Video: Young Latino turns pain from domestic violence childhood into empowering other victims of abuse

Video: Young Latino turns pain from domestic violence childhood into empowering other victims of abuse

LatinaLista — Javier Espinoza, a first-generation Mexican American and one of five children, grew up witnessing what too many children see every day — daddy beating mommy. The domestic violence that drove Javier's mom to make the courageous decision to take her children away from an abusive father and start a new life left Javier with a strong admiration for his mom.

It was an admiration that he carried with him to college at the University of Redlands in California where he is a double major in Women/Gender studies and Sociology and the founder of an unique program, In a Box, that strives to show victims of domestic violence that they are not alone.

Espinoza's program fills the basic needs of women and children who are living in domestic violence shelters and unable to freely go to the store to buy things since they are in hiding from their abusers. In a Box provides such things as underwear, feminine products, non-perishable food, clothes, toiletries, educational toys, baby supplies, seasonal gifts and school supplies. All are packed into big decorated boxes and sent to the shelters.

Espinoza's team also creates seasonal boxes — Back to School, Easter, Mother's Day, Christmas — filled with extra treats that Espinoza knows first-hand families don't receive in shelters. Yet, the biggest treat for these families may be the personal letter Espinoza includes in each box.

"I know how dark some days can seem, but I want the children to know they can come out of domestic violence college-bound with a future full of opportunity," Espinoza says.

However, to share his message of hope, Espinoza finds himself in front of audiences reliving his painful past and explaining how to turn pain into power.

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