“If we don’t focus on changing society, we will never be free of violence.”

Catalina Torres, domestic violence survivor, longtime STAND! Volunteer and outspoken advocate, was murdered on Saturday, September 6, 2008. In a sadly ironic turn of events, she was fatally shot by her cousin’s estranged ex-husband during a deadly domestic violence dispute that left Martinez police officer and the attacker dead as well.

Catalina had been protecting the gunman’s three children and a tenant when she was killed.

Catalina, a former STAND! client, and was a powerful example of a woman who traveled the long road from victim to survivor to become an advocate.

“She was a remarkable woman full of compassion and sensitivity with a undeniable strength and resolve that was inspirational," said Gloria Sandoval, STAND!’s Executive Director. “Anyone lucky enough to have seen her in action knows that she was a dynamic and empowering person. She will be missed.”

Catalina came to STAND! fearing for her live and the lives of her children after a brutal, public beating by her partner. Catalina called STAND!’s Margaret Lesher Transitional Housing Program “a sanctuary. My time in transitional housing is a clear dividing line in my life.”

When Catalina graduated from STAND!’s Margaret Lesher Center Transitional Housing 1999, she knew that she wanted to give back to the agency because of “what she had received through STAND!.

“When I left transitional housing, I knew that I was worthy to live a life free of violence, and it just seemed like the next logical step that all women are worthy of a society without violence,” Catalina said.

As a STAND! volunteer, Catalina bravely and passionately shared her family’s story of triumph over domestic violence at any and every opportunity, from one-on-one situations to ballrooms full of people to County Supervisors meetings.

Many thanks to all of you who helped Catalina overcome her own domestic violence situation and rebuild her life and the lives of her children.