Blog Archives - Human Options

Survivor Stories: Jamie’s Story

Prior to receiving counseling services with Human Options at the South Orange County Family Resource Center, Jamie was distraught and extremely anxious about what happened to her daughter Mila. Carrying guilt and blame for not being able to protect her daughter from seeing her father hit her mother, Jamie’s mental health began to deteriorate very quickly. Because of the incident that occurred, Jamie was in dire need of counseling services to process the situation in a safe and compassionate environment.  As Jamie continued to work through her thoughts and feelings regarding the situation that happened to her daughter and the impact it has had on her and her family, Jamie…

Why The New Gun Control Bill is Important to Victims of Domestic Violence

Why The New Gun Control Bill is Important to Victims of Domestic Violence By Maricela Rios-Faust, CEO of Human Options and Domestic Violence Expert Earlier this year, the Orange County Domestic Violence Death Review Team (DVDRT) published the Domestic Fatality Review, an analysis of more than a decade of domestic violence fatalities in Orange County, Calif. In the 11-year study, guns were found to be the leading cause of death and used in 72% of fatalities. Orange County’s worst mass shooting was tied to domestic violence when Scott Dekraai killed eight people at a Seal Beach salon following a custody dispute with his ex-wife in 2011. Studies have shown that…

Depp vs. Heard – There is no real winner

The severed fingertip, the feces on the bed, the profanity-laced arguments—these were some of the key moments of explosive testimony that the 3.5 million viewers on various social media platforms heard worldwide during the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial. The celebrity case quickly attracted millions and grew to one of the highest trending topics on the internet. Although the defamation case was centered around allegations of domestic violence by both parties, very little about the complex dynamics surrounding domestic violence was introduced for the jury and the public to consider. “It could begin with a slap, it could begin with a shove, it could begin with throwing a TV…

Survivor Stories: Mike’s Story

It took Mike more than two years after the fact to realize what he thought was love, was in fact abuse. When Mike met Kyle, he thought he had found his soulmate and would live out his dream of being in a loving relationship. Very quickly, Mike became extremely isolated from his friends and began limiting his social and extracurricular activities to be with Kyle.  Already not feeling safe and unsure of where to go,  Mike tried reaching out to a few friends, but every time he tried, he was not believed or his friends told him that he was a man too and to just “hit him back.” Mike…

Survivor Stories: Charlotte’s Story

After enduring more than six years of physical, verbal, financial and emotional domestic violence, Charlotte took the first step in her healing journey by entering Human Option’s Emergency Shelter with her two children, Sara and Evan, who were only one and three years old. The last physical aggression by her partner happened in front of her children and that gave her the strength to call law enforcement. Sara, at only 3 years old, told the officer with tears in her eyes that “daddy was being very mean to mommy, broke her phone, yelled too loud and needed to go away”. High levels of stress, anxiety and worry led Charlotte to…

Survivor Stories: John’s Story

John, age 10, arrived at our Emergency Shelter with his mother and younger sibling in November, 2021. After fleeing from an extremely dangerous and violent situation, this family received motel vouchers for two weeks through Extended Stay America and entered our Human Options Emergency Shelter. Upon arrival, John was extremely quiet, disengaged, and scared for the safety of his family. He would say he wasn’t interested in joining Children’s Program as he wasn’t interested in anything and didn’t want to leave his family alone as it was his job to protect them. Additionally, his interest in life was minimal and frequently discussed suicide with his mother. After Children’s Program was…

Meet Our Chief Operations Officer!

We are so excited to announce our new Chief Operations Officer, Sara Behmerwohld, Esq.! Sara has led the Legal Advocacy Services and Program at Human Options for the last 8 years and most recently has served in the role of interim Chief Program Officer. Sara’s passion for addressing domestic violence, her demonstrated strength in enhancing operational efficiencies and leading high impact programs will be of tremendous value in her new role! Sara is a member of the HOME Cohort, our statewide work on the intersection of domestic violence and homelessness and leads Human Options Criminal Justice Response partnership with the Santa Ana Police Department. Additionally, Sara is the Chair of…

Press Release: Orange County Domestic Violence Death Review Team Releases Decade-Long Study Highlighting Fatality Trends & Recommendations for Prevention & Intervention 

IRVINE, Calif., February 16, 2022 — The Orange County Domestic Violence Death Review Team (DVDRT), a multidisciplinary task force, released its first ever study that analyzed a decade of trends in domestic violence fatalities. The team reviewed county coroner case files from 2006 through 2017 and analyzed domestic violence-related homicide and homicide/suicide cases to develop recommendations for community prevention and intervention initiatives in reducing and eradicating domestic violence. The DVDRT is co-chaired by Maricela Rio-Faust, Chief Executive Officer of nonprofit Human Options, and Professor Jane Stoever, who directs the University of California, Irvine School of Law’s Domestic Violence Clinic and the UCI Initiative to End Family Violence and includes multiple…

Program Highlight: LAV Project

The LAV Grant Program is intended to increase the availability of civil and criminal legal assistance needed to effectively aid adult and youth (ages 11 and older) victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking by providing funds for comprehensive direct legal services to victims in legal matters relating to or arising out of that abuse or violence. From its inception, this project involved regular, two-way dialogue from Human Options and Community Legal Aid SoCal about the systemic barriers we were seeing with our clients–and how we could address them–together. When this project began in 2018, no one could have foreseen how much more challenging navigating the legal…

Survivor Stories: Kim’Story

Dear Human Options, My name is Kim and I had great support from Human Option in 2006 due to domestic violence. I was really in need during that time. I remember I didn’t know how to use phone in the public phone booth, I could not drive, I did not know how to use a taxi, I was not comfortable in English…and most important I did not know my rights. Until I found Human Options.   With help from a friend, I was able to find an opening in Human Options even though was living in a different county. I still vividly remember the first day that I was escorted…