It was a hot June day in Southern Arizona. But the promise of a new life, a happier life for her and her 7-year old daughter, made her smile.

Her new boyfriend was beside her. His daughter was in the back seat. This was how she had hoped it would be with her last relationship, but it wasn’t. That boyfriend was possessive, controlling, physically and verbally abusive, and outwardly jealous of everyone she knew. She didn’t see the signs…all of them. Then, he killed her.

Through no fault of her own, Marilynn Patricia (Matty) Pacheco, died at hands of her abuser on Interstate 19.

She thought he wouldn’t use his gun. But he did.

I didn’t know her, but I knew her…well. Thousands of Mattys are killed every year in domestic violence disputes. They never discovered that somewhere out there are safe houses (shelters) like the house that sits quietly off the road between Green Valley and Sahuarita, surrounded by lush, old mesquite trees and a state-of-the-art security system. This is the house that I founded, that I had wished for and that I had seen in my dreams. And I knew it was where I would have wanted to go when I was escaping from my abuser. It was where new beginnings would start and old endings were finally over. I said to myself that day, this is Genesis House! That was 14 years ago.

It generally takes a victim seven times before they finally walk away from the abuser and mean it. It isn’t easy. Matty found that out. Her abuser would make every argument her fault. He would threaten her about getting out of their sick relationship, time after time. But his behavior was typical. My files are full of scenarios just like Matty’s. The difference? Every file I have has the name of a victim who finally escaped and found herself safe to become her new safe self to become new again.

Did I know Matty? Yes, I knew her well. If you know someone who needs a safe haven, an advocate, a bed or just a shoulder, please ask them to call me. My name is Patti O’Berry. I escaped, you can, too!

Patti O’Berry is founder of Genesis House. Reach her at 520-647-9906.

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