MERARI LOPEZ, VICTIM ADVOCATE
AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SURVIVOR
TAYLORSVILLE CITY POLICE DEPT, UT
My name is Merari Lopez, and I am a mother of seven kids. I am a victim advocate working in the police department of Taylorsville, Utah. I obtained my bachelor’s degree in the science of criminal justice. My life has been marked by domestic violence since the first year of my marriage in 1994. Over the years, I experienced emotional abuse, physical violence, and control from my partner, leaving me scared, alone, and trapped in a toxic situation. I endured this abusive relationship for 11 years and had five children during that time. The last two pregnancies were non-consensual, and I didn’t know my rights or that victim advocates could assist me.
WHAT EMOTIONS DID YOU EXPERIENCE DURING THIS TIME?
Throughout this abusive relationship, I felt scared, isolated, hopeless, and trapped with no means of communication or help. He would constantly slap me, pull my hair, isolate me from my friends and family, and control my phone calls; his abusive behavior would continue to escalate over the years. The language barrier further complicated the situation, as I couldn’t easily seek assistance from others. When I did decide to reach out to his family for help, I was met with the response of “not being woman enough for him”, as an excuse for his toxic behavior. I experienced depression, anxiety, and a deep sense of helplessness with the constant worry and threat of being arrested due to my undocumented status. The fear of losing my children further prevented me from seeking help earlier.
DID YOU AT ANY POINT WORK WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT OR A VICTIM AGENCY TO GET HELP?
After escaping the abusive relationship and moving to Utah with my kids, a victim advocate from YWCA contacted me. This advocate educated me about the cycle of domestic violence, my rights, and available resources. Their support and guidance gave me hope that my children and I could find safety and a better life. However, at that time, the 911CPB program was not available to aid me in communicating with loved ones or authorities during critical moments of crisis.
HOW WOULD A 911CPB PHONE HAVE HELPED YOUR SITUATION?
Having access to a 911CPB phone during an abusive incident with my intoxicated partner would have made all the difference at that moment. I was breastfeeding my four-month-old baby when my husband returned late at night intoxicated yelling profanities at my children and me at the top of his lungs. This was the night he almost killed my oldest son as my other children cried in desperation and helplessness asking him to stop hitting us. At that moment he was completely out of control, but I had no means of calling 911 or a loved one for help because I didn’t have access to a phone. A 911CPB phone at this moment would have allowed me to discreetly call 911 or reach out to my family for help without my abusive husband’s knowledge. The ability to communicate safely and secretly could have prevented further harm. It would have been a lifeline when I felt alone and helpless, providing a way to connect with law enforcement and support services.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO SPREAD THE WORD OUT ABOUT THE 911CPB PROGRAM?
As a victim advocate, I fully support and want to spread the word about the 911CPB program. I have witnessed firsthand how survivors of domestic violence face immense challenges in seeking help and staying safe, especially when their abusers monitor their communications. The 911CPB program offers a crucial solution by providing survivors with donated old phones, where they can access emergency services without their abuser’s knowledge. This program can empower victims to break free from their abusers and reach out for help when they need it most. I want to help others and ensure that victims of domestic violence have access to the resources and tools they need to escape abuse and rebuild their lives.
*phones are activated during 911CPB operating business hours. All phones can contact 911 in an emergency until the phones are activated.