we first met Teresa Macias' mother, Sara Rubio Hernandez, Sarah
was still in the hospital recovering from the gunshot wounds she
herself had received when her daughter was murdered. Seven months
before, Sara had left her home in the remote mountainside ranch
in Mexico to come to the United States to try and help her daughter
escape the domestic violence in which Teresa was trapped. On April
15, 1996, when Sara and Teresa went to a house cleaning job at an
upscale Sonoma home, Teresa's husband, Avelino, was laying in wait.
Avelino shot and killed Teresa, and then fired two shots into his
There was so much pain
in the hospital room it seemed like even the air could cry. Still,
Sara wanted to talk. In fragments between silence and tears, she
told us (Marie De Santis and Tanya Brannan) about the despair of
Teresa's last weeks. After more than a year of fruitless struggle
trying to get help from the Sheriff, Sara said, a sense of doom
had come over her daughter.
Sara told us Teresa's
words to her. "If I die," Teresa had told her mother, "I don't want
other women to suffer what I have suffered. I want them to be listened
to." Sara told us she didn't want her daughter's words or her struggle
to be in vain. Sara asked us to investigate, and tell Teresa's story.
As the weeks and months
went by, no matter how painful the events we uncovered in our investigation,
Sara wanted us to lay them before the public in hopes of fulfilling
her daughters wish, and in hopes of changing the way police respond
to violence against women.
When we tried to answer
Sara's questions as to how this could ever happen, we explained
that police frequently ignore women's pleas for help with domestic
violence. And we explained that women here didn't have a legal right
to police protection, and that police had no legal obligation act.
When we told Sara that trying to change things through a civil rights
lawsuit would be a long, agonizing process, and would probably fail,
Sara wanted to go ahead anyway.
Four very difficult years
later for Sara, her daughter's case has now set a powerful new precedent
in the United States for women's constitutional rights to police
protection. The decision won't affect the rights of women in Mexico.
Sara Rubio Hernandez knew that too.
Please help us express
our deep gratitude to Sara Rubio Hernandez for her selfless, unequaled
gift to American women. You can write to Sara care of Women's Justice
Center, 250 Sebastopol Rd, Santa Rosa, CA 95407.