A Safe Space

Communications studies professor Vera Holder and students from the Communication Studies Club sort out donated clothing. The memorial drive on campus honored the late Kesha Curtis-Hondo, a popular communications studies professor. The clothes will go to Laura’s House, a women’s shelter in Lake Forest. / C. Harold Pierce / el Don

By: Nashe Harley

Colleagues and students honor a beloved professor by helping battered women

The Santa Ana College Communication Studies Club held a clothing drive in mid-November to benefit victims of domestic violence. Donation drop boxes were placed in the Johnson Center, the Fine Arts Building and other locations around campus.

Last spring, students in the communication studies club decided to honor the memory of professor Kesha Curtis-Hondo, who was murdered by her husband in a murder-suicide in 2011. Curtis-Hondo left behind two young daughters.

“One thing led to another and when they heard the story of what happened to her they decided that they wanted to do something to honor her,” said professor Vera Holder, faculty advisor for the Communications Studies Club.

The club’s members plan on holding a clothing drive every year in order to bring awareness to the issue of domestic violence.

Donations will be sent to Laura’s House, a domestic violence shelter in Lake Forest, Calif.

In an el Don profile, Curtis-Hondo described herself as shy growing up. After earning her master’s in communication studies from Cal State Long Beach, Hondo decided to become a teacher.

“When I teach communication, I reinforce to myself who I am and how valuable my relationships with others are in my own life,” Curtis-Hondo wrote in her staff biography on the SAC website. Fellow professor Lance Lockwood describes her as an amazing woman.

“Kesha and I were very, very close … People used to call us salt and pepper,” Lockwood said.

Kesha described her husband as being very protective, but not abusive. There were no signs of physical abuse in the relationship.

Several days before she was murdered, Kesha discussed with Lockwood her decision to leave her husband.

“We talked about the fear of it … she didn’t think that he would physically harm her,” Lockwood said.

Kesha, like millions of others, was a victim of domestic violence. Situations like hers happen every day, but many victims are afraid to seek help.

Domestic violence is a crime with victims crossing cultural, racial and economic boundaries.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department defines domestic violence as any abuse against an adult or minor in which the victim has or has previously had an intimate relationship with their attacker.

Some of the signs of abuse include changes in mood or behavior and unexplained bruises or injuries.

The sheriff’s department recommends victims leave their attacker as soon as possible.

About 40 percent of women have or will experience domestic violence at least once in their lifetime, according to the California Women’s Health Survey. Women 18- to 24- years old are 11 percent more likely to become victims than women in other age groups.

Police officials say that more awareness of the issue and a greater number of female officers, has led to an increased number of men and women reporting attackers.