Torres' tragic story is one example of the domestic abuse cases that plague North Hudson and many other areas. In fact, the local non-profit health organization the North Hudson Community Action Corporation says they have been receiving an influx of calls about abuse.
"Just from our own area, we probably get anywhere from five to 15 calls a week, and we'll get walk-ins," said Dr. Frank Santos, psychiatrist and director of mental health and addiction services for NHCAC, last week. "Right now we have a domestic violence specialist, Tina Morales, and she at this point has been seeing domestic violence cases on an individual and weekly basis."
Last week, the NHCAC, which provides health care for local low-income residents, hosted a golf outing fundraiser for their Domestic Violence Program in hopes that tragedies like Torres can be avoided.
The event, at White Beeches Country Club in Bergen County, raised over $30,000.
"Domestic violence, unfortunately, is a growing area of concern here and throughout the nation," said Chris Irizarry, president and CEO of NHCAC. "The money we raised this week will help our agency to promote awareness of domestic violence and to take meaningful steps to help prevent this insidious problem."
What they're trying to do
At the moment, the NHCAC has been providing individualized therapy and occasional support groups to accommodate the current influx of women in domestic abuse situations.
Unfortunately, the number of cases keeps growing, which has had the health center a bit short-handed.
With last Monday's fundraiser, the NHCAC finally has the resources to hire an additional specialist, who will help run the support groups.
"We would like to now expand the program and provide a domestic violence support group," said Santos.
In addition to expanded support and resources for victims, the NHCAC also wants to provide a community education component to teach residents and students how to prevent domestic abuse, and give them places to go for help if the situation escalates.
"We get different cases on a weekly basis," said Santos. "The problem definitely is present and needs to be addressed more significantly."
Although domestic abuse has a broad spectrum, in many cases, particularly North Hudson, it seems involve young women from early to late 20s.
However, other cases have also show frequent occurrences for girls in their late teens.
Why women stay
There are too many cases where women remain in the abusive relationship, and outside sources like the NHCAC attempt to intervene.
"When women visit the NHCAC and claim, or doctors suspect that they have an issue with domestic violence, they are sent to me and I try to do my intervention," said Morales.
According to www.endabuse.org , nearly one-third of American women (31 percent) have reported being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend - and that's only reported cases.
So why do they stay?
"[With] years of abuse, they're afraid to come out because of fear of what can happen," said Santos. "Many of them feel locked in without options. Sometimes they are made aware of places like ours and they know they can walk in here and not feel that we're going to turn them in."
According to Santos, a lot of the female victims have come from a background where they grew up in an abusive environment, and possibly witnessed their own mothers beaten.
"We call them situational and emotional factors," said Morales.
Situational factors refer to things such as fear of losing custody of the kids or fear of family profiling, what the family would say if the victim left.
Emotional factors are related to self-esteem and confidence, when the victim stays because they feel helpless and worthless.
But what finally breaks their silence?
"Sometimes they fear that the next move could [cost] their life, or they have children and they want to protect their children," said Santos.
"I tell them it's okay to understand that you are victim of domestic violence, but it's not okay to accept the behavior," said Morales.
Victims of domestic violence are often compared to prisoners of war, where they suffer from post-traumatic stress.
At the NHCAC, once the victim is open to being helped by the program, Morales takes initial steps to refer them to crisis centers or shelters if need be, and works with the victim in therapy.
"When I believe the woman has been very open, basically we find out about safety issues," said Morales. "If they feel safe about going back home and I tell them what choices they have. Sometimes their main concern is, 'I have no place to stay.' "
On April 13, Torres was stabbed to death in front of her daughters, allegedly by her live-in boyfriend Juan Tejada, who was charged with her murder and is currently being held at the Hudson County Correctional Facility in Kearny.
Local newspapers reported that family members said Torres and Tejada had a very volatile and violent relationship.
There is help
Victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Hudson County can seek help at various places including the WomenRising-Battered Women's Program Emergency Shelter at (201) 333-5700 (24-hour hotline); the North Hudson Community Action Foundation Community Health Center, 5301 Broadway, West New York, at (201) 866-9320, or Hispanic Women's Resource Center Catholic Charities, 2201 Bergenline Ave., Union City, at (201) 325-4806.
Victims can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).