Social Worker and Single Mother of Three Adolescents

By Rosa Zavala, Child Abuse Treatment Program Manager

October 21, 2020


(Rosa Zavala with her 3 sons.)

Going through a situation of sexual abuse can be extremely difficult. There are even less resources and information available to non-English speakers in our community. This is why we were inspired to write a section of blogs in Spanish, to inform Spanish-speaking survivors, parents and relatives on how to support their loved ones in these moments of anguish and uncertainty. 

Also, through these blogs you will have the opportunity to learn a little more about the history and trajectory of some of the people who work here at the center. This week you will learn a little more about Rosa, the manager of the Child Abuse Treatment program:

Welcome to the new era of digital communication. My name is Rosa Zavala and I am a proud single mother of three young men. I never imagined that I would go through the crisis of a pandemic, nor did I imagine that I would have to raise my three children alone. When I went through the situation of intrafamily violence (also known as domestic violence), I had to really analyze the type of parenting I wanted for my children. I thought that if I wanted my children to go to college, there would be no better way than to set an example for them. At first I was lonely and ashamed to ask for help. Biases aside, I braced myself and told a social worker about my situation. With the push from her and one of her classmates, I made the decision to go back to school. After the third semester at MPC (Monterey Peninsula College), I found myself needing to provide my children with a stable home. With this in mind I transferred to California State University Monterey Bay, thus killing two birds with one stone; having a place to live in college and pursuing a career in social work.

I immigrated to the United States from Mexico when I grew up and therefore my English was not 100%. However, that did not stop me. It was clear to me that I wanted a job from Monday to Friday, from eight in the morning to five in the afternoon, so that I could take my children to and from school. This time was very difficult for me. I got up early to take care of the children, take them to school and go to class. In the afternoon I would stop by for them at the after school program, and from there to the house to eat, clean, help them with homework, bathe them and put them to sleep. After all this, I could do my homework and go to rest to start my routine the next day. While I was in college, I did my social service with the Child Protective Services department and loved it. There, I was able to see how the family welfare system works, from taking an emergency call to going to family court hearings.

I graduated from college and immediately started looking for work. One of my passions has always been working with children who have suffered some type of child abuse and the other is working with people who are experiencing domestic violence. I was blessed to work for Monterey County as a social worker for almost a year. From there I was fortunate to come to this agency (Monterey County Rape Crisis Center), where I have worked for almost thirteen years. First as an educator for the child abuse prevention program, where I gave presentations to first, third and sixth grade children in elementary schools. I taught them what a good touch and an inappropriate touch was. I told them that their body is theirs and that no one can touch them in a way that they don't like. I would talk to them about what to do if someone mistreats them and I was always teaching them that they are not to blame if someone hurts them.

I also gave presentations to parents, sharing the same information about child abuse. During my time here at the crisis center I was part of the start in the Salinas office, which we started with only three employees. Then with the prevention programs we grew to five. Now with the CHAT (child abuse treatment) program which provides free counseling to children who have experienced childhood trauma or abuse, there are almost fifteen staff members. In this position that I now have as coordinator of the CHAT program, I have had the joy of continuing to work with children and their families. 

Here at the crisis center we also offer free counseling to parents and loved ones of sexual abuse survivors. Our goal is to remind you that you are not alone; we are here to support you. That is why we have this section of blogs to inform you on how to support your loved ones in these difficult times. Here, we will talk to you about the emotional and criminal process and we will give you information about the different programs available in our community, among other topics. I invite you to stay tuned for our next post!