Sheriff tells of own abuse in domestic violence lecture

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Students at Palo Alto gather Tuesday to hear Bexar County Sheriff Susan L. Pamerleau on Domestic Violence Awareness Month in performing arts.   Photo by Sasha D. Robinson

Students at Palo Alto gather Tuesday to hear Bexar County Sheriff Susan L. Pamerleau on Domestic Violence Awareness Month in performing arts. Photo by Sasha D. Robinson

By Sasha D Robinson

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

Achieving the rank of major general in the U.S. Air Force, becoming a vice president of USAA and being elected Bexar County sheriff could not have prepared Susan L. Pamerleau to handle domestic violence, she said Tuesday at Palo Alto College.

Now commanding the nation’s 11th largest sheriff’s department, Pamerleau told an audience of about 30 about her experience as a victim of domestic violence.

Her lectured kicked off Domestic Violence Awareness Month at Palo Alto.

“There are things that prepared me to be your sheriff that don’t have to do with my résumé,” she said.

“I think there are other things that prepared me just as much, and those are my personal experiences that made me a better sheriff because I believe that shaped my understanding in our community,” Pamerleau said.

Pamerleau said her husband mentally, emotionally and physically abused her.

When she and her husband went to a marriage counselor in 1978, she said the counselor asked her, “Why the hell are you still with this guy?”

With help from the counselor, Pamerleau gained courage to leave her husband.

One night when Pamerleau called her husband, he attempted ploys to get her back.

Pamerleau’s husband told her he was going to kill himself and asked if she wanted to hear it.

When Pamerleau hung up the phone, her husband killed himself.

“Had I not asked for help on how to tell, I would be dead today,” Pamerleau said.

Pamerleau encourages any who are victims or know someone who is a victim to speak out against domestic violence.

Rhonda O’Cana, personal counselor for Palo Alto College, was happy for the turnout and hopes the college will observe Domestic Violence Awareness Month as an annual event and also plan an event for the spring.

Pre-pharmacy freshman Katlyn Hamaker, president of Club Stand, said her son’s father beat and raped her.

A student group, Club Stand, has formed this semester at Palo Alto to spread awareness of domestic violence and child abuse.

Pamerleau was elected sheriff Nov 6, 2012, becoming the first woman to be elected to the post. The Republican candidate is up for re-election Nov. 8 facing Democrat Javier Salazar, Libertarian Party candidate Larry Ricketts and Green Party candidate James Dorsey.

Other events at Palo Alto for Domestic Violence Awareness Month include Lunch and Learn sessions 12:30-1:45 p.m. Oct. 18 and 27.

On Oct. 18, criminal justice Instructor Lynn Parker will discuss “real life, real people and real cases” in the performing arts center.

On Oct. 27, Executive Director Patricia Castillo will discuss the P.E.A.C.E initiative in the Legacy Room of Ozuna Library.

Students who want to attend must sign up in Room 101 of the student center.

For more information, call the student life office at Palo Alto at 210-486-3125.

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