Carie Charlesworth, a second grade teacher at Holy Trinity School for 14 years, was terminated from her job after a domestic violence incident with her ex-husband prompted him to show up at the school. Consequently, the school was put on lock down to protect the children and staff from a potentially dangerous situation. Her four children, who were students at the school, were also asked to leave and not come back. The school’s officials reported that this decision was made from fear that the safety of the children and school faculty would be compromised from the retaliation of Ms. Charlesworth’s ex-husband. Adding insult to injury, Ms. Charlesworth and the children were forbidden to have any further associations with schools within the Diocese, according to her termination letter from Holy Trinity School Director, Tom Beecher and Human Resources Director, Bobby Espinoza. Ms. Charlesworth and her children were cruelly exiled from an institution that was deeply rooted into their faith and belief system, a foundation that would protect them from the very thing that caused their banishment. Beecher and Espinoza made it clear that Ms. Charlesworth and her children were not welcome, but noted they would “continue to pray” for her and her family.
Ms. Charlesworth’s ex-husband is currently in jail for several felony charges, but, she says she felt like a criminal too. “And that’s what it felt like, the kids and I were being punished for something we didn’t even do,” she told NBC 7 San Diego. Unfortunately, Ms. Charlesworth is not alone. A 2011 study by Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center shows nearly 40 percent of survivors in California reported being fired or feared termination because of domestic violence. According to domesticviolencestatistics.org, domestic violence victims lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the US alone—the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs.
Holy Trinity School’s decision to turn their backs on a family in dire need of protection and support only fuels the perception that victims of domestic violence are not important and perhaps deserved the abuse. Ms. Charlesworth says it all in her statement, “I have not been back to a Catholic church since this happened”, and she admits her life has been turned upside down because “everything I thought I had, I don’t.” Ms. Charlesworth has since been offered a teaching position at a private school in Los Angeles but when her ex-husband is released from prison in the near future, who is going to shield her and her children from his violent behavior? Ms. Charlesworth’s experience sadly reinforces the reality that there are still minimal resources and laws in place to protect women from domestic violence.
For more information on resources for the protection of women against violence, please visit http://womenshealth.gov/violence-against-women/get-help-for-violence/resources-by-state-violence-against-women.cfm