Julia Perilla had five children and was working to get her Ph.D when she was approached by a Catholic nun for help. Sister Barbara Harrington, who was running the Mercy Mobile Health Clinic, realized that many of the bruises that the Latina women had were not a product of accidents. They were the result of violence in their own homes. Sister Harrington asked Julia to start a spanish speaking group for Latina survivors of domestic violence.
Dr. Perilla, one of the few native Spanish speaker in the PhD psychology program, dedicated herself to better understand what was driving the violence as well as helping them facilitating support groups.
26 years later, Dr. Perilla is now retiring from Georgia State University but still plans to stay active with Caminar Latino, the organization she founded based on the needs and requests from the women she served through support groups.
Julia’s work brought to the forefront key issues now recognized by the White House and
the federal administration as essential to the betterment of our community: Cultural Competency and Family Inclusion.
Her model of having women at the center of all decisions the organization made to address domestic and intimate violence, inspired the creation of YoSoyM and many other programs. Nationally recognized, in 2005 Perilla was honored by the Georgia Psychological Association as their Woman of the Year. More recently, she was invited by Vice President Biden to a dinner commemorating the Violence Against Women Act.
Dr. Perilla conducted research, wrote and taught at the Department of Psycology at Georgia State University. She also headed up the National Latino Research Center on Family and Social Change
When Julia is asked about how she came across so many defining insights, she smiles and simply says: “I am not an expert. I just listen”
On November 11, Caminar Latino, the organization she co-founded in 1990 and still the only one in the state offering comprehensive domestic violence programs to Latino families as a whole, will be celebrating 26 of the journey agains domestic violence.
Thank you Dr. Julia Perilla for your time, for your talents, for your courage and for listening.