Joanna Otero
Women Against Abuse, Inc., Philadelphia's premier domestic violence agency, celebrated its 16th annual Dish It Up culinary event on Thursday, June 6. The city's finest female chefs and community leaders gathered for a night of charity, featuring an array of sweet and savory delicacies from Philadelphia's best restaurants. (Photo: Provided)

Domestic violence is an issue that knows no boundaries, impacting individuals across all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. Joanna Otero, the Executive Director and President of Women Against Abuse, recently shared insights into the organization’s strides in addressing this critical issue within the Philadelphia community.

Nationally acclaimed for its dedication, Women Against Abuse has become a beacon of hope for those enduring silent battles against various forms of violence. Joanna underscored the vital role of providing both shelter and legal aid to those desperate to break free from violent environments, especially to those who are most at risk. “We’re committed to delivering all-encompassing support to survivors, ranging from secure housing to legal guidance on custody disputes and protective orders,” she explained.

Joanna proudly pointed to the recent upgrades made to their facilities: “Over the last couple of years, we’ve been revitalizing and enhancing our shelters.” She was particularly pleased with the addition of private bathrooms in each room, a dignified amenity cherished by families forced to forsake their homes for safety.

Addressing the needs of young residents, Joanna acknowledged the frustration many teens feel in the shelters—caught between understanding their predicaments and the desire to stay in their homes. To counter this, the organization has established a Teen Center. “It’s designed to be part library, stocked with an array of books for study, and part gaming zone, catering to the youths’ penchant for video games and digital pursuits. Our aim is to cultivate a secure and inviting space where they can find comfort and support.”


In the fight against domestic violence, the Executive Director and President of Women Against Abuse underscores the critical role of community education on recognizing abuse and fostering healthy relationships. “Halting the cycle of domestic violence hinges on prevention. It’s a collective effort to forge a secure and respectful environment for all,” she stated.

Joanna pointed out the pivotal role of educational initiatives in curbing domestic violence, particularly among young people. “A staggering one in three individuals has faced domestic violence, and that includes men, with one in four being victims. The essence of domestic violence lies in the control and dominance exerted by one partner over the other. This is precisely why we concentrate on educational efforts.” She also brought attention to the high rates of violence within the LGBTQ community.

Women Against Abuse actively engages in preventative measures through educational programs targeted at middle school students: “Our approach begins with the fundamentals—discussing relationships. We recognize that relationships often start as early as fifth grade, and parents may be unaware of their children’s romantic involvements.”

Highlighting the importance of early education on healthy relationships and the signs of problematic dating behaviors, Joanna notes: “We initiate conversations about healthy relationships early on, as evidence shows that many youths encounter violence in their relationships during these formative years.”

For Joanna, it’s imperative to engage with the youth about the hallmarks of a healthy relationship and to model effective communication. “By doing so, they can begin to discern for themselves what a healthy relationship looks like.”


On June 6th, the annual fundraising event was held, where the competition among female chefs has stood out in a field dominated by men. “This event is our chance to shine a light on female chefs, to honor their achievements. Many have been touched by domestic violence, either personally or through someone they know… This year, we welcomed 14 restaurants and over 300 guests,” shared Joanna.

The Dish It Up 2024 event was a resounding success, raising close to $250,000 for essential services. The culinary stars of the night were Rebecca Foxman of Fox & Son Fancy Corn Dog, who took home the Purple Dish award for her inventive savory buttermilk funnel cake with pickled shrimp salad, and Kate Hughes from High Street Philadelphia, who charmed the judges with her blueberry dill cheesecake, earning the Purple Dessert award.

Joanna also took a moment to applaud the contributions of remarkable Latina chefs, such as Cristina Martínez from South Philly Barbacoa and Mariangeli Alicea Saez from Cantina la Martina, whose talents enriched the event.

Looking ahead, Joanna outlined the organization’s five-year strategic plan, which includes enhancing services for diverse communities, with a focus on those who speak languages other than English. “Our goal is to ensure that Women Against Abuse continues to provide high-quality services to our clients,” she affirmed.

Joanna called on the community to support the cause through donations, volunteering and education about domestic violence. “Every action, no matter how small, is significant in this battle. United, we can effect change and forge a safer future for all,” she urged.

Conversing with Joanna Otero highlights the critical need to confront domestic violence head-on and the power of solidarity in supporting those who endure in silence. With its commitment to education, comprehensive care and raising awareness, Women Against Abuse stands as a pillar in the relentless fight against domestic violence.

Artículo anteriorUn esfuerzo para cerrar la brecha en beneficio de emprendedores latinos de Filadelfia
Artículo siguienteDía del padre: ¿a quién debemos celebrar?
Adrian R. Morales González
Es periodista, editor, poeta, traductor y corrector de estilo, licenciado en Lengua Inglesa por la Universidad de La Habana y magíster en Periodismo y Comunicación Social por esa casa de altos estudios. En su natal Cuba se desempeñó como reportero de la Agencia Informativa Latinoamericana Prensa Latina y de la revista Somos Jóvenes. En el 2002 se mudó a Santo Domingo, República Dominicana, país del que obtuvo la nacionalidad y donde ha laborado como editor de las revistas Mercado, Refugios y Deleite y de otros medios impresos y digitales. En la actualidad es editor de contenido de la revista Bohío, editor de la sección de turismo del periódico Dominican Today, y corrector editorial del Departamento de Publicaciones del Instituto Superior de Formación Docente Salomé Ureña (ISFODOSU). En el año 2000 obtuvo el Premio ESTI a la Prensa por su artículo “El traductor: ¿ente anónimo o creador?”, que otorga la Unión de Periodistas de Cuba (UPEC) y el Equipo de Servicios de Traductores e Intérpretes (ESTI). En 1998, Prensa Latina lo reconoció por ser el primer periodista de prensa escrita en divulgar el descubrimiento en Cuba de la familia negra del pintor español Pablo Picasso. Por sus más de 20 años en el periodismo turístico, la Organización Mundial de Periodismo Turístico (OMPT) le otorgó en 2018, en Panamá, el Premio Internacional Pasaporte Abierto “A la Trayectoria”. En 2023 obtuvo el premio Pasaporte Abierto en la categoría “Investigación periodística”. Adrian Rafael Morales González, también fue corresponsal de Alhucema: Revista de Literatura y Teatro, que se edita en Granada, España, en la que ha publicado teatro, poesía, traducciones y artículos. Tiene en proceso de publicación el cuaderno de poesía Vals de los ogros y se encuentra inmerso en la creación de su primera novela.


Por favor ingrese su comentario!
Por favor ingrese su nombre aquí