By Lucia Viti
Nicole Sinkule lost her life to domestic violence. On Oct. 16, 2005, the beautiful, 25-year-old artist was bludgeoned to death while she slept in her own bed with a claw hammer. When police arrived, the hammer’s claw was still protruding from her neck.
Police arrested her boyfriend, Eric Nathaniel Marum, 25, within the hour. Marum, a methamphetamine user, was charged with first-degree murder. He pleaded not guilty. Two years later, in exchange for a guilty plea, Marum received a reduced sentence — 16 years to life in prison.
The couple’s relationship ran rabid with the red flags of domestic violence. The year prior, coworkers rescued Sinkule as Marum tried to drag her from the restaurant where she worked as a waitress. Marum also vandalized Sinkule’s apartment while high on meth. Pleading guilty to vandalism and felony possession of meth, he received a three-year, probationary sentence. Sinkule was granted an order of protection.
Several months later, Sinkule and Marum’s lawyer requested to reverse the order, arguing that Marum, no longer using meth, was rehabilitated. The couple had reconciled and wished to live together. The judge approved the request.
Police were called to Sinkule’s apartment earlier that fateful day. Assured that the incident was not physically violent, they left. Three hours later, Sinkule was dead.
“And that’s why we walk,” said Glenn and Claudia Sinkule, Nicole’s parents.
The Sinkules were among the hundreds present for YWCA’s Walk A Mile In Her Shoes, held on Oct. 13 at Downtown’s Martin Luther King Promenade. Men, women and children walked a mile in heels – although heels were optional – to raise awareness for domestic violence and to support the programs of the YWCA and YWCA’s Becky’s House.
“We keep Nicole’s memory alive by helping others,” said Claudia Sinkule. “We walk to help spread the word about a topic few are willing to talk about.”
“Domestic violence is a non-issue to many until it touches them; until they become victims,” continued Glenn Sinkule. “Walk A Mile In Her Shoes is a light-hearted day that brings exposure to the victims ashamed by their abuse.”
The Sinkules admit that they, the “poster children” for a club they never wanted to belong to, will walk every year until the cycle of domestic violence ends. Awareness and education remain key in aiding those too frightened to ask for help.
“Walk A Mile In Her Shoes is an event designed to engage men, and women, into discussing the issue of domestic violence,” said Heather Finlay, YWCA’s CEO. “Men walk a mile in heels in Downtown San Diego to raise money and bring awareness to the services that we provide while we strive to educate the community.”
According to Finlay, domestic violence is “pervasive.” One in 4 women and 1 in 7 men, experience violence, usually at the hands of a spouse or partner.
“Domestic violence knows no boundaries,” Finlay continued. “Domestic violence affects everyone regardless of race, gender, age, creed, income or where you live.”
“The public stigma associated with domestic violence says that it affects only lower income or depressed, high-crime areas,” added Larry West, walker, volunteer, and former board member and president of the board of directors for the YWCA. “Rancho Santa Fe victims – women from the wealthiest neighborhood in the county, some with advanced degrees – run parallel to victims from a lower, socio-economic status. Statistics even include men,” West continued.
West spoke of his 10-year tenure with Walk A Mile In Her Shoes as “one of the most masculine things a man can do.”
“Domestic violence shouldn’t be a taboo subject,” West said. “Pull the veil, step up and speak out. Men play a critical role by being aware and having the conversation. If we don’t get involved, if there is no investment, the cycle continues. Imagine being afraid of living in your own home. Imagine living in fear 24/7.”
West considers learning about the issues surrounding domestic violence and educating others as a “blessing.”
“Along with an education, I’ve gained perspective and empathy,” he said. “I’ve gained more than I’ve given. I’ve created relationships with like-minded people that have enriched my life. What I thought would be a labor empowers me. I’ll always be involved. I have a passion, an affection and a friendship for everyone at YWCA.”
Donning smiles and heels, West admitted that fundraising is challenging.
“It’s easy to buy a toy and be done with it while fundraising for organizations like the YWCA and Becky’s House is tough,” West said. “But it’s important to connect and communicate with the community. Today, federal, state and local governments give less and less. So, organizations like the YWCA and Becky’s House rely on the public, corporations and their communities to survive and thrive.”
Finlay plans to “grow the event and engage the community to understand the issues surrounding domestic violence.”
“We will continue to work to reach those who need help to let them know that they’re not alone,” Finlay said. “YWCA is dedicated to helping victims and families secure safety, recover from trauma, improve their economic status, obtain permanent housing and achieve lasting independence.”
Post-walk activities included fresh Mediterranean fare provided by Luna Grill, a silent auction, the incredible music of the trio Mo Jo Jackson, a GIF photo booth, face painting and family-friendly games.
“Everyone was so fantastic,” concluded Finlay. “The sponsors, volunteers and my entire team at YWCA were integral to the success of this event. Mo Jo Jackson are just fabulous musicians. And Luna Grill truly understands that a strong community is a community that’s supported by its businesses.”
—Lucia Viti can be reached at email@example.com.
San Diego YWCA
San Diego’s YWCA provides male and female victims of domestic violence emergency shelter 24/7. Founded in 1908, YWCA “empowers individuals and families to break the cycle of domestic violence and homelessness and achieve self-sufficiency.” Almost 10,000 people receive aid yearly through a full spectrum of programs, including a 24-hour crisis hotline; emergency and short-term shelter; longer-term housing; comprehensive housing solutions; and integrated services.
Becky’s House Domestic Violence programs
A regional emergency shelter for domestic violence victims and their children. Services include a 24-hour crisis hotline; therapeutic counseling; children’s and youth services; employment assistance; transitional housing; housing coordination; and rental assistance.
24-Hour Domestic Violence Hotline: 619-234-3164. Certified bilingual staff provide crisis counseling and critical resource referrals for victims and the community, 24/7.
Vi McKinney Becky’s House Shelter
The Vi McKinney Becky’s House Shelter provides domestic violence victims short-term emergency shelter. Services include safety planning, case management; legal services; therapeutic counseling; and housing stability.
Becky’s House Transitional Housing
Becky’s House transitional housing provides longer-term housing and supportive services for individuals and families of domestic violence. Services include case management, therapeutic counseling; legal assistance; children’s and youth services; education; and employment development in order to obtain permanent housing.