Crime victims' advocate opens resource center in Santa Ana

Thursday, April 5, 2018
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Patricia Wenskunas' own story of survival inspired her to open the Crime Survivors Resource Center.

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- For Patricia Wenskunas, it was a mixed day of emotion. Her dream of opening a crime survivors resource center in Santa Ana came true -- but that dream was born from a nightmare.

Sixteen years ago, Wenskunas was fighting for her life. "On April 4, 2002, I decided that with this next breath, I would live my life as well for community above self," Wenskunas said.

Drugged by her personal trainer Jeffrey Kelavos, Wenskunas awoke to find herself stripped naked, her face covered with plastic wrap.

"When he started screaming that he was going to kill my son, everything changed," Wenskunas said.

Her attacker beat her. Wenskunas said she fought back, and managed to survive, thinking of her 12-year-old son.

Kelavos was later convicted of assaulting and threatening her. He received only 120 days in jail, something that still bothers Wenskunas.

It compelled her to start Crime Survivors Resource Center, to provide guidance and support to other victims. "I'm celebrating everyone who has come together to unite to be able to make this dream happen," Wenskunas said.

Now, with the new resource center located next to a trauma center in partnership with KPC Health, she said victims of violent crime will have a place to go for help.

"If they need food, if they need clothing, if they need therapy, if they need counseling, we're here to provide that for them," Wenskunas said.

The center also has training space for law enforcement, trauma training, therapy and support groups.

"I think it's beautiful. It's great," said Frances Rodriguez, a Board Member of Crime Survivors. "Anyone that walks in here, they know they'll get help."

Crime Survivors said it offers 20 programs right now, but expects to offer more.