From Donna Mroz, Director of Domestic Abuse Initiative: A shout out to Tim Muehlhoff for coming monthly to Fullerton PD domestic abuse support group. He is teaching us physical self-defense as well as self-defense against emotional abuse. For Valentine’s Day, his students came and gave all of the woman roses, knowing how much it would mean to them. Thank you to Tim, Eddy, Kelly, and class members. You rock!
We asked Tim a few questions.
How did you first get involved with OC United’s Domestic Abuse support groups? — Why?
A couple of years ago, BIOLA started the Center for Marriage and Relationships. One of the key aspects of the center is our “Neighbor Love Initiative”. We wanted to be good neighbors to people in neighboring cities and especially to groups that aren’t on the top of people’s lists or get enough attention. Women who have experienced abuse have always been on my heart. About the same time I made that part of the Neighbor Love Initiative, I had the opportunity to speak last year at OC United’s gala. After the event, I connected with Donna who said that I needed to get involved and come to the domestic abuse support group. In addition, this same neighbor love initiative is the one that brought us to recently provide a marriage conference at Valencia Park Elementary School in partnership with OC United.
What is one memory from your involvement that had a particularly meaningful impact on you?
I teach a class on gender and communication at BIOLA and we have a huge section on gender violence – particularly violence against women. I immediately asked Donna if she would come. She came to share her story along with one of the women from the support group. As they shared their stories, you could hear a pin drop in the room. It was incredibly powerful and you could see the students visibly moved by this. We gathered around and prayed for them. Some of the students came up to me after this class and said, “We noticed Valentines Day is coming up. Can we come one night and give the women flowers and some cards? We feel like this might be a very difficult time for them.” Donna said it would be great. Before the support group that evening, the students and I went to Albertsons in Brea for the flowers. We asked the managers, ” Hey! We’re doing this thing — would you guys cut us a deal on the roses.” They gave us all of the bouquets for free! The assistant manager who really went to bat for us was a woman named Laura Owens. You should have seen these bouquets. Above and beyond. They were amazing. It was so cool to get Albertson’s involved. We went that night, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place, our students surrounded them, prayed for them. It was really, really powerful.
What have you learned along the way?
There are people in our community that are hurting, that the justice system doesn’t always help, that are in unsafe relationships, that cannot get out — I usually go across my middle class life without stopping to think about these people. However, true religion in the sight of God is caring precisely for these people who don’t have a voice – who don’t have resources. There’s a part of our community that is really easy to turn away from but as Christians. We’re called to turn toward it.
What does a communication professor have to do with self defense?
My PhD was in conflict resolution between couples *laughs* Well, I became a Christian through a ministry called Michael Crane’s Karate for Christ. I was 13 and it was the first time I had ever heard the Gospel. I accepted Christ. It was horrible for my Karate because I moved away from that but it was great for my walk with the Lord. I really always wanted to go back and get my black belt. About 6 years ago, I came across Brea Shao-Lin Kung Fu — great guys, the instructors are phenomenal. I just tested for my black belt in Shao-Lin Kung Fu. We don’t get our results right away. It could be weeks, months, before we get our results. I tested two weeks ago and haven’t heard yet. I teach the women the distinction between verbal and physical self-defense. The verbal is what’s most important. How do you deescalate a tense conversation where your partner is angry and moving toward an explosion? That’s what I’ve been trying to teach these women.
How has this been for you?
This impacted me in two ways. One, listening to Donna’s story and the abuse she encountered and the murder of her daughter. She could have become bitter in a heartbeat — toward God, toward the justice system, toward men — but she chose to go the opposite way. She went to me, a male to help serve and be involved — and to meet now in the Fullerton Police Station — the very same police department involved during the murder of her daughter. And second, the raw courage of these women has deeply impacted me. The first time I was there, I asked for scenarios. One woman said, my ex-husband had jumped in the back of my car trying to steal my son while choking me. This was courage that I hadn’t seen in a long time that was inspiring. These women have the courage to stand up for there loved ones and it’s just amazing to watch.
Anything in addition to add?
Nope! That’s about it.
Quotes from the women in the support group regarding Tim and his students
- No one has ever done anything like that for me in my life. I cried tears of gratitude.
- I was amazed that so many students showed up for us. It made me feel so special.
- I am so grateful for Tim and his wisdom that night with his students and the roses are etched in my heart forever.
- Tim has taught us how to guard not only our bodies but also our minds. Thank you.
Interested in getting involved with our Domestic Abuse Initiative or support groups? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org