Jessica Lovato, age 26

Santo Domingo Pueblo

There have been a few occasions in my life where I have become victimized by domestic violence. I’ve seen it as a child and it always seemed to be so natural, I wondered if it was supposed to happen to the ladies in my pueblo. Years went by, sexual comments were made as a young teenager, a rape occurred, I thought that was going to be the end. I thought it was my fault- since I was the one who took the drugs and allowed it to happen, since I was too high to comprehend what was going on. I thought that was the end when I decided to become a “Straight Edge” person to overcome that obstacle.

It happened again years later, with someone I thought I loved, this time it was different. Multiple incidents occurred, and always I thought they were my fault. I thought there was something wrong with me. I stayed in the relationship, scared, lonely, hoping that he was going to change. We both went to jail, I was by his side and I helped to bail him out. I loved what was there, “A Bonnie and Clyde Relationship.” I hoped for a better future every time an incident occurred; this was all just a minor setback, we’d be over it in time and create a future together. I always hoped for the best for us.

I became stressed out, I went to jail, and problems in my own family occurred. It was difficult for me to grow as an individual. I wanted things to work out, and unfortunately, things didn’t. I became pregnant. I was blamed that it was my fault, that I was the one that, “forgot to take my stupid pill”. I explained that there were rules to birth control that he didn’t understand. I had the baby. It was embarrassing that the father of my first born was drunk/hungover when he first saw the baby. I understood that there were emotional and behavioral issues associated with him, making it difficult for him to be there for his daughter. I accepted him for who he was, I was hoping that he would change. I wanted things to work, the way they did when we first started our relationship.

I gave him chances. I didn’t want to pressure him into becoming someone that he wasn’t, but at that point I became a mother. I didn’t want our daughter to feel the pressures of what her father was going through. He missed her first and second birthday because he was in jail. I didn’t want anything to do with him anymore. I heard that “Jail talk” too many times, and I was tired of it, too much repetition and all talk, no action. I left him, and I knew he understood why. I was tired, I didn’t want to explain myself anymore. I learned the only physical and emotional pain a woman would and ever should feel is the pain of giving birth. Those multiple fists and hands to the face only made me stronger. The pain from having a baby naturally was the pain a woman should feel, not from a man’s fists or words from hurting me mentally or physically and emotionally.

I’ve regained my strength to handle the physical pain but now I can’t help but remember those harsh words that took a dramatic toll on my life. I want to forget, but I can’t. I have no choice but to see him from time to time, just so our daughter could have a relationship with her father. She knows who her father is and I wouldn’t want to keep her from him.   I am just so over protective of her and I want to keep her safe. Safe from the damages I faced to become an independent woman.

I am now in a new relationship with a man who has two daughters. With our three, I really do hope they don’t face the struggles that I have faced as a young lady. I am hoping for the best, to raise our children with the respect that they deserve as well as respecting me as a mother. The new man understands where I came from and I hope he continues to help me achieve my goals of who I want to become in my life, and career. I am not going to take no shit from anyone anymore. I’ve learned from my past, and I am confident of the person I have become and who I will continue to be. This relationship only motivates me to grow as a mother, a model for our children and for our daughters to learn that there is more to life that what I have achieved so far.