Like most women, I was unaware that I was a victim of domestic violence. My husband had managed to diminish me through years of psychological and physical abuse and even through the use of drugs. However, despite being almost destroyed, I managed to rebuild my dignity and demonstrate my innocence.
I loved my husband. I never imagined that he could harm me or that he would end up trying to destroy me. Nor did I think, when he started hurting me, that this could be intentional, since all the aggressors blame their victims. In my case, the victimization was so effective that, after each assault, I would analyze the incident over and over to try to find out what I had done to make my husband react in this way.
This is my story, that of a battered and immigrant woman who found no way to escape or hide; a Catholic who believes in family and who fought to keep it for the good of her children. However, in the end, and precisely for them, she was forced to leave that vicious marriage to save herself and them.
I am a Venezuelan journalist based in the United States. I was Miss Venezuela, Miss South America and second runner-up in Miss Universe in 1984. I completed my journalism studies in the United States with the distinction magna cum laude. In 1991, I joined the ranks of Telemundo-CNN reporters, becoming the news anchor in Houston, Texas. I am currently a successful businesswoman who is dedicated to charitable work, helping those most in need, especially women victims of domestic violence.
“You are charged with a single count of ‘intimidating a flight attendant.’” I am standing with my hands handcuffed and feet shackled—this is beyond humiliating. The judge continues: “The charge has a prison sentence of up to 20 years and a fine of $250,000!”
I can hardly hold my body up. My legs are shaking. I whisper to my lawyer that I am afraid in the quietest voice I can manage to get out of my lips. I can hardly speak. My life is passing by inside my head, all the light and happiness, my three beautiful children. And now my world has come to this? How? Why?
After all the shining moments in my life, after all the hard work, always helping others and holding my head high—because “doing the right thing” was the motto my parents raised me with—I am ending my life in prison! Will I become a felon? Me? The maximum that had happened to me before this was a traffic ticket. Will Alejandro succeed in setting me up?
My feet can hardly support my now extra tiny body; though tall, I now only weigh 110 pounds. I cannot control my shaking. I am hoping no one can notice.
My lawyer whispers in my ear to be calm.
The prosecutor addresses the judge and asks for my passports to be turned in—mine and those of my children.
“Her husband says she is a flight risk, Your Honor, and she will take his children away.”
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