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‘Humans of New York’ Just Featured a Latina Who Broke the Cycle of Abuse

Abuse is a tough cycle to break and even after walking away the fear will always linger. This Latina, who was featured on the photography page Humans of New York, has spent her life fighting against abuse. She’s finally at a place where she feels safe and comfortable.

Jessie Garcia grew up in a house of violence where her mom would beat her for anything from asking for food to breaking a dish.

(1/6) “I grew up in a household where you were beaten for small things. Like breaking a dish. Or asking for food. My mom was very religious, so she’d take us to church and we’d listen to the pastor talk about love. Then she’d still take us to the back room and beat us. I ran away when I was thirteen. I lived in group homes and foster homes in every borough. When I met him, I was working at the supermarket. I was sixteen. He was sixteen years older than me. He had a car. He was handsome. He’d do little things to make me laugh. He’d wait in a long line just to buy a stick of gum from my register. He gave me compliments. I’d never been complimented in my entire life. He called me smart. And pretty. And nice. He brought me flowers. I’d never experienced anything like that before. I felt so alone at the time. I was living at the group home. I didn’t have anyone to teach me about life. I wanted a family. I wanted a protector.”

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After living in group and foster homes, she thought she finally found the man to protect her and care for her. She was 16 and he was 32.

(2/6) “Looking back, I don’t know if it was love or lust. I didn’t have anything to compare it to at the time. He started driving me home from work. Then we started going on little dates. Soon we were spending all our time together. I moved out of the group home and began living with him. I cooked for him, and did his laundry, and ironed his clothes. It was natural for me. I’d done all of this for my siblings because our mother would leave us for months at a time. I’d always told myself that I was never going to be like my mother. I was going to be a perfect mom. And a perfect wife. And now that I had the man of my dreams, I’d do anything he asked. The first time he hit me was when I was seven months pregnant with our first child. I woke up to him screaming at me: ‘You see I’m awake, now get up and help me!’ I need help with my insulin!’ I tried to help him with his insulin but I didn’t do it right. So he pushed me on the floor.”

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Jessie moved in with him…it wasn’t long before he began abusing her. The first time he hit her, she was seven months pregnant with their first child.

(3/6) “I started to become afraid of him. But I never argued back because I thought it would make him even more angry. He started to pick on me. He’d criticize how I dressed. And how I wore my hair. I remember it used to bother him that I used the word ‘love’ so much. I was an optimistic girl, so I was always talking about how I ‘loved’ things. ‘Stop saying that word,’ he’d say. ‘Why do you love everything? That’s so stupid.’ I remember one night he hit me because I mixed his vegetables with his rice. I became very still and quiet around him. Just like I’d been with my mother. Remember—this was all I’d ever known. ‘It’s normal,’ I told myself, ‘Everyone gets a beating sometimes.’ We had five children together. It’s hard to explain why I stayed. He began beating blood out of me. But then he’d hug me and tell me he was sorry. He’d tell me that he needed me. He told me about his childhood. He told me that his father beat him every day. He told me that he had no mother. He used to say: ‘I see you as my mother.’ And that made me feel good. ‘I need you,’ he’d say. And that feeling of being needed is what kept me in that house. He was the father of my children, after all. I told myself he’d been traumatized. And it wasn’t his fault. But here’s the thing– I’d been traumatized too. And I didn’t hurt anyone.”

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The man blamed his rough upbringing for his temper but Jessie thought about the violence in her youth and how she’d never treated anyone that way.

(4/6) “One day the counselor at my daughter’s elementary school called me. She said that my daughter had spoken up in class about the abuse. She asked me to come in for a meeting. I downplayed it because I was scared. I told her: ‘Thanks for your concern. But it was nothing, really. And it’s already stopped.’ The counselor gave me a pamphlet for a place called HeartShare. HeartShare was just two blocks from my house, so I stopped in one day. I told the counselor what was happening. She discussed the option of domestic violence shelters. But I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to break up my family. Then one day he beat me so badly in the stairwell. He punched me so hard that he got blood on my children. I told the counselor what happened and she said to gather all my papers. She told me she’d be in a black car on the corner. I told my husband I was going to the grocery store. I was so nervous because he timed me every time I left the house. I still had to pick up the kids from school. And if I was gone for more than a few minutes, he’d come looking for me.”

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So she left with her kids and found a shelter.

As a single mother of 5, she’s started over. Though she struggles, she is grateful that she and her children are finally safe and she feels lucky.

(6/6) “I’m trying to make it on my own. It’s been a tough road. I fell behind at our first apartment and we got evicted. But I went through a job program for women and now I work as a case manager with Coalition for The Homeless. We moved into a two-bedroom in Bedford-Stuyvesant. I love my job, but I’m trying to raise four kids on a single income. We don’t have much extra stuff. We don’t have cable. The kids say they need internet for school but we’d need a computer for that, so we just go to the library. I’d love to hang up nice curtains. Or paint the house. But I don’t want to make our apartment into a home because I’m afraid to get too comfortable. I’ve already come close to missing rent so many times. I feel like I can never relax. But I have the most wonderful children. They never want me to buy them new things. But I’m afraid that I’m damaging their confidence. I can’t do anything nice for them. And I don’t want them to grow up feeling like they don’t deserve nice things. But at least we’re together. And we have a home. And we’re safe. I tell the girls all the time that we should feel lucky. I think they get tired of me saying that. But I honestly feel that we're so lucky.”

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Share this story to raise awareness of domestic violence. Some times you never know what the person you see every day is really going through.

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AOC’s Quote About Being The Only Daughter In A Latino Household Is Getting Latinas Fired Up

Fierce

AOC’s Quote About Being The Only Daughter In A Latino Household Is Getting Latinas Fired Up

Brittany Greeson / Getty

As young Latinos, there’s no denying the fact that learning to fold our family culture into the customs we acquire as Americans can shape our abilities to handle pressure. In the process of assimilation, we learn how to meet the demands of our parents and our peers all the while juggling the everyday expectations we shoulder while in school.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez knows all about managing these expectations. Last year, while addressing the media’s desire to see her pursue her career and fulfill societal expectations of her personal life (AKA get married) the politician reminded her followers that she can handle pressure because she grew up in a Latino household.

To boot, she was the only daughter in her home.

But what about the rest of us?

Those of us who maybe aren’t quite yet thriving politicians but manage to succeed in our everyday lives and do it all? We asked Latinas on FIERCE about how they’re able to relate to AOC’s comments and the responses were not only enlightening but a good reminder of Latina strength.

“And the oldest for that matter!! You not only learn to be tough, but also to be resourceful and amazingly great at delegating.” – emramirez1

“So true ughh the oldest child the only female and the first American born and the first to go to college oyeeeee the PRESSURE #mujerfuerte AINT NO ONE CAN TAKE ME DOWN lol por que our familia made us strong!” –paulinacastrellon

“Or the OLDEST daughter.” –m0zz_

“And be a food server for many years…” –kimoti_87

“Only daughter and only child! Thats some other level of #latinohousehold.” –wellnessparalamama

“Or a daughter in a Latino household with a strict father period!” –elliev03

“Look i went through allot and none of it made me stronger im a very shaky person theres a difference between trauma and tough love , i think she had tough love trauama fucks u up.” –__head___in___the____clouds__

“Oldest daughter, of 3 girls! You are the example!” – _cynnrenee

“I only wish the means to becoming tough and handle pressure for a Latina daughter didn’t root in traumatic machismo (male chauvinism) and systematic inequalities experiences. Surely there are ways to learn to have an affirmative tone and handle pressure without the trauma.” – marimukkii

“Or just being in a Latina household, period.” –mar_knut

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Amid Rising Domestic Violence, Mexico’s AMLO Says That 90% Of Women’s Calls For Help Are Fake

Things That Matter

Amid Rising Domestic Violence, Mexico’s AMLO Says That 90% Of Women’s Calls For Help Are Fake

Hector Vivas / Getty

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, AMLO, has faced serious criticism from around the world for his handling of the Coronavirus pandemic. His government has been accused of fumbling its response and not having a real, concrete plan to help the country of nearly 130 million people weather the storm.

However, before the pandemic arrived, AMLO was also in hot water for his handling of increased gender-based violence across the country – with femicides reaching record levels. So far, his response has been to brush the issue away as ‘fake news concocted by his opposition.

Now the two issues of femicide and the pandemic have collided as there’s also been an increase in domestic violence, as victims are forced to stay at home. But yet again, AMLO is denying these reports as fake news.

The Mexican President said that Coronavirus lockdowns won’t contribute to violence as much as in other countries because ‘Mexicans are different.’

At one of his daily press conferences meant to address the Coronavirus and a variety of other issues affecting the country, President AMLO made sure to preface his statement with a fairly long disclaimer of sorts. He urged the media not to misquote him or misreport what he said – but it was quite clear:

“I’m going to give you a piece of information that doesn’t mean that violence against women doesn’t exist,” AMLO said. “I don’t want you to misinterpret me because a lot of what I say is taken out of context: 90% of those calls … are false, it’s proven.”

Instead, the president maintained a more romantic view of life under quarantine in Mexico, where he said “there has always been harmonious cohabitation.”

“The Mexican family is different from families in Europe and the United States; Mexicans are used to living together, being together. … In the homes of Mexicans, the children are there, the daughters-in-law, the grandchildren, and there has always been harmonious cohabitation. In other places, where this tradition, this culture, doesn’t exist it might be that isolation causes aggravation, confrontation and violence,” he said.

President AMLO is literally denying several reports that contradict his hopeful narrative.

Credit: Hector Vivas / Getty

According to the Spotlight Initiative, a partnership between the United Nations and the European Union that is aiming to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030, Mexican women made more than 115,000 calls to the 911 emergency number in March to report violence, a 22% increase compared to February. The figure equates to an average of 155 calls per hour during the month.

But according to the president, 90% of these are fake.

After his own Interior Secretary estimated that violence against women had increased 60% during the coronavirus isolation period, the president said it wasn’t necessarily true.

Such violence “cannot be measured using the same parameters as the rest of the world. In Mexico we have a culture of solidarity within the family. The family in Mexico is exceptional, it’s the most fraternal human nucleus…”

For his part, AMLO did say that the Interior Ministry and the National Women’s Institute are taking action against the problem but sought to downplay its severity.

Denying violence against women has been a cornerstone of AMLO’s presidency.

Almost 1,000 women have been murdered in Mexico in the first three months of the year, in comparison to 890 murders last year. Nearly 250 of these murders are attributed to femicide, or the act of killing a woman because of her gender. Across the region, domestic abuse rates have drastically increased since countries began nationwide lockdowns. Nearly 20 million women and girls experience sexual and physical abuse each year in Latin America.

Endless stories on horrific murders – and daily indignities such as harassment, catcalls and being groped on public transit – have prompted a burgeoning women’s movement, whose members have protested online and in the streets and organized a national women’s strike on March 9th.

However, the president has cast himself as the victim of feminist activists and an opposition that is creating the issue solely to undermine his presidency.

Feminists continue denouncing femicides committed during the pandemic and demanding justice. Despite campus closures, students maintained a five-month-long occupation of the School of Philosophy and Letters at Mexico’s top public university, UNAM, and its affiliate high schools over authorities’ inaction in the face of widespread sexual harassment, assault, and even the deaths and disappearances of students.

Despite the López Obrador’s remarks, his supporters are still hopeful that his government can implement a feminist agenda.

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