SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — For Daisey Aviles, a year without her cousin Jessica Rojas is a constant reminder of how Domestic Violence destroyed their lives.
“I want everybody to open your eyes so this won’t happen to nobody else and Jessica knows that we love her. Together we’ll get through this,” she said, teary-eyed.
Instead of Jessica having her 26th birthday surrounded by loved ones, friends and family gathered on the steps of Springfield’s City Hall, and marched down Main street to raise domestic violence awareness in her honor on the anniversary of her death.
“I’m real happy that we’re doing this, and I’m hoping next year we’ll come just like this,” smiled Rojas’ 11-year-old son Nathan Laporte.
Jessica had just finished celebrating her 25th birthday, when her boyfriend Jose Santiago stabbed her at her Washburn Street home. That’s why supporters say the Violence Against Women Act is so important.
“Without that funding, we wouldn’t have advocates like myself at police departments, at welfare departments, at DSS, and it’s that VAWA grant that allows agencies to place people like myself out there,” said Springfield Police Department’s Domestic Violence Coordinator Milta Vargas.
Though the house passed that act Friday, a little closer to home, community members feel that they can do their part to prevent these types of situations.
“It’s not taken serious. Domestic violence just doesn’t come along with someone hitting you. It comes along with a lot of other things, you know, verbal abuse, emotional abuse. So we want to get the word out. This is not a joke. It’s a crime,” Jennifer Rivera stated.
With the walk today, organizers hope they take a step closer to ending that abuse.
Family members also held a fundraiser at the Northgate plaza, where proceeds go to the Jessica Rojas Memorial Fund.