My name is Itzel Christina Villarreal and I am 22 years old. I want to share my story to the world about how I was sexually assaulted by my own cousin, Manuel, four years ago.
July 20th, 2013: I moved to San Jose, California the day after my 18th birthday. I went to live with my aunt Karla who lived with her son, Tyler, her sister Griselda, and two nieces. I initially moved there with the intention to make a better life for myself, begin school, and get a job. The first week I obtained my driver’s license, passport, and social card to aid me in starting my new life in San Jose. Since my aunt Karla was a city shuttle bus driver, she would work unpredictable hours. My cousin Tyler was always working as well and spent all of his free time with former girlfriend. Most of my time was spent at home with Griselda as I settled in. One day, my cousin Manuel, who my family calls "ALEX" came over to visit. Alex and I were always cool. He was one of my favorite cousins, so he always had my full trust. Since I was always alone, he would always call me every day to hang out. We would go out to eat, sight see, or just hang out with his daughter, who was four years old at the time.
August 10th, 2013: Alex came over with his four-year-old daughter and invited me to the San Jose Flea Market. As usual, I said yes—especially because I had never been. We got there and I was amazed! It was like a huge amusement park filled with rides, food stands, and shops where people would sell all sorts of things. We spent the whole afternoon there with his daughter. It was closing time and Alex invited me to his house to continue hanging out and chatting. On the way to his house, he stopped at the convenience store near his house and asked if I wanted a drink. I said yes and got myself two 24 oz Budweisers. We arrived at his house and he offered to prepare my beers in a glass mug dressed with salt and lime. Before I knew it, it was getting late and Alex asked me if I wanted to stay over with him and his four-year-old daughter. I agreed. Time goes by and before I knew, it everything appeared fuzzy. I don't know or remember why I was fighting with him. I vaguely remember pushing him away from me and throwing punches at him. I remember I punched his eye socket and this was justified when I noticed he had a black eye the next day. After I punched him, he put me in a head lock and I couldn't breathe. I was so terrified that I started to cry. He then threw me on the bed and I just remember being paralyzed not being able to move. I remember going in and out of consciousness and not being able to move. His daughter was there the whole time witnessing this. I remember hearing him yell at her to turn around and not look. He then assaulted me by performing oral sex and saying vulgar, disgusting things to me while I couldn't move or speak. I kept going in and out of consciousness and he continued to yell at his daughter not to look. He then started raping me. I couldn't move or scream. I lied there helplessly. I don't even remember how it ended because I lost consciousness. When I did regain enough consciousness, I remember violently convulsing. I lost consciousness again and woke up the next morning horrified. When I opened my eyes, I saw his daughter staring at me. I believed it was a nightmare for a second until I found my underwear on the floor. I was so petrified when Alex came into the room and acted like nothing had happened. He ordered me to get my stuff because he was going to drop me off back at my aunt Karla’s. The whole car ride was a painful silence. I was terrified and disgusted. So many emotions were running through my mind. When I got out of the car, he stopped me and threatened me not tell anyone that I had spent the night with him. I said nothing and kept walking. As I entered the apartment, Griselda asked me where had I been that night. I was so disturbed and embarrassed that I made up an excuse that involved staying at my cousin Margarita's house. I ran to the restroom and vomited from how sickened I was. A few days went by and Alex came over and tried to act like nothing was wrong. Like nothing happened, and he sat next to me in the living room and attempted to talk to me. For 17 days I locked myself in my room, crying, flooded with anxiety. One of those days, I spent time with my cousin, Margarita, and vented to her about everything that happened. She was angry, but I made her promise and swear to never say one word. I called my mother and lied to her that I wanted to go home because I was homesick. I flew back home on Tuesday, August 27th, 2013.
Four years pass by.
April 10th, 2017: I finally told my parents and family members what happened to me the night of August 10th, 2013. I am strong. I was no longer afraid, ashamed, or embarrassed. The truth had to finally come to light and all I wanted was some justice. He needs to suffer the consequences of his actions, regardless of the time.
April 30th, 2017: I flew to San Jose California to speak with SVU about what happened that dreadful day. Detective Brandon took my case. I had to identify who Alex was when he showed me his photo. I couldn't help but cry because I was so disgusted that I had to see him again. We had to acquire evidence because it had happened four years before. The detective had come up with a plan. The worst experience I had to endure then was to make a phone call to talk to him. During that phone call, all he did was blame me and say, "It's your fault that happened, that's what you wanted." I hung up because I couldn't bear listen to his voice any longer. The detective then told me since I had no proof or evidence it was best to drop the case. Nothing was going to happen. I dropped the case because I was convinced by others that I could not get any justice out of it. This is the reason why I am writing about it today. I want the world to know what happened. I DO deserve justice. I DO deserve my voice to be heard. I DO deserve a peaceful mind. I DO.
To my readers: always be careful and cautious. It doesn’t matter who it may be, close or not close to a person. Do not be afraid to stand up and speak out the truth. The sooner you speak out, the better. Never be embarrassed or ashamed because we are the victims. We can overcome this because we are ALL POWERFUL FIGHTERS AND SURVIVORS.