I was sixteen and naïve when I fell in love with a man, I thought would love me forever but almost destroyed me. The hardships I endured while in this relationship changed me forever.
When I was sixteen, I fell in love head over heels for a man I thought would respect me and love me forever. Soon, I became pregnant and then is when everything started to change. We were determined to have our baby but being so young, I went to my parents for support but instead, I was kicked out as my parents did not support my relationship and because I brought shame to the family having a child out of wedlock. I was left alone with no choice than to move in with my boyfriend and his mother. I thought I would be okay, that I would be safe and taken care of but, I was wrong, so very wrong. As I did not know it then, I was about to step into a whirlwind of abuse that soon left me broken.
I moved in with my boyfriend and his mother and then my life completely changed. All of what I once had was gone. I began to lose myself as I catered to his every need. I lost sight of who I was or who I wanted to be just to please him but also because I felt I couldn’t be anything else. He started physically and verbally abusing me every day. His mother would not help, nor did she intervene. I had no one to come to my rescue. I was forced to have sex. I was not allowed to work but instead forced to enroll for Government Assistance in where they then stole my cash and Food Stamps for their own use. They bought food but I was not allowed to open the refrigerator. I needed to ask first and even at asking that would cause fights. To avoid fights, I simply stopped asking for food, . I soon found myself, five months pregnant, beaten and at 90lbs. I was charged for using toilet paper, 10 cents per sheet.
Soon, I found myself underweight and afraid, for myself and my baby. I lived with abuse and that was okay because I put myself in that situation. A year later, I was pregnant again. I was enslaved in an environment in where I had no voice and nothing of my own. Then, one day everything changed.
I was sent out to pick up a cheesesteak sandwich and from the beginning I felt a knot in my stomach, something was not right. I hurried to complete the task I was given and ran home to find my son, smothered while my boyfriend, my baby’s father just watched him. I hurried to pick him and asked what he was doing, and he responded by saying, “that he just won’t stop crying” and cursed at out 12-month baby. That night, while everyone was asleep. I left, in the middle of night. That night, I passed a churched and prayed and I knew at that moment, what I needed to do. I returned but with a plan.
The day came for my mother and me to meet after years of not talking. She met her grandsons and noticed how malnourished we were. She helped us run away from the abusive home we were living in, and we moved to my aunt’s house in Texas. My Aunt in Texas helped with my boy’s upbringing, she encouraged me to love myself and build my own confidence.
After reaching out to my mother and moving to Texas, I had another goal to accomplish. I had to repair the broken relationship between my father and me. I did not know how to go about it, but with my mother’s help, I was able to contact my father and talk to him. I was hesitant at first, because I felt ashamed, sad, and angry that I had caused all this pain to him and my mother. The day came for us to meet again, and we reconciled our relationship. I told him that I was so sorry to have caused so much pain. He told me the reason why he made the hard decision to leave his house. He said, “I wanted you to learn a lesson about life.” I had to live all these hardships in life for me to learn the lesson my father was trying to teach me. “You have to hit rock bottom to realize how quickly your life can change when you make the wrong decisions”, he said. My father forgave me and that made me happy. He met his grandchildren, and he became a positive role model in their lives.
After reconciling my relationship with parents, they helped get my life together. I went back to my parent’s home and my father started talking to me about faith and the process of healing. I obtained a job in his business by doing taxes and customer service. I still remember my first celebration, a chocolate candy bar I bought for myself, it was the first item I could say was truly mine. During that time, I also began to learn about God and how on that night, I felt a sense of direction, of knowing what I needed to do to save myself and my children. Slowly learned to be me, a strong Latina woman, knowing what I can do on my own but being strong enough to ask for help.
Today, I can say I made it. The lessons I learned; I embrace as he made me who I am today. What I tell others? “Seek God and he shall lead your way”, and he is still leading the way for me. I never looked back, I learned to love myself and I continue to be safe with my two boys with a support network that will always be there for me.
Today, Jocelyn Sepulveda is 35 and mother of two boys, Tino age 16 and Juelz age 15. Strong in her faith she now helps others in need and continues to work in a bank, teaching her sons the value of hard work in order to make it on your own.