“Sexual assault is something that happens too often and something needs to be done”

I am Vanessa Guillen

For months, Vanessa Guillen’s family has been searching for answers since her disappearance in April.

Imagine searching for your son or daughter every second? Not knowing where they are, not knowing what happened. You’re searching for answers, but somehow no one seems to know anything. You try to be strong for your missing son or daughter, you try to be strong for the family. But deep down, you’re hurting. But it hurts more when your son/daughter’s second family lets them down. Hours, minutes, seconds go by, but no one knows anything. As your instinct tells you something is not right, you know someone out there knows where he/she is at.

Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen from Houston, Texas, went missing from the parking lot of her Regimental Engineer Squadron Headquarters, in Fort Hood, Texas. Vanessa’s car keys, barracks room key, identification card and wallet were later found in the armory room where she had been working earlier in the day.

According to the Guillen Family, they say Vanessa felt unsafe at Fort Hood, claiming someone was harassing her.Vanessa never told her mother the name of the accuser nor reported him to the unit.

Days went by since her disappearance and a reward was issued for any information regarding her whereabouts.

Yet no one had answers.

On July 1, the suspect connected to Vanessa’s disappearance committed suicide before being arrested by investigators. However, his alleged girlfriend Cecily Aguilar, was taken to custody and charged for helping the suspect, Aaron Robinson to dispose of Vanessa’s body.

Vanessa’s remains were found June 30. The Guillen family says the US Army Criminal Investigation Command never provided information about the suspect, or about the incident. The family lawyer says the suspect allegedly attacked Vanessa with a hammer then attempted to burn her body. When that didn’t work out the suspect and his girlfriend Cecily, dismembered Vanessa placing her remains in a shallow grave attempting to cover her in cement.

People all over the country have taken the streets to voice their frustration and anger of how the Army has let one of their soldiers down.

Today I had the privilege of attending my first protest ever. It wasn’t crazy, it wasn’t wild, it was just perfect. You see, one thing I love about Yuma is how strangers unite together and make you feel you’re right at home. Today was a moment for everyone to join together and talk about Vanessa, the tragedy she went through, and how this isn’t the first or last time it’s happened in the military.

I met some incredible people today who rushed from work to the protest to show their support for Vanessa’s family. You may be thinking, ‘Vanessa is not the only one, it’s happened to others, why this person in particular,’ and the answer is simple. It made it to national news because of Vanessa’s mother. Everyday she fought for her daughter, everyday Vanessa’s command would see her calling, everyday she begged local news stations for help regarding her daughter’s disappearance. This was a U.S. soldier who went missing without a trace. With no leads or clues to follow, the family kept fighting hard, for they knew Vanessa’s case wasn’t going to be swept under the rug.

This evening I met two incredible women who voiced their reason why they were there.

While protesting, I met Daniela and Penny, two women that were present to support the Guillen family through their pain and sorrows.

I asked Daniela why she decided to join the other protesters today and she replied, I’m trying to spread more awareness, sadly this happens every moment of the day. There’s at least one rape, one abuse.” I also asked her what message she had for the Yuma community in which she replied, Just participate in these protests because I know you guys retweet stuff online but it starts with your own community, right here right now, in this town. I know you want to go to L.A. and pride and all of that but you have to start here. Take baby steps, that’s what matters.”

Her friend Penny says as a mother to a little girl, this tragic event infuriates her, There’s been a lot of things going on lately and we want justice and we want accountability within the military industrial complex. We want murderers in uniforms to have accountability and to pay the consequences, they need to stop being protective.She continues to voice her concerns for Vanessa and her family by saying, It’s heartbreaking. As a women it’s heartbreaking and I’m a mother I have a child and that’s something I don’t wish upon anyone. The fact that they kept it from her for so long the fact that they didn’t do anything. I’m glad the family spoke up because this would be just like any other case that was hidden under the rug. Sexual assault is something that happens too often and something needs to be done.

To read more on Vanessa Guillen’s latest story, click here.

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