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How to Stop the Revolving Door of Abuse

“My father told me I was intelligent and strong and a princess that could conquer the world. I was not a princess, because princesses are not hurt and there's someone to defend them.”

Rosie Rivera Flores was the youngest member of the musical Rivera family. Her brothers were musicians, and her sister, Jenni, rose to fame as an international singing star. But there was hidden heartbreak in this close-knit family.

Rosie was only eight when Jenni’s husband, Trino, started abusing her. “He told me that we were going to play a love game and I trusted him for being my sister's husband, but then I knew something was wrong.  I just couldn't explain it and I couldn't ask anyone because it was very scary and I felt very dirty.  It was a very confusing, scary game for me,” recalls Rosie.

Trino threatened to kill Jenni if Rosie ever told anyone and the abuse continued for three years. But once a teenager, Rosie discovered she wasn’t Trino’s only victim and told her sister the truth about her husband. “And she let out the world's biggest scream and I was with her, on our knees crying. She then asked me, ‘Anything else that I needed to know?’  And I just asked her… ‘Where is your daughter?’  and again, she immediately knew and she said, ‘Her too?’  and I just nodded…and she lost it again.”

The family called the police, and Trino went on the run. Rosie thought revealing her secret would make the pain go away. “I thought I would just automatically be better.  Just, if I just spoke up, I'd be free and I'd be healthy, but I wasn't. I was looking for love and peace and everything that the world offered me on a silver platter couldn't offer me love or peace.”

Rosie began leading a double life. To her family, she was a dedicated straight-a student. “But on the weekends I was a total mess,” she confided.  “If no one was watching, I was doing drugs, alcohol, very promiscuous.  I was still confused about the love game. If you give love, then that means you give your body and you receive love back.”

Rosie got pregnant at 21, but the father abandoned her. When another man began to show Rosie attention, she married him. “And he promised to make me a queen, and I thought, ‘I’m a queen now.  I'm finally someone worthy of someone's love’ …but my kingdom lasted three days.”

Rosie’s husband isolated her from friends and family and physically and sexually abused her. “The only way that I could escape was killing myself.  I just – I didn't want to be raped one more time in my life.  I couldn’t.  And I thought, ‘If I just die, everyone will be better. My 2-year-old daughter will have my mother and she will not have a mess as a mother, and I’ll be free.’”

One night, Rosie left a party at her brother’s house and ran out into the streets of one of LA’s most dangerous neighborhoods. “And I started to walk down the streets drunk, trying to make it to south central, knowing that I was going to find someone either to rape me and kill me, or I was going to make them upset and provoke them to anger to beat me and kill me.  One of the two was going to happen that night. So I started to take off my clothes and…my shoes, and my top flew here and there.”

Rosie screamed at passersby.  But when no one stopped, she lifted her cries to heaven. “I beg you to take me out of my misery! I cannot handle it anymore.” She emotionally pleaded, “Please if you have mercy – the way my mom says You do – kill me! And there was just silence.”

Exhausted, Rosie decided to sleep on the curb, hoping someone would run her over. But a few hours later, she was awakened by a voice that she knew was God’s. “And his voice said, ‘That's enough.  Go home.’ And I sit up immediately, cause I knew it was real and I looked all around to see if anyone was there and there was no one around.  But I knew it was Him.  I knew.  And He said it again.  ‘That's enough.  Go home.’”

In desperation, she agreed, "Okay. I'll go home but I don't know where my home is.  Where does a woman like me fit?  Where does a woman like me have a home?"

Rosie couldn’t return to her husband, but remembered her mother had always said an open church is home. She found a ride back to her brother’s house and called her mother asking to go to church with her the next morning. Rosie walked into the church in the same torn, dirty clothes she had worn the night before. “By the time the altar call comes, I literally run to the front just thinking, ‘There is something there. I know there's something there that is going to help me.’ And I finally surrendered to Him.  He set me free.  So I just started speaking to him in between sobs just saying, ‘This is me.  Do you think You can love me, just as I am, just this mess?  I need You to love me.’  And it felt wonderful for Him to say, ‘I do!’”  

Rosie gave her life to Christ and began a process of healing. She has forgiven Trino, who was finally apprehended and sentenced to prison. And she has written a book about her journey – My Broken Pieces. Jenni encouraged her to write the book before her tragic death in a plane crash in 2012.  
“What would I tell people and who would care?  You're the famous one.  Who cares about Rosie’s life? and she (Jenni) said, ‘This is so many young ladies' life. This is not your story.  This is everybody's story.’”  

Today, Rosie is happily married and has two children. She has a ministry to women who are victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Most of all, she has everything she always wanted - because of Jesus.  “He's everything to me and the world literally put everything on a silver platter for this little girl and none of it, not one thing, not love, fame, power, nothing the world's going to offer is what Jesus is to me. He's my friend, my Savior, my beloved, my husband, my partner, everything.  He is everything that I needed.”

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