A woman who is scarred from being shot in the face by an ex-boyfriend said she doesn't see what others see when she looks in the mirror.
Johanna Orozco, a Cleveland resident who survived being raped at knifepoint and shot, told Columbian High School students Tuesday afternoon that she used to let her scars describe her, but she has overcome it.
"That's not who I am," she said.
PHOTO BY JILL GOSCHE
Johanna Orozco, a Cleveland resident who survived being raped at knifepoint and shot in the face, speaks at Columbian High School Tuesday afternoon.
Orozco said she had known her ex-boyfriend since second grade, and they were friends before they thought about dating. She said she was surprised they had a lot in common, and they shared a connection of growing up in abusive homes.
"I told him about what happened to my family," she said.
They officially became a couple Feb. 27, 2005. Orozco described him as tall, dark, handsome, outgoing, funny, smart, respectful and romantic.
"We fell in love with each other, madly in love. ... We wanted to be together at all times," she said.
Orozco said little things started to change between the two of them several months into the relationship.
"He started to be a very jealous person. ... In time, that jealousy wasn't cute anymore," she said.
Orozco said her boyfriend's jealousy led him to be controlling of her. He questioned her and said hurtful things to her, and she became a depressed person who isolated herself from her family and friends.
She said she broke up with him after he assaulted her, but he cried and apologized.
"I went back many times," she said.
Orozco said she had been dating him for two years total when she decided to break up with him for good. She said she ended the relationship over the telephone and was blessed to have three amazing friends.
"Most importantly, they never judged me," she said.
Orozco said after the breakup, he called her constantly. About a week later, he raped her at knifepoint and threatened to kill her and burn down her house if she told anyone.
"He meant business," she said.
The boy immediately was arrested when word made its way to law enforcement, and he was let out on house arrest four days later. Orozco said he continued stalking her, and March 5, 2007, he approached her while dressed in black, pulled out a shotgun and shot her in the face.
She said part of her face was missing, and a medical team built her a new jaw.
"I was not able to talk at all," she said.
Orozco said she returned home two months later.
"I was excited to sleep on a normal bed. ... I wanted to go back to school," she said.
Orozco, who graduated with the class of 2007 and was 18 years old at the time of the incident, said her ex-boyfriend accepted a plea deal and is spending 27 years in prison without the opportunity for parole.
She has appeared on national television programs, has met the president and vice president of the United States, has helped pass two laws and is to get married this summer. She now visits schools across the country to share her story.
"It happens everywhere," she said.
Libra Martin, director of Seneca County's victims' assistance program, and Jonathan Ketter, an assistant prosecutor in Seneca County's prosecutor's office, also spoke to students about consequences of crimes and warning signs of abuse.