She Was Attacked With Acid And Found Support Worldwide. She’s Now Speaking Out.

Tatiana Fernandez for BuzzFeed Information

Yocairi Amarante Rodríguez at her house in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Yocairi Amarante Rodríguez was heading to a magnificence salon in Santo Domingo final fall when two males on a motorbike sped as much as her automotive and chucked a container of “ácido del diablo,” containing sulfuric acid used for plumbing and sewer cleansing, by way of an open window and onto her face.

At first, she thought, Rattling it, they’ve thrown espresso on me, she recalled in an interview with BuzzFeed Information.

However then the liquid began to burn.

The 19-year-old jumped out of the automotive, crying for assist as bits of clothes and pores and skin melted off her physique. The motive force was additionally injured.

“They’ve thrown acid on her!” she remembers a lady close by shouting.

She was rushed to the hospital. It was Sept. 25. Days earlier, the person who police mentioned deliberate the assault — her ex-boyfriend — directed an alleged confederate on the right way to perform the assault, based on paperwork obtained on the Ciudad Nueva Courthouse.

“En la misma cara en la frente,” he allegedly wrote in a textual content. “On the face, the brow.”

Her assault is reflective of accelerating violence towards ladies in Latin America. It gained widespread consideration, together with a passionate video from Cardi B on Instagram. Amarante Rodríguez spoke at size for the primary time concerning the assault and the restoration course of with BuzzFeed Information, which might additionally reveal particulars from court docket data and police paperwork detailing the lengths at which her ex-boyfriend, Willy Antonio Javier Monegro, allegedly bodily and verbally abused her earlier than her look and life have been completely altered. She now intends to make use of folks’s beneficiant donations to open a salon of her personal.

Amarante Rodríguez was handled at one of many Dominican Republic’s solely burn items. “She nearly died,” mentioned Dr. Eddy Bruno, burn unit director at Ney Arias Lora Hospital.

Earlier than treating Amarante Rodríguez in particular person, Bruno reviewed photographs of her, which confirmed burns on her face, neck, and proper leg. Docs have been compelled to let the acid act for as much as 5 days earlier than treating her, he mentioned.

She would stay in Bruno’s care for 2 months, throughout which she would bear about 9 surgical procedures to take away useless tissue and apply pores and skin grafts.

She was discharged in November 2020, and he or she has an extended highway to restoration forward. She’s misplaced her proper eye, greater than 50% of the imaginative and prescient in her left eye, and her proper nipple. Hypertrophic scars attributable to the acid run down her neck, chest, breasts, arms, and legs.

Amarante Rodríguez spent days working in her sister’s salon braiding hair and enjoying with curling irons as a lady. Now, elements of her scalp won’t ever develop hair once more.

“Take a look at how I used to be earlier than,” she mentioned, scrolling by way of photographs on her telephone of herself with lengthy curly hair and lightweight hazel eyes.

“Now take a look at how I’m,” she mentioned, stripping the bandages off her face and lifting up her shirt to show her scars. “That’s how he left me.”

Tatiana Fernandez

Yocairi Amarante Rodríguez

As she was recovering within the hospital, information of her assault unfold on social media. Cardi B posted a video on Instagram holding a Barbie doll wearing scrubs and slamming it down on a desk feetfirst.

“Individuals of the Dominican Republic,” she says in Spanish within the video. “I’m going to inform my dad to place me involved with the police or any particular person of the Dominican Republic, and I’m going to supply $10,000 — not pesos, $10,000 — to whoever finds the folks which are chargeable for throwing satan’s acid on that lady whose face they burned.”

She added, “There ought to be justice.”

Santiago Matías, a well-liked Dominican radio persona, posted on his Instagram that he donated roughly $1,700 to assist together with her medical bills and put up about $5,000 for info on the perpetrators.

For Amarante Rodríguez, who made round $224 a month promoting lamps at a ironmongery shop close to the Dominican capital’s Avenida Duarte buying district, the donations meant so much.

“I felt quite a lot of happiness as a result of I felt quite a lot of help from the folks of the city, many prayers,” she mentioned. “I needed to perceive that my life was not going to finish with this.”

By Sept. 30, police recognized and arrested the alleged attackers — Joan José Feliz, Pedro Alexander Sosa Méndez, and her ex-boyfriend and father to her 2-year-old daughter, Willy Antonio Javier Monegro.

Collectively, the three males spent 15 days plotting the assault, based on court docket paperwork obtained by BuzzFeed Information.

In accordance with the paperwork, Javier Monegro contacted Sosa Méndez in early September, providing to pay him roughly $431 to throw acid on Amarante Rodríguez. He allegedly agreed and obtained roughly $60 earlier than the assault.

Sosa Méndez then sought out Feliz because the third confederate, based on court docket data. Javier Monegro informed each males the place Amarante Rodríguez labored and lived; he confirmed them {a photograph} they may use to acknowledge her, based on the data.

WhatsApp messages that have been included within the court docket paperwork present that the boys saved in contact the times main as much as the assault.

“Dame bien la ora okay eya sale,” Sosa Méndez texted Javier Monegro on Sept. 21. “Inform me precisely what time she will get out.”

“Mete mano ya estoy De seperao,” he replied the following day. “Hustle, I’m determined.”

“Trakilo eso va hoy,” Sosa Méndez responded. “Don’t fear, it’s going immediately.”

“En la misma cara en la frente,” Javier Monegro wrote. “On the face, the brow.”

On Sept. 25, Sosa Méndez and Feliz waited for Amarante Rodríguez to go away work, based on the court docket data. As she jumped into the passenger facet of a Toyota Corolla, they adopted her on a motorbike.

Sosa Méndez revved up the motorbike, and Feliz threw the acid at her by way of an open window, based on court docket paperwork. The assault was captured on surveillance footage, serving to the police determine and arrest the boys presupposed to be concerned within the assault.

Javier Monegro was charged with prison affiliation, torture or act of barbarism, and intrafamily violence, based on the paperwork. In court docket, he selected to stay silent.

The costs towards Sosa Méndez and Feliz are prison affiliation, torture or act of barbarism, and voluntary blows and wounds.

Throughout prison proceedings, the three males have denied their involvement within the assault.

In an October listening to to resolve if the boys ought to be jailed for a yr, Sosa Méndez mentioned he wasn’t the particular person on video, including that police informed him that “they have been going to make [him] speak with a bat.”

In court docket, Feliz additionally alleged that police had tried to beat him into cooperating and insisted that the motorbike concerned within the assault just isn’t his.

The general public defender representing Sosa Méndez and Feliz added, “They interrogated them with out their legal professionals being current. The proof introduced by the general public ministry is unlawful as a result of it was obtained in an illegitimate manner.”

A spokesperson for Dominican Republic Nationwide Police didn’t reply to a request for remark concerning the allegations made in court docket.

The three males have been positioned in jail for a yr, the place they’ll probably stay till the conclusion of the trial. On Feb. 19, 2021, a court docket dominated that the case would transfer ahead, however it’s unclear precisely when the trial will start.

In a telephone name final month, Ronell Rosado, an legal professional representing Javier Monegro, declined to touch upon his consumer’s case.

The lawyer listed as representing each Sosa Méndez and Feliz didn’t reply to an e mail requesting remark.

By her personal account, Amarante Rodríguez met Javier Monegro when she was 14 and he was 29. He labored on the manufacturing facility in entrance of her grandmother’s home.

Sooner or later, she requested him to provide her a journey on his motorbike. The 2 shortly grew to become a pair, and he or she moved into his mom’s home that yr.

Tatiana Fernandez for BuzzFeed Information

Yocairi Amarante Rodríguez exhibits a photograph of herself taken on Sept. 22, 2020, three days earlier than the assault.

They stayed collectively for 5 years. When she was 16, she grew to become pregnant and dropped out of faculty. All through their relationship, he repeatedly verbally and bodily assaulted her, she mentioned, including that she had by no means informed anybody concerning the alleged abuse.

In a December interview with a forensic psychologist, a transcript of which was a part of police data, she mentioned he saved her trapped in his mom’s home and compelled her to prepare dinner and clear. He didn’t let her go away the home with out him, she mentioned.

Throughout fights, she mentioned, he would push her, pull her hair, and name her derogatory names in vulgar Dominican slang that loosely translate to “motherfucker” and “cocksucker.”

When Javier Monegro allegedly tried to choke her in entrance of her sister, who intervened and tried to hit him with a bottle, Amarante Rodríguez informed the forensic psychologist.

He was remorseful after attacking her, she mentioned throughout the interview. She accepted his apologies as a result of she was in love with him.

She mentioned she ended the connection in early 2020.

Rosado, Javier Monegro’s lawyer, mentioned his consumer by no means bodily or verbally abused her. In an e mail to BuzzFeed Information, the lawyer mentioned there isn’t any proof to help her allegations, calling them “solely phrases and the accusation.”

“The sufferer can say what she needs however there may be nothing to show it,” Rosado mentioned in an e mail.

Marcia Aguiluz, managing legal professional for Girls’s Hyperlink Worldwide, a nonprofit aimed toward guaranteeing gender equality, mentioned the rise of home violence throughout Latin America and the Caribbean stems from the historic discrimination towards ladies throughout the area and machismo — the idea of exaggerated masculinity.

In a Zoom interview from Costa Rica, Aguiluz mentioned that circumstances of home violence in Latin America will not be remoted incidents.

“They’re a manifestation of that stereotype that girls belong to males,” she mentioned.

In accordance with court docket paperwork, Javier Monegro continued to harass her after their relationship ended, calling her as many as 44 instances in at some point. She subsequently blocked him on WhatsApp, Instagram, and Fb.

Two months after their breakup, Amarante Rodríguez began a relationship together with her present boyfriend, one thing that made Javier Monegro really feel unhealthy, based on police data. His neighbors made unfavourable feedback about her being with one other man, he informed police.

Two weeks earlier than the assault, she mentioned she bumped into one in every of Javier Monegro’s buddies, who informed her to watch out as a result of he was changing into more and more aggressive.

“I by no means thought he’d do that to me,” she mentioned.

The primary time she noticed her personal face, she was at house. Acid assault survivors will not be allowed to take a look at themselves within the mirror whereas within the hospital, her physician mentioned.

She mentioned her reflection stirred up suicidal ideas, which she overcame by excited about her daughter.

Tatiana Fernandez for BuzzFeed Information

Yocairi Amarante Rodríguez feeds her daughter Winny (heart) whereas her niece combs her hair and her mom, Santa Rodriguez, (left) holds a child on her lap in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Feb. 24, 2021.

Natalia Ponce de León, who survived an assault in 2014 in Colombia, mentioned she wished to die after a person doused her in sulfuric acid.

She would go on to kind the Natalia Ponce de León Basis, which was instrumental in passing a regulation guaranteeing ladies in Colombia obtain free medical and psychological care after an acid assault. Juan Manuel Santos, then the president of Colombia, signed the invoice in 2016.

A yr later, Melania Trump, then the primary girl, introduced Ponce with the Worldwide Girls of Braveness Award in Washington, DC.

Ponce informed BuzzFeed Information there may be nonetheless extra work to be finished globally to help survivors. She needs extra legal guidelines, just like the one she helped create in her personal nation, to be applied elsewhere.

Within the “Dominican Republic [and] Mexico, there isn’t any regulation. There isn’t any regulation that protects victims of assaults with chemical brokers,” Ponce mentioned. “And it is a profound ache as a result of it actually ought to be strongly punished.”

Survivors from the Dominican Republic have been turning to her charity for assist, Ponce mentioned, including that a lot of them wish to journey to Colombia to have their surgical procedures.

“They need to work for his or her rights — each one in every of them, in their very own nation,” she mentioned.

On the day Amarante Rodríguez got here house from the hospital, her household threw her a shock get together. Her daughter, Winny, who she hadn’t seen in months, didn’t acknowledge her.

“When she noticed me, the very first thing she mentioned to me was ‘Ahh! A cuco!’” a reference to a legendary monster, Amarante Rodríguez recalled. “I collapsed and started to cry.”

Tatiana Fernandez for BuzzFeed Information

Yocairi Amarante Rodríguez and her daughter Winny Javier Amarante

She is gearing up for greater than 10 reconstructive surgical procedures. The burns proceed to itch all through the night time. Her left eye is glazed over and doesn’t totally shut.

Although she’s hopeful, she is aware of she’ll by no means appear to be the girl in her Instagram photos once more.

She is concentrated on taking good care of her baby and opening a salon with cash Cardi B gifted her.

After police arrested the boys accused within the assault, Cardi B donated a part of the reward cash to her.

Amarante Rodríguez nonetheless has not been in a position to personally thank the hip-hop star for her generosity. “I thank Cardi B very a lot,” she mentioned, pleasure filling her voice.

Cardi B’s representatives didn’t reply to e mail requests for remark.

Amarante Rodríguez not too long ago ordered new indicators for the salon that learn: “Yocairi Magnificence Heart.” She hopes to open later this yr within the Villa Consuelo neighborhood of Santo Domingo.

Although she’s unsure about her future, she needs to complete highschool sometime and personal a thriving enterprise. The remaining is in God’s palms, she mentioned.

Her daughter doesn’t know her mom’s story to the fullest extent, she mentioned. She’s informed Winny that she burned herself in a fireplace. If she sometime finds out what occurred, she mentioned, it gained’t be from her.

Amarante Rodríguez is blissful to be alive. She spends her days laughing with siblings and cousins. Her humorousness hasn’t diminished. Her boyfriend hasn’t left her facet.

She implores youthful ladies to remain at school and report boyfriends on the first signal of abuse. “Don’t keep silent,” she mentioned. “For staying silent and never reporting it — this occurred to me.”

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