“The most dangerous time is when you leave. But I don’t think normal people know that,” said Marisol (Mari) Crespo, sister of domestic violence angel Iveliss Alvarado.
Domestic violence can affect anyone. Mari’s little sister, a mother of two and the glue that held the family together, was murdered at the hands of her husband in a horrific manner.
Iveliss was the youngest of four siblings. Mari said Iveliss was the one who’d plan family events, and a huge reason the family saw each other. “Now it’s like everything’s gone,” Mari said, adding that the family doesn’t get together the way they used to.
Mari said Iveliss loved Mari’s kids; whenever they needed anything, or when Mari needed emotional support, Iveliss would tell Mari’s daughter that she has the ability to get herself out of hard situations and told Mari’s son that he can stand his own.
Mari said when Iveliss began dating her abuser, she was secretive about it. From what Mari heard, Iveliss and her abuser knew each other from high school and were on and off for a few years. She said after he got out of prison and flew to their state, Iveliss was the one to pick him up from the airport. She thinks they connected on social media. Over time, the family heard snippets of his lifestyle as a drug dealer and ex-con.
One day while Mari’s husband was at work at the sheriff’s station, he found out from a few co-workers that police were contacted the previous night for a call concerning Iveliss. Iveliss and her boyfriend had been in a heated fight that ended in his arrest, but Iveliss promised everything was okay and that she was fine. Three days later, she and her boyfriend were married, and he took her out of state, leaving her children behind.
“She used to do everything for her girls,” Mari said. She thought maybe Iveliss was choosing to settle down and find a place to live first and would bring her daughters later. In hindsight, Mari wonders if her sister never intended to do this. “I think he must have had her scared about the girls.”
Mari remembers one time when one of Iveliss’s daughters asked to call her abuser “daddy,” since he and her mother were married. He told her to just call him by his first name. Mari thought, “if a man is not willing to be a parent, why would you want to be with him?” She said Iveliss was isolated after the marriage, to the point that Mari didn’t even know she had moved out of state with her abuser.
After a while, Iveliss decided to separate from her husband. She ended the relationship and moved in with her cousin – whom Mari said was male and gay–but this was another thing that drove her abuser into a jealous rage, sending her several texts. Mari said Iveliss feared for her safety, but even though he told Iveliss he was going to kill her, she didn’t believe he would ever actually do it. She said Iveliss felt he was always watching her.
In an attempt to get her abuser off her case, Iveliss moved in with a female cousin. She invited Mari’s 17-year-old daughter to visit her, to which Mari obliged. That weekend, on May 27, 2017, he found Iveliss at a family event and murdered her in front of her cousin and Mari’s daughter. When Iveliss’s mother came running out of the house, he approached her and said, “I killed her.”
“My thing is that people think that [it] can’t happen to people unless you live that kinda lifestyle… like the lifestyle [her abuser ] had… they think that it can’t happen to them,” Mari said, saying domestic violence can happen to anybody. She said people consistently ask “But why didn’t she leave him?” and they can’t seem to get that question out of their head. “I don’t think it’s as easy as they put it,” Mari said, “…okay so you’re blaming the victim… why aren’t you asking why he did what he did? He’s the bad person.”
Mari said girls should be aware at a young age of various behaviors and red flags that tell you a person is no good. She said when leaving an abuser, you need to be careful and not just leave. She said, “leave carefully and protect yourself.”
As an officer, Mari’s husband is involved with an organization called The Thin Blue Line, which supports families of officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. As a co-worker of officers, he’s considered a survivor.
“I wish there was something like that for us. It’s been two years and I’m not getting over it… not that you ever really get over it, but I’m every single day [sic] crying and playing it over in my head,” Mari said. Around the same time as Iveliss’s death, Mari was experiencing other deaths in the family as well – an in-law, and a brother.
She found Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence through social media, where she also found information about the Angel Families Retreat and the Angel Fund. She thought “maybe I should get involved and do this.” She and her daughter who witnessed Iveliss’s murder plan on attending the retreat.
“She was the best sister,” Mari said Iveliss was the only one who looked after the family the way she did. “She was awesome, and she didn’t deserve what she got.”
You can participate in the Angel Fund no matter where you live by donating to Iveliss’s scholarship. Your active presence from July 1 to 22 could make a huge difference in the life of a survivor. You can find Iveliss’s scholarship page here or text “Angel2215” to 71777.