Opinion: Attention women – learn how to say 'no' or you may wind up dead

I’m a 30-year-old Latina and a journalist. We’ve all heard about it on the news, from a friend, or someone we know, who unfortunately have been victims of what’s called "domestic violence." Just like many other things in life we think, “Well, that won’t happen to me.” And that’s exactly what I always thought until I met Debbie Flores-Narvaez.

In reality, I didn’t get to meet Debbie in person; I met her after she was brutally murdered. Yes, I’m a crime reporter. It was December 2010 and someone sent me a message on Facebook asking me for help about a missing Las Vegas Dancer; her name was Debbie. She was a beautiful Puerto Rican attorney who at age 30, decided to leave her job in Baltimore to pursue a career as a dancer in Sin City. As odd as it may sound, and against her family’s wishes, she did it.

Every nine seconds a woman is beaten in the United States. As women, we have the power to walk away, to call the police and to say to ourselves 'No More.' It’s in our hands to stop this.

— Carolina Sarassa

Not only did she find fame and a boyfriend, she found death in the hands of the love of her life. She was beautiful, smart and well educated. He was talented, charming and a ladies’ man. Debbie couldn’t comprehend how that man whom she loved so much could have eyes for other women. He abused her verbally, physically, emotionally, and ended her life. To cover his crime, Jason – her boyfriend- dismembered the beautiful dancer’s body with a handsaw and hid her in plastic containers filled with cement.

Her friends had warned her, and she knew that man was never going to change. Nevertheless, she continued to pursue that toxic relationship. She could have said 'no,' but love had her blindfolded. The truth is very cruel: Debbie is dead and her boyfriend in prison for the rest of his life.

Could anything have been different if Debbie or even Jason had said 'no'? Could these types of tragedies be prevented? What can we do as a community to put a stop to domestic violence? As I said, I never had the pleasure to meet Debbie in person, but I know she would have wanted to warn other women about what happened to her.

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Almost five years have gone by, and Debbie’s story was fading from people’s memories. I’m humbled to be able to tell her story with a true-crime book titled “Dancing on Her Grave: The Murder of a Las Vegas Showgirl.” My co-author Diana Montane and I want to make sure Debbie doesn’t become just another statistic of domestic violence.

Every nine seconds a woman is beaten in the United States. As women, we have the power to walk away, to call the police and to say to ourselves 'No More.' It’s in our hands to stop this.

I invite you to read my book and get a glimpse of what happens every nine seconds in our country.