SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Nine years ago, Jessica Rojas was murdered on her 25th birthday by her ex-boyfriend, Jose Santiago. On Saturday, her family, friends, and the Springfield community came together to honor her and others who suffer from domestic violence.
“Her smile, her smile, she was a happy person...her smile. Everybody loved her," said Jessica's cousin Daisy Alviles.
The family and friends of Jessica, along with the Springfield community, came together for a domestic violence awareness ride on Saturday.
“This is in memory of Jessica Rojas. Jessica was a beautiful young woman, 25 years of age, and fell victim to domestic violence. She was killed, and it affected her family, those of us at the Springfield Police Department who worked with her. It affected the whole community," said Springfield Police Department's Cheryl Clapprood.
Each year in her memory, the community comes together to honor Rojas and others who suffer from domestic violence. Clapprood told Western Mass News the main goal is awareness.
"I hope it just brings some, sort of, knowledge to people that it still goes on every day," she noted. "It’s something that happens behind closed doors, and people don’t want to get involved with it. But it certainly does affect lives."
Mayor Domenic Sarno echoes the call for awareness.
"So please, any telltale signs of domestic violence, contact our police department. We are here. They are here to help you," he said.
Alviles is hopeful that sharing her cousin’s story will help others in the community.
Demonstrators are gathering for the Women's March in Washington and related rallies across the country Saturday, with many of the movement's supporters looking to channel two years of momentum and common cause against President Donald Trump into progressive policies.
“I’ve heard a couple of people hit me up and told me, 'She saved my life,' and she’s not here, so that’s a good thing. She’s not here, and she’s still saving lives," Alviles noted.
If anyone's a victim of domestic violence, call the Springfield Police Department at (413) 787-6325.