The background of this story and mission can be better understood by watching these news reports and listening carefully to how the issues are addressed, including whether or not justice is available to those in need.
Atlanta News Coverage
To watch the WSB-TV video of this story, click here.
By: Matt Johnson, WSB-TV
Updated: July 5, 2016 – 8:52 AM
ATLANTA — An Atlanta man is facing several charges after police say he tied up his wife inside their home and tortured her for days in front of their 2-week-old baby.
Aaron Uchitel is charged with aggravated battery, false imprisonment and cruelty to children. Police say he brutally assaulted and tortured his wife, 23-year-old Prosper Ortega, for two days inside their Atlanta home, until her mother managed to rescue her. “(I thought) she was gonna die,” Fawn Ortega said. “Everything was just so swollen and her little mouth.” Fawn Ortega broke down as she talked about her daughter’s horrific injuries. Doctors say Prosper may never see again. She remains at Grady Memorial Hospital, still bruised and unable to see, just days after her mother rescued her. “It was an evil person in there and he was going to kill her,’ Fawn Ortega said. Prosper and Uchitel got married less than a year ago and had their child, Ari, on June 17.
Fawn Ortega says she noticed Uchitel had been isolating Prosper from her so she went to their southwest Atlanta home Wednesday to check on them. But she says he wouldn’t let her inside. “I started to fight him. I was pushing him off and stuff,” she said.
She fought her way into the house, saw her daughter’s face and learned what happened.
“He was jabbing at her eyes, jabbing at her eyes so she couldn’t see the baby, and he cut her hair off and said, ‘I’m going to make it so where nobody will ever want you again,’” Ortega said. Prosper told police that Uchitel had drugged her, beat her and sexually assaulted her for two days.
At one point, police say, Prosper attempted to flee through a bedroom window, but Uchitel pulled her back into the home. Police say Uchitel, who is now in jail, confessed to hitting her “a couple of times.”
Prosper’s family says she has a long recovery ahead of her but they want the public to know what domestic violence can look like. They say they are sharing her story in hopes of preventing another domestic violence case.
“We are just at a place where it needs to stop,” Fawn Ortega said.
She is now looking after her daughter’s little boy.
Prosper’s family says she will require extensive medical procedures plus months of both physical and mental therapy to being rebuilding her life.
The stories above and below prove that what Prosper and her son Ari needed was people who could be trusted to give proper care and to do so honestly. Victims of domestic violence should not be led to believe based on this story that if you ask for help following such brutal attacks that you will be at risk of losing your child – a child you fought to save.
Without intervention and support, the harsh reality for mother and child, both survivors, is that being abused like Prosper was by her former husband leaves the survivor open and vulnerable to further abuse and exploitation.
Navigating Justice is advocating to stop this abuse and see mother and child restored completely, while creating awareness that helps prevent this form of loss from being repeated.
This next report by 11Alive provides even more perspective about what it was like for this mother to fight back and to be able to move forward with her life. Note that this video of mother and baby being reunited has no sound. To hear more of the story, scroll down to the next video.
https://www.11alive.com/article/news/local/woman-tortured-for-days-turns-her-pain-into-hope/85-318859465 Please read Prosper’s story on 11Alive’s website or below.
A woman police say was tortured for days by her husband has openly shared photos of her injuries. Prosper Uchitel agreed to talk with 11Alive about those pictures so that her story — and a new charity she is trying to create — will offer others hope. She said to those on the outside, she and her husband Aaron Uchitel, looked like a young couple in love. A new marriage. A new baby. A new life. Prosper never imagined days after their son was born, she would be hours away from death. Pictures released by her family in June as she recovered at Grady Memorial Hospital showed swollen eyes and burns around her ears. At the time her mother, Fawn Ortega, told 11Alive her daughter had been stabbed, beaten and drugged for four days before she busted her way inside and called 911.
Uchitel was arrested and charged with aggravated battery, false imprisonment and rape. Two months later, he remains in jail. Seven months before these charges, court records show he was arrested for simple battery. Prosper says a judge ordered him to anger management classes.Prosper says she thought about leaving, and almost did, but with a new baby on the way she wanted to find a way to make it work. “He would bring me down and then pick me up, bring me down and then pick me up until I was just down,” she said. Prosper says she tried to talk with family and friends about the problems in their relationship that seemed abusive to her, but no one seemed to understand. “I eventually made myself believe that I needed to just buckle down a little harder and maybe it was something wrong that I was doing.” Prosper says since her rescue, she has received nothing but love. Counters and table tops are filled with cards offering encouraging words. She has also received letters from domestic violence survivors and even women debating whether to leave their own abusive relationships. To them, Prosper has one message. “Seek help. Seek help.” Prosper shares her story hoping other women or men who feel isolated or unsure, will reach outside their social circle and talk with professionals able to recognize the signs of domestic violence and provide a path to safety. When you call the Domestic Violence Hotline, the first question you hear is, “Are you safe?”
But Prosper knows those that decide to leave an abusive relationship will soon find themselves facing another question, “What now?” That’s why she’s starting a charity to provide clothes, baby and household supplies to those who need an extra hand rebuilding their lives. The idea stemmed from a pop up shop several women in the community created for her. They named it, “Prosperity”. Inside several storage sheds were donations of baby toys and clothes that could help her start a new life. She says the generosity was so overwhelming, she wanted to take the items she couldn’t use and pay it forward. The scope of her charity has grown from there. Prosper says right now she has created a GoFundMe page to raise the money needed to register the charity as a 501c3 and find space to set up her “shop”.
But as Prosper looks forward, the court case pulls her back. “Sometimes I’ll wake up and still – I have to look in the mirror to see if I’m okay. Or I’ll have a dream about him and I’ll wake up crying because he’s not there… in the way that I want him to be there for me.” There’s no date yet for the trial, but she has been called several times to testify on the original charges against her husband. The hearing keeps getting postponed. She has yet to see Aaron Uchitel since his arrest. She’s not sure how she will react when she does. “I had a dream that I passed out when I walking up to the stand. I could be talking to you like I’m talking now or I could break down. I don’t know what will happen.” But she does know the fear and confusion that kept her inside the couple’s Atlanta home has been replaced with strength to fight back.
If you need help there are several hotlines you can call:
Domestic Violence Hotline 404-873-1766
Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence 1-800-334-2836
The video above can also be watched here, the story including statements by the Women’s Resource Center to End Domestic Violence to help us learn the warning signs that could lead to physical and mental injury.
11Alive‘s Rebecca Lindstrom followed Prosper’s story, and she interviewed this young mother when Prosper believed she was on the road to recovery. Watch here. Next, let’s talk about what is needed for the next phase of recovery for mother and son. Warning: photos and content are graphic and not meant for viewing by children.
The rest of the story is that during Prosper’s recovery, she fell victim to another form of domestic violence, including being isolated and controlled – this time not by her husband who was incarcerated, but by people who seemed to be a part of her recovery team. Prosper had a child and financial resources that were there for the taking. To learn more, click here.