#IAMVANESSAGUILLEN

Painting artist IG:@ryanlhtx made for Vanessa’s Protest in Houston.

She was a woman, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a U.S Army Soldier.

Vanessa Guillen was a well-respected person by everyone she knew. The statements that her family/friends have made of who she was as a person have touched the hearts of people all over the world, and even those who didn’t get to personally meet her can see that Vanessa was a glorified soul. From what I have seen, she was loved by so many people and truly made an impact on everyone she came across with. She was a twenty-year-old Army soldier with so many hopes and dreams that were taken away from her by her murderer, Aaron David Robinson.

On April 22, 2020, Guillen was called into work at the Fort Hood Army Base, that’s the last day she was seen and allegedly also the day she was murdered. According to her family and friends, Vanessa had been sexually assaulted at the Fort Hood base by another enlisted soldier, which was Aaron. Although there are many missing holes in this story, what is said to be that happened on April 22nd is terrifying. Family says that she was planning to eventually report the malicious and disgusting acts that her colleague Aaron did to her such as watching her shower in the locker-room. Vanessa was kind-hearted but she also seemed like someone willing to stand up for herself and I’m sure that installed fear in him. Allegedly, Aaron felt that his Army career was threatened if Vanessa got the chance to out him which is why he took the chance to stop her before she could. It is known that the same day she was called in, Aaron Robinson stuck Guillen with a hammer, and then proceeded to take her body out of the base in a wheeled plastic box. Unquestioned, he was able to then call his girlfriend Cecily Anne Aguilar to help him finish his act.

Months later on June 30, 2020 Cecily Anne admitted to them dismembering Guillen’s body, burning her remains and burying them near the Leon River in Bell County — — 25 miles east from Fort Hood Base. A couple days after that they returned the site and dug up her remains just to rebury them and cover them with cement.

After the remains were found, officers came across Robinson but as they approached him, he shot himself and left the heat to his girlfriend Aguilar. She could potentially be facing 20 years in federal prison and a quarter million fine for assisting Robinson in dismembering and hiding Guillen’s body.

Guillen’s family and friends searched for Guillen for months just to find out that the whole time, Aaron David Robinson and Cecily Ann Aguilar, had murdered her and buried her under cement.

Her death was tragic, but her story paved through news and social media’s and changed the world. The hashtag #JusticeforVanessaGuillen went global and caught the attention needed to begin fighting for her justice. Because of this hashtag, so many women came forward about their own sexual assault and harassment stories. It was shocking to see the amount of soldiers who have experienced sexual assault and the fear of reporting sexual assault. Most of the time it’s because it’s their own chain of command committing these assaults, meaning this is normalized in the Army, meaning that this is a systemic problem that must change.

Image from the Houston #IamVanessaGuillen Protest.

I had been following this story since I found out about it through the news and social media, finding out that she was also a Chavez High School graduate intrigued me to find out more. You always see these terrible stories happening away from you and of course it’s always unfortunate but when it hits so close to home like Vanessa’s story did, it changes you internally. This shows that It could really happen to anyone.

Thankfully Guillen has #TeamVanessa which is a group of her friends and family who have consistently fought for her justice through protesting, hashtags and vigils. They have raised immense awareness to her story and have raised funds to help the family. Murals of Vanessa Guillen have been painted all over the U.S, hashtags have consistently circulated the web, and they continue to have the conversation.

Thanks to this awareness the family even met with President Trump in hopes of passing the bill #IAMVANESSAGUILLENTHEBILL, which would essentially help victims by allowing them to report sexual assaults and harassments to a third party instead of their chain of command. This would take away the fear of being treated different for reporting and help them by making it easier for them to report.

Unfortunately, she is not here in flesh anymore, but her story will forever live in people’s heart and she will continue to make history. Her death will not be in vain, she deserves the justice and she deserves this bill.

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Betsy Acosta

UH Journalism student with a whole lot to say. Passionate about the things that matter to me. Follow me on my socials @betsyyacosta on all handles!