These days, Johanna Orozco, 23, frequently opens up about her ordeal as a victim of teen dating violence. She is a teen educator at the Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center in Cleveland, Ohio who regularly speaks to teens in her area and anywhere else she is provided an opportunity to tell her amazing story of survival and inspire others. Johanna has appeared on Oprah, ABC’s 20/20, and recently appeared with Vice President Joe Biden on The View.
Johanna is happy with her work and her life. However, her journey to reach this point was a long, and unexpected, one. On March 5, 2007, Johanna’s life changed in an instant when her former boyfriend, 17 year-old Juan Ruiz, shot her in the face at close range with a sawed-off shotgun in her grandmother’s driveway. She spent the next six weeks in a hospital where surgeons saved what they could of her jaw and rebuilt the rest out of a piece of bone from her leg.
Despite her ordeal, Johanna was able to finish her high school work and graduate with her class. She endured the court process that ended with her ex-boyfriend receiving a 27 year prison sentence with no chance of parole. She also pushed, successfully, for changes to Ohio’s protection order laws that would allow teens to be able to get protection orders without parental consent, an option that she was denied when she was enduring abuse.
Johanna, a student at Columbia Southern University, plans to continue speaking to teens about dating violence and has a program she presents in school classrooms, school assemblies, and other events.