Trigger warning: This article contains descriptions of sexual assault
Kimberly Tejada’s life changed radically after an attack at the hands of the person she considered the love of her life on the morning of July 19, 2019.
She says her boyfriend, Brian Cruz, began striking her with a hammer while she slept in the home they shared in Glendale, Los Angeles.
Watch the latest news and stream for free on 7plus >>
“My mum said she heard screaming, like if someone was trying to kill me,” Tejada recounts.
“Her room was just next to ours, she went into the room and saw what was happening.”
Her mother said she witnessed Cruz attacking Tejada. She stepped in, trying to defend her, but ended up with a head wound. He then fled, leaving the weapon behind.
Tejada survived the attack with severe injuries to her head, including a fractured skull and facial bones. The young woman, who was 24 at the time of the attack, admits that she remembers little of that fateful day.
Man found guilty of murdering 16-year-old sister
‘Doing the right thing’: Man’s kind act before shocking triple-fatal crash
“As it was explained to me, I covered my face with my hands in order to protect myself,” said Tejada, who also suffered the fracturing of eight of her fingers.
As she called 911, Tejada could no longer open her eyes or move. Despite struggling to breathe and stay awake, she made the effort to talk to the operator, giving them Cruz’s description and that of the car in which he fled.
“I still wonder, how I could have picked up the phone if all of my fingers were broken,” Tejada said.
“How could I talk if my jaw was broken?”
She never imagined her boyfriend, with whom she had been with since she was 13, could betray her in such a brutal way, especially since, according to her, he had never been violent.
“I thought he was the love of my life,” Tejada said.
Kimberly Tejada was the victim of a brutal hammer attack at the hands of her since-deceased fiancé. Credit: KVEA via NBC
Though police had speculated that Cruz had fled to Mexico, even offering a $US15,000 ($A22,163) reward for information leading to his arrest, he was found dead months after the attack after crashing his car in Angeles National Forest.
Authorities could not determine if the death was an accident or a suicide.
It is believed that Cruz attacked the young woman because she no longer wanted to get married and was planning on moving out of their home.
The pair had fought the night before the incident, Tejada said.
She sent a text message to her cousins.
“If something happens to me, it was Brian. I told them that if anything happened to me, I wanted them to know it was him,” she said.
Tejada recalls the long and difficult four years she faced after the attack, with doctors having to reconstruct her face.
“It was like a jigsaw puzzle, putting all the pieces where they go, most of my face is 90 per cent metal.”
If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondblue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.
Advice and counselling for men concerned about their use of family violence: Men’s Referral Service, 1300 766 491
Woman details chilling alleged sexual assault by ride-share driver
Former-NRL star learns outcome of appeal over domestic violence convictions
If you’d like to view this content, please adjust your Cookie Settings.