9OYS Crime Watch
"How could you watch someone harm your babies?"; The psychology behind a mother's silence
An 18 month-old baby, hospitalized Thursday with critical injuries, is dead. Police suspect the father had been abusing the child for a while, adding the mother knew about the abuse and didn't report it. Video by kgun9.com
Reporter: Maggie Vespa
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - We have a sad update to a story we first brought you Thursday night.
An 18 month-old baby, hospitalized with critical injuries due to abuse, is dead.
Police say she succumbed to her injuries Friday morning, as her twin sister recovers in CPS care.
The girls' parents Kristepher Benavidez and Monique Gaxiola are both behind bars. Each is now charged with one count of first degree murder.
Police say their twins were seriously injured both physically and internally, adding they suspect the father had been abusing the twins for a while.
The mother was arrested because police say she knew about the abuse and didn't report it.
Since 9OYS first broke this story Thursday, the response from you, our viewers, has largely been centered around one, main question: how on earth, could a mother stand by, while her children are being brutally beaten and abused and simply do nothing.
"The injuries to the child were physically obvious. She did nothing to stop it. She did not report it."
For a mom of three young children, it's an unimaginable response, say many of you.
On our KGUN9 facbook page, Angelina Weeks writes, "As a mom how could you just stand there and watch someone harm your babies?"
On our website, Susy Cutuli asks, "Why have children if you're not willing to protect them?"
Experts say only one woman knows those answers.
"Without knowing that family's very specific situation, which nobody will other than that family, there is no way to know exactly what's going on," said Anna Stevens-DeNae.
She is the operations manager at EMERGE, a local group dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence.
She says, make no mistake. There is no excuse for keeping quiet about child abuse, but she adds one important point.
"It's usually not just one person in that household being abused," she said.
That abuse, physical or emotional, often includes extra elements of control.
"This can be because somebody is absolutely not allowed to work," she said "They're not allowed to have control of finances."
Stevens-DeNae says fear rebelling against that control can be paralyzing, making moms believe staying put is the safest option.
"We believe that it is the number one reason that people typically don't come in to shelter. Fear of leaving, and 'What's going to happen to them if the abuser finds out?'" she said.
In the end she says Monique Gaxiola's mindset is one few can comprehend, which is why a victim's best bet is to reach for outside help.
"Seek out a support system, whether it's their family or friends and work with their family and friends to be able to get them out of the situation and end up wherever they need to be in terms of their safety," said Stevens-DeNae.
To be clear, police say there are no obvious signs that the mother in this case Gaxiola was physically abused.
Both she and the father Kristepher Benavidez are charged with one count of first degree murder, in connection with the alleged abuse of their 18 month-old daughter.
If you or someone you know is being abused, EMERGE has a 24/7 bilingual hotline. That number is 888-428-0101. You can also access their website, by clicking here
To contact Tucson's Gospel Rescue Mission, call 740-1501. You can access their website by clicking here
You call dial 9-1-1 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.