The mother of two who was the victim of two abusive relationships and then chose to marry a man who served 20 years for his divorce.
Stephanie Garcia from Santa Rosa Texas was a parole case manger and fell in love just one month after Gerardo castaneda was freed from prison. Castaneda had already served 20 years of his sentence for murdering his first wife, in 1996.
The couple were married just seven months after meeting but Castaneda left Garcia a year later, leaving her feeling ‘preyed upon’ and ‘manipulated’.
She has been defending herself from abuse she received via social media after marrying a killer when she had already suffered violence at the hands two of her ex partners.
According to the 49-year old, her past experiences with domestic violence have made her ‘desensitized to abusive behavior’. She didn’t see him as an obstacle to her relationship. He showed remorse for his crimes.
Scroll down to see the video
Stephanie Garcia was originally from Santa Rosa Texas. She had been in abusive relationships and fell for Gerardo Castaneda, a convicted murderer.
Castaneda spent 20 years behind bars for the murder of his ex-wife. Garcia, 49, however, believes in second chances and married Castaneda within seven months. (The couple was pictured with their daughters Ashley and Seleste on their 2008 wedding day.
The 49-year old says that she got negative responses on social media from some of the men with whom she had relationships.
However, when her new husband walked out without giving any explanation just a year after the couple married, she says she realised that she had allowed the convict to ‘manipulate’ her by treating her so nicely.
This mother-of-2 feels her ex-husband took advantage of her past experience as a domestic abuse victim, and swept her off her feet with charming behavior that was starkly different to her previous treatment.
Garcia is a parole officer and wants to spread awareness of domestic abuse to make survivors more aware.
He was attentive to all my needs, and he had everything every woman wants. She explained how she fell in love with him.
“He spent 20 years in prison thinking about the way he would treat women when he was freed and he did so very well.
He did admit that he went to prison for his wife’s murder and that it was a very regrettable confession.
‘Since I was accustomed to be with a violent male – I can’t believe that I’m saying this. However, it did not seem bad at all the time.
Her confession is that she now thinks back to what it was like. He killed my wife and I was his bride. A woman of any other gender would not have done the same, but I was influenced by my own life experiences.
Castaneda divorced her after a year of marriage. Despite him treating her very well during her first months, Castaneda made her feel manipulated.
Despite the fact the mother-of-two says she feels ‘preyed upon’ when reflecting on her relationship, she doesn’t regret the marriage, saying: ‘I do believe that he paid his debt to society – he spent 20 years of his life in prison.’
There was no doubt: She stated that her ex-husband had a ‘gentle and remorseful” demeanor which meant she wasn’t in doubt about marrying him.
She claims that her ex partner ‘took advantage’ of her life experience, which is that she was in violent relationships and that he exploited that.
“These men spend a lot of time in prison, and I have learned that they can manipulate women.”
When I look back, I wonder: What the hell was I thinking? I got married to a man who killed his wife.
She says that she was happy to be single for eighteen years before meeting her husband.
Garcia worked at that time in a school for troubled teens and said one of her student mentioned that an immediate family member was being released.
She believes in second chances and offered to help the man with his return to society.
Although she didn’t intend to get romantically involved with him at all, the mother of two says that the convict swept her off her feet and the couple were married in July 2016.
According to the domestic violence victim, her experiences with violent men as well as the gentle and remorseful demeanor Gerardo displayed made it easy for her to consider marrying him.
Garcia assumed that the couple was happily married. However, Garcia said her husband had left just 12 months earlier. Garcia and Seleste were pictured together.
She explained: “We began dating quickly. Within weeks, he then told me about his crime.
“When he said that he had killed his wife, I felt a lot compassion because he was crying and making it seem like he wasn’t trying to kill her. I also believed him.
Castaneda appears to have been in a relationship and is expected to become a father to Castaneda’s child.
Garcia believed that Garcia’s ex-husband had “manipulated” her and this shock ended their marriage. She now doubts his love for Garcia throughout the marriage.
But she was inundated by abuse after posting her online experiences to increase awareness of domestic violence.
After sharing her story, Garcia was hit with criticism for marrying a man convicted of murdering a woman, with one writing: ‘No one who’s [taken]Someone’s life is worth a second chance.
She says that her critics don’t understand that she was ‘manipulated’ by her ex-partner, saying: ‘People judge me for getting involved with him but he manipulated me and people don’t understand that.’
Experience: She claims she won’t be able to date someone with a history against women that is so violent.
Some people were puzzled by the idea that Stephanie would have gotten into a relationship after going through her past experiences, but Stephanie believed Gerardo had paid his dues to society.
Commenter: “So, you’re an a…” [domestic violence]Victim yourself, but you decided to help and marry [a]Man who MURDERED his Wife.
One other said, “No one who isn’t” [taken]The second chance in someone’s life is worth it.
Stephanie stated, “It’s unfair for a survivor from domestic violence to have to be judged so harshly. Because I believe that my decision to become involved with a husband who had killed his wife came down to the fact I was in abusive relationships for so many years.
“I believe that he has paid his dues to society. He spent over 20 years in prison, which is absurd. But I’m a believer that everyone deserves a second chance.
“But, I also know that they know how to manipulate people – people criticize me for being involved with him but he manipulated me and people don’t get that.
“I can now see the difference now that I am more mature and older.”
Gerardo Castaneda did not respond to our requests for comment.
Visit this site for advice and support regarding domestic violence womensaid.org.uk