Columbus mother finds strength to talk about infant's death

Columbus mother finds strength to talk about infant's death

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - It's taken a emotional Columbus mother a year and a half to find the courage to talk about the abuse and tragic death of her then 23-month-old daughter.

The mother's ex-boyfriend was accused of abusing the child.

"If I would have, things would have been different" says Jaquavia Bassett, who also claims the same man violently abused her.

Abuse is something this mother says she's experienced since she was young. Jaquavia Bassett contacted News Leader 9 to tell her side of the story.

She knows she can't change the past and bring her daughter back, but she hopes her story can help other domestic violence victims before it's too late.

After more than a year, Bassett is still trying to get her life back on the right track.

"I don't want anyone to feel they way that I feel. Nobody should have to go through that. Losing a child. That was the only thing that I loved and cared about was my child," said Bassett.

Her only child, Ki'Ja Bassett died March 24, 2014. Her boyfriend at the time, Damian Belle, is charged with the murder of the child and cruelty to children.

Bassett says she was away working in Atlanta when she got the call that her daughter was rushed to the hospital. Bassett recalled talking to Ki'Ja by phone daily.

"Nobody knew I wasn't home. Everybody thought I was home," said Bassett.

Bassett says Belle was violent and abusive towards her, and they only dated three months before her child died.

"Everybody thought I was taking his side. Because when he got locked up behind it, yeah I was going up there to see him. But every time I went it was the same question, 'Are you hiding anything?' He gave me a story about my daughter falling in the bathtub that's how she got in the hospital. That's the story he gave me and he stuck to it. I got the autopsy report and it clearly says she was beaten, but I'm just finding that out," said Bassett.

The 23-month-old was on life support before she passed away. After her daughter's death, Bassett received hate mail and negative attention from news coverage of the case. She claims her name was slandered and she now feels brave enough to speak up.

"People are so mean and hateful. No one cared about how I felt or checked on me to see if I was okay, No one came to me to see if I knew what happened," said Bassett.

Bassett left Columbus for Virginia in January to start college. She wrote an essay as way to heal from the past.

"It's called 'A Mother's Loss and Standing Up to Abuse and Stopping the Violence,'" said Bassett.

After returning to the Fountain City in June, she wants to help other victims of abuse get the help they need.

"That's all I ever known was abuse," said Bassett.

All Bassett has now is memories and pictures of her daughter.

"She was really smart for age and I still feel her presence. I was really blessed with an angel. I will always have an angel beside me," said Bassett.

Ki'Ja Bassett was baptized the day before she died at Egleston Hospital in Atlanta.

Bassett says Belle never showed violent signs towards her daughter, and it was only directed towards her.

Belle pled not guilty to the murder at the time.

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