In August 2019, a visitor at baker Justina Rucinski’s home didn’t seem out of the ordinary. But that person didn’t turn out to be who she thought he was, leading to a horrifying encounter that changed her life forever. The ninth episode of Lifetime’s ‘#TextMeWhenYouGetHome’ delves into how Justina was sexually assaulted at home by someone claiming to be a customer and how she dealt with the ordeal. So, let’s find out more about her then, shall we?
Who is Justina Rucinski?
Justina Rucinski was part of a large family, but her childhood was rough. Her father was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and they lived off food stamps, with the police constantly coming by the household. Not just that, once in school, Justina was relentlessly bullied, and over time, baking with her mother was one of the few things she enjoyed. Eventually, Justina had a daughter and a son, and after a string of retail jobs and a stretch where she was homeless, she started her own home baking business.
At the time, Justina was living and working out of her home in Burlington, Iowa, and on August 13, 2019, she received an email from a woman inquiring about cookies. She was supposed to visit Justina at around 7 pm but never showed. However, a couple of hours later, a man knocked on her door claiming to be the husband of the woman who had contacted her earlier. He wanted to pay her and get a receipt.
Justina invited him in, and the man claimed to work at a food bank and added that he was a masseuse. According to Justina, the man, later identified as Steven Mauck, noted that she was tense, cracked her neck, and later her back while she was lying down on the floor. However, he suddenly covered her mouth and pointed a gun at her head. Justina stated that Steven asked her to obey him or he would shoot. He then tied her up with zip ties and shoved a paper towel in her mouth.
Steven later took Justina to the bedroom, where he touched himself and raped her. She said, “I tried to block what was happening. I stared at the ceiling, and I thought about my babies when that man was touching me and on top of me, hurting me over and over and over. I just didn’t know what to do. I knew I couldn’t scream. I knew I couldn’t do anything because he could kill me.”
Steven then forced Justina to take a shower and get dressed, making her drive to an ATM. He asked her to withdraw $40. After that, Steven asked Justina to drop him off close to where he lived. She drove straight to her friend’s house, eventually going to the authorities. It later came to light that Steven lied about his profession and had a history of violence against women. Furthermore, Justina’s mother and Steven’s wife were friends.
Where is Justina Rucinski Today?
Justina has been vocal about her experience and has not shied away from sharing what happened to her. Regarding other survivors, she said, “I want them to know, what happened to you, it does not reflect on you, and you shouldn’t feel ashamed.” Justina was active on social media, posting updates regarding the case and Steven’s eventual trial. However, the road has not been without its bumps. Justina has had days when she couldn’t feel pride in herself. She has had to deal with depression, insomnia, and anxiety but talked about therapy being helpful.
In the aftermath of the attack, Justina campaigned for a change in the law that required unlicensed home bakers to only sell their products from home or at farmer’s markets. In addition, they had to label all products with their address. Her campaigning led to a change in such laws in several states. Today, Justina lives in San Antonio, Texas, with her son and daughter, who were 4 and 6 years of age at the time of the incident.
Justina continues to be a baker, keeping herself busy by running SweetEms, which is now a wildly successful enterprise. Justina not only bakes cookies and cakes, but she also teaches online classes on various baking techniques for people with varying skill levels. Apart from that, SweetEms now sells merchandise, and Justina has hopes of expanding across the country in addition to teaching more.
Read More: Where is Steven Mauck Now?