Mason City woman works to protect unborn victims of violence | Mason City & North Iowa


“Manure gives your life nourishment, and you can grow beautiful flowers from the crap”, Kaylee Ciavarelli laughed as she watched the youngest of her four children, Love LaVida Ciavarelli, playing on the floor.

Ciavarelli, a hairstylist who lives in Mason City, said she was seven months pregnant with Love, when she was physically abused by her then-spouse. She said the incident took place in front of her two-year-old child.

Kaylee Ciavarelli and Love

Kaylee Ciavarelli and her daughter, Love

Gretchen Burnette

Ciavarelli said she had a flashback to her 20s, when this type of abuse had happened before and she had stayed in the relationship. She told herself she would never go through that again, nor would she subject her family to it. 

This time, Ciavarelli left.

“I told my daughters Jaylen and DaLaila that day, ‘you’re gonna see me fall, you’re gonna see me crying, you’re gonna see me in bed, you’re gonna see me a hot mess,'” Ciavarelli said. “‘I’m gonna do this on my own. We’re gonna be self-sufficient, and I’m going to get up from this and be better off,’” Ciavarelli said. “I wanted to show them, you don’t have to stay.”

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When speaking to the police to press charges against her spouse, Ciavarelli said they were helpful in connecting her with resources like United Way of North Central Iowa and Crisis Intervention. 

However, when doctors were unable to detect her unborn daughter’s heartbeat for a few days following the assault, Ciavarelli said she found herself upset to learn that domestic abuse charges did not extend to protect a fetus.

A few months after Love was born, the baby was found to have a skull deformity. Tests are ongoing to determine whether the abnormality is genetic, or the result of the assault. 

Love's Law to Protect Unborn Victims of Violence

Love’s Law to Protect Unborn Victims of Violence logo

In the state of Iowa, there is no charge that applies to abuse of the unborn, unless physical injury is proven or loss of the pregnancy can be traced to the incident. “Not everyone is going to do all that work (to press charges),” Ciavarelli said. “A lot of people are scared of (their abusers); it’s a lot of trauma to relive and people just want to move on.” 

Ciavarelli wants to do more than just press charges against her abuser. She wants to change the law.

She is currently working to write Love’s Law, a bill which would add an additional criminal charge against someone who assaults a pregnant person, regardless of whether the assailant knows about the pregnancy, even if no injury comes to the unborn infant.

It all started with Kaylee Ciavarelli’s Grandma Dola.

Ciavarelli said she is applying for 501(c)3 status for her organization, Love’s Law to Protect Unborn Victims of Violence, which will sponsor Love’s Law upon achieving nonprofit status, as well as provide a resource to pregnant domestic abuse survivors. Another charitable project of Ciavarelli’s, “Dola Dolls: To Love Through Dementia”, which sends baby dolls to nursing homes for dementia patients, will be housed under the same nonprofit.

Dola Dolls

Kaylee Ciavarelli, founder of Dola Dolls to Love through Dementia, holds a doll to be donated.

Ciavarelli said she currently speaks at events for Crisis Intervention, at Agapé Christian Family Church, and to anybody else who may need to hear her story, and works to empower other women. 

In an effort to raise awareness and money for her organization, Ciavarelli is hosting a public fundraiser at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 15 at Mason City Brewing. She and her friend Angelina Perez, who works with United Way of North Central Iowa, will be available to chat with anyone who might have questions about becoming involved in the cause, or who might need assistance of their own.

Ciavarelli remembers the help she was given after her abuse.

“When things went down (the assault), people in the community put boxes of diapers on the porch, wipes…money in my mailbox,” she said. “People took care of us, and I don’t even know who most of them are.” 

Since then, Ciavarelli has spent a lot of time volunteering in the community and with church activities. “If you go out in the community and help, it comes back to you,” she said.

Eventually, she’d also like to start speaking at schools, encouraging young people to use their voices to make change.

“If you want to make change, you have to just do it,” is her motto, and she hopes to inspire others to take those words to heart.

Gretchen Burnette is a Weeklies Editor and Daily Reporter at the Globe Gazette.  You can reach her by phone at 641.421.0523 or at

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