Jessica Buttafuoco speaks publicly for the first time

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When the incident occurred, Mary Jo's daughter, Jessica, was just your typical 9-year-old in school. On the day her mom was nearly killed, Jessica was pulled out of her third grade class and told that her mother had fallen on a nail. Jessica was eventually told the truth, but she says it took time before she fully understood the seriousness of the situation.

"It was still all fun and games to me," Jessica says. Amid the media frenzy, she says, "I was doing cartwheels on the front lawn, and reporters would be like, 'Excuse me, honey, we're trying to film a live segment here. Can you not do that?' And I'm like, 'Excuse me, Mr. Reporter. I'm trying to play on my front lawn. You can move!'"

Jessica says the family tragedy had a lasting impact. "Of course, like everything, it has its goods and its bads," she says. "And the negative...I feel like I was robbed of a childhood. ... My parents did a very good job of keeping me out of things. I still did dance, basketball, all that kind of stuff. It was definitely emotionally draining. And I think it was even harder for me when I got older and was capable of thinking from someone else's point of view."

As for her notorious last name, Jessica says the jokes only made her stronger. "As much as that was bad and hard, I kind of took it and reversed it," Jessica explains. "Rather than hiding and being scared of who I was and being ashamed of what I was, it gave me the drive to succeed."