Battle Against Domestic Abuse

Jose Peralta

October 14, 2010

Times News Weekly

by Ralph Mancini

July 8, 2010

A 25-year-old victim of physical abuse was on hand at a Thursday, July 1 rally at Corona Plaza to urge battered women to come out from the shadows about their plight.

Crusita “Mary” Martinez, who was invited by City Council Member Julissa Ferreras at her public event, shared what dangers lie ahead for women in abusive relationships.

Martinez described how an enraged ex-boyfriend used five different types of corrosive materials and urine to torture her eight years ago in her native Dominican Republic.

The victim had a hole burned through her chest and was only minutes away from death.

Friends and family members who tried to carry her to safety were burned by merely touching Martinez, who now resides in Boston, Mass., but frequently visits family in the Corona area. 

In addition to being forced to overcome the physical and emotional distress she suffered after experiencing the attack, she also had to come to terms with being rejected by her infant son, who was frightened by his mother’s appearance after a recovery period of nine months.

“Do not even allow a man to speak to you in the wrong way,” she told the crowd in Spanish. “That is nothing you should have to endure. We bear men and bring them into this world. We should be respected by them.”

Ferreras translated her thoughts, adding: “She’s happy that this incident serves as an example. She stands here with these wounds that really mean nothing because it’s inside what counts. There’s no room for shame. When one room shuts, three windows open.”

Martinez’s experience is being turned into a movie called The Face of a Woman by director Monica Gutierrez, who informed the Times Newsweekly that her endeavor is about 70 percent complete.

Attorney Alexandra Patino of the New York City Family Justice Center portrayed domestic violence as much more than a bruise on an arm or a broken bone. She described the crime as a pattern of conduct intended to control an individual through verbal insults and isolating the victim from the outside world. 

Patino was joined by representatives of community and advocacy groups at the outdoor engagement that exhorted abused women to privately approach them with their issues, including Safe Horizon, Sanctuary for Families, the Violence Intervention Project, Connect NYC and the Jewish Board of Family/Children’s Services.

Several elected officials also attended the rally, including City Comptroller John Liu, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, State Sen. Jose Peralta and City Council Member Daniel Dromm.

Peralta promised that he would soon introduce legislation against domestic violence and further assured his constituents that he would push for a task force designed to decrease the 400,000 citywide cases of abuse that are reported on an annual basis.

The 38-year-old senator, who is of Dominican descent, called for male Latinos to treat all women with a greater amount of respect. He demanded that they check their “machismo” at the door.

“We don’t rule the house; women play a vital role in the home. Without women, men are nothing. There should be zero tolerance for domestic violence,” he observed.

As a part of her efforts to make the public better aware of domestic violence, Ferreras, who also heads the Women’s Issues Committee, brought out City Council members and their staffers to take a pledge against all forms of female abuse on the steps of City Hall.