Italian beauty queen Gessica Notaro, who allegedly had acid thrown in her face by an ex-boyfriend, has shown the after effects of the incident for the first time on television. The 28-year-old Miss Italy 2007 finalist appeared on the Maurizio Costanzo Show on the Canale 5 station.
Initially covering her face with a scarf, she was told by the host she could keep it on if she preferred. The model decided to remove it, however, telling viewers: “I want you to see what he did to me. This isn’t love.”
After she was allegedly ambushed by boyfriend Jorge Edson Tavares who works as a bodyguard, the aquarium worker spent two months in hospital in Cesena where she was treated for her horrific injuries.
Speaking about her ordeal, she said: “While the acid ate away at my face I was on my knees praying. I prayed to God: take away my beauty but at least leave me with my sight.”
The aspiring singer met Tavares, who is from Cape Verde, three years ago when they both worked at a dolphin aquarium in her home city of Rimini, on the northern Adriatic Coast of the country. While she was ‘imprisoned’ in a hospital room, she could only speak to visitors through a glass window and her mother had to be sterilized before entering the room.
Now, she has to wait for a year before she can undertake corrective surgery, spending $750 a month on medication, eye drops, and lotions to subdue her pain in the meantime. Meanwhile, her ex-boyfriend who denies the attack is in prison awaiting trial.
On her return from hospital last week, Gessica told MailOnline: “I did my own two months of prison. I can’t live life as I used to. I can’t go out in the sun, am constantly trapped in this mask and my face hurts all the time.”
Gessica and Tavares met three years ago when they both worked at a dolphin aquarium in her hometown Rimini
Gessica spent two months in an isolated hospital room where she spoke to visitors through a glass window
Her mother, who had to be sterilized before entering, was the only one allowed in the room
The aspiring singer and model has to wait for a year before she is well enough for a plastic surgery
She shared her story with the public in the Maurizio Costanzo Show on Italian television
The 28-year-old explained how she has to spend all her money on medication – including eye drops that are applied every half hour and constantly moisturizing her skin
Host Maurizio Costanzo said she could leave the scarf on but she decided to remove it to show people the extent of her injuries
Gessica, pictured at an aquarium where she worked, alleges that her ex-boyfriend, bodyguard Jorge Tavares, poured a corrosive liquid onto her face in January
The Maurizio Costanzo Show is currently the longest-running talk show in Italy
“I have to spend all my money on medication – every half hour I need eye drops and I have to moisturize my skin constantly. I cannot do my job because I can’t go in the water,” Gessica says.
“Even when I’m better, I will have scars on the inside for the rest of my life. I will always be scared to get out of my car and walk home because I will relive that scene again and again.”
But, despite her life being seriously altered by the injuries, the courageous model and musician who has just finished recording an album, remains optimistic because she can still sing.
“My face is ruined but my facial features are still there. My mouth is intact. So is my nose. I still recognize myself in the mirror. This eye should have been blind but it isn’t. And the most important thing I found out that night is that my voice is still there. I risked losing it as the acid ended up in my mouth, but I was alert enough to spit it out.”
Gessica says that even when she is better, she will have ‘scars on the inside’
Despite what Tavares is alleged to have done, Gessica still claims he was a model boyfriend. It was only after they broke up last August, she claims, that he became jealous and started stalking her.’As soon as I broke up with him he freaked,’ she said. ‘He immediately got jealous. He knew my work schedule and tracked my movements. If I was two minutes late from work, he would message me: ‘What are you going? Why are you still in there? Who are you with?’
Gessica Notaro was a finalist in the Miss Italy beauty contest back in 2007
She is now trying to launch a music career and has recently finished recording an album
Gessica currently spends around $750 a month on medication, eye drops and lotions in order to subdue her pain
Despite being accused of the horrific attack, Gessica insists Tavares was the perfect partner before they broke up
After she moved in with another lover, she claims Tavares continued to threaten her. Fearing for her safety, she remained officially single as she didn’t want to endanger any potential partner.
“I wanted to meet someone and get on with my life, but I couldn’t go out with anyone out of fear,” she explained.
“He followed me everywhere I went, threatened me and never left me alone. He even staged a fake suicide, trying to appeal to my sensitivity. He came to my house with a rope and pretended to hang himself from the gate in my front yard.”
More frighteningly, Tavares allegedly threatened to throw acid on her.”I
“I worked at a dolphinarium where they use acids to clean filters,” she recalls. “So I asked the man who cleans the filters what should I do if he attacked me with acid. ‘Should I wash my face or not?’ He said: ‘If I were you I wouldn’t rinse it – there’s a kind of acid which makes holes in your skin if you pour water on it.’ I even told my colleagues I was thinking of putting a helmet in my car for I was afraid to walk from the parking lot to my home.”
Eventually, Gessica went to the police, giving them evidence, including WhatsApp messages from Tavares in which he threatened to ‘ruin’ her life after which Tavares was given a harassment order.
But on the 10th of January, after a rare night out with friends, Gessica believes Tavares struck.
“I was already a bit tense because my mother had called to tell me he had rung and needed to speak to me urgently,” said Gessica, who had blocked Tavares from contacting her. “I expected to confront him but I didn’t expect him to do what he did.”
“I think he was hidden behind other cars – he must have crawled on the floor and crept behind mine. As soon as I put my head out of the window I saw him come towards me from the back of the car and throwing the acid at me. I actually felt the plastic of the bottle on my face. He lifted his arm to make sure he emptied the bottle completely and didn’t leave one drop. My face was burning and I instantly started losing my sight,” the singer recalls the horrid experience.
“I felt desperate because I knew that the more time passed, the more the acid would corrode my face. I had to find the fastest way to get to the hospital for help.”
The acid attack happened on the 10th of January after Gessica was returning home from a night out with friends
She had blocked Tavares from contacting her, but the Cape Verdean rung her mother and told her he had to speak to Gessica immediately
The former model claims he saw her ex as she approached her car before she felt acid being spilled over her
Gessica says she was immediately aware of the effects the attack was going to have on her appearance. “The night the attack happened, I prayed and said: ‘Take away my beauty or whatever needs to be taken away, but please let me keep my eyes,” she recalled.
“I was very quick wanting to look in the mirror. At first, they showed me photographs but I decided I want to look in the mirror. In the beginning, my face was dark and burned – one side was dark brown, the other side green. I was a bit shocked but then I decided to focus on my eyes – they say the eyes are the mirror of the soul. I looked myself in the eye and recognized myself. I said: ‘OK. It’s still me.'”
Despite everything she’s been through, the 28-year-old insists she does not want revenge. “The only thing I would really like is for him to see me and see what he has done,” she says.