Defiant acid attack victim back at work
A former Italian beauty queen who accuses a jealous ex-boyfriend of disfiguring her in an acid attack is returning to her job as a sea lion trainer, to inspire other women to fight back against stalkers.
Gessica Notaro, 28, whose face is badly scarred and who wears an eye patch, posted a photo of herself posing with sea lions at an aquarium in Rimini this week with the message: ‘‘My strength? Here it is.’’
The former Miss Italy finalist was doused in hydrochloric acid in January by a man she identified as Jorge Edson Tavares, originally from the Cape Verde islands, who had been stalking her since she ended their two-year relationship.
Notaro had complained about the stalking, only for a judge to overrule an order by a magistrate to arrest Tavares.
Other Italian women have been injured or killed by former partners after their reports to police were ignored.
Appearing on Italian TV in April, Notaro removed a veil covering her injuries, saying: ‘‘I want you to see what he did. This is not love.
‘‘I will be back to who I was, even if I cannot see the sun for years without masks and bandages,’’ she added. ‘‘I won’t be able to swim with my beloved dolphins because the chlorine would be devastating.
‘‘I don’t forgive Eddy, and I never will, but I don’t hate him.’’
Notaro will present night shows at the aquarium during the northern summer.
At a hearing in April during Tavares’ trial, which resumes next month, Notaro stared at him across the courtroom, removing her eye patch at one point to show him her injuries.
The court heard that Tavares was jealous of one of her colleagues, Allen Esposito Linares, believing him to be her lover.
Linares told the court that Tavares had threatened him with a sword. On the night of the acid attack, he dropped Notaro at her home in his car, waiting to see if Tavares was hanging around, as he had done in the past. Seeing noone, he left, just moments before the acid was thrown in her face.
Notaro wrote on Instagram this week that Linares had looked after her as she recovered from her operations, and that they were now romantically involved.
‘‘With real love, he has made it clear that despite all that has happened to me, I am still for him the most beautiful woman in the world,’’ she wrote.
Former Miss Italy finalist Gessica Notaro is returning to her job as a sea lion trainer at an aquarium in Rimini.