A 22-year-old student at the University of Florida, Melissa Gentz, suffered domestic abuse at the hands of her boyfriend, 25-year-old Brazilian socialite Erick Bretz, on September 23 at his Tampa apartment, according to NY Daily News.
A few days later, she took to her Instagram account to share a selfie, showing the horrific bruising on her face. Aside from the obvious bruising around one eye and up into her forehead, both her eyes have also suffered damage in the form of burst blood vessels.
In the caption of the image, Gentz explained – in both Portuguese and English – why she was sharing the image instead of hiding away as she healed from the terrible injuries.
“You know how we usually have a side of our face that we prefer more than the other? I like my left side. Unfortunately, it’s the side that was severely bruised by violence. Today was the first day in which I felt like passing some mascara and blush on the right side of my face… I won’t hide the marks of my story because NO woman should feel ashamed of (sic) feel blamed for being a victim of domestic violence.”
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Sabe como temos um lado do nosso rosto que geralmente gostamos mais? Eu gosto do meu lado esquerdo, infelizmente o lado que foi mais marcado pela violência. Hoje foi o primeiro dia que resolvi passar rímel e blush no lado direito do meu rosto. Não vou esconder as marcas da minha história porque NENHUMA mulher precisa ter vergonha ou se sentir culpada por ter sido violentada. ???????????? You know how we usually have a side of our face that we prefer more than the other? I like my left side. Unfortunately, it’s the side that was severely bruised by violence. Today was the first day in which I felt like passing some mascara and blush on the right side of my face... I won’t hide the marks of my story because NO woman should feel ashamed of feel blamed for being a victim of domestic violence.
She shared another two images a couple days later with the caption “Life moves on and we’re all strong enough to put ourselves first.”
The images went viral in her native Brazil, per the Tampa Bay Times. One article written by a local newspaper has been shared over 1 million times on Facebook, and local celebrities have been sharing her story far and wide across their social media platforms.
“Courageous. Doing what you have done is important and necessary,” Brazilian soap star Joao Vicente de Castro wrote while sharing Gentz’s post. “I’m proud of people like you. We are with you.”
Gentz immediately reported the abuse to police, and Bretz was arrested. He was “booked into the Hillsborough County Jail on charges of domestic battery by strangulation and tampering with a witness,” per the police records. A few days later he was released after $60,000 in bail was posted for him. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
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Emocionada com a letra da música que @david_holdt escreveu para mim ????????????✨???? I’m more than grateful for the beautiful song that @david_holdt wrote for me. You can listen to it on his page. Thank you for the flowers @malugomes7 ???????? Life moves on and we’re all strong enough to put ourselves first. Flor dourada não chore mais O pior já ficou pra traz Eu sei que ainda doi demais Orando pedindo paz As pétalas que caíram ao chão Deixaram marcas no seu coração Que se transformaram em uma missão Libertar mais flores da mesma prisão Quantas flores tem nessa prisão Deu acabou, o sol se levantou A chuva ja passou Eu já sei quem eu sou Deu, já passou, eu sei o meu valor Agora eu vejo a cor Dessa Livre flor
Bretz’s father is the owner of one of the latest chains of grocery stores in the South American country, and the 25-year-old is well-known on the local Motocross Championship circuit for the past 10 years already. He and Gentz had been dating for only three months by the time the attack happened.
According to Gentz, he had mixed alcohol with his insomnia medication, causing him to become increasingly argumentative and jealous. During the attack, he kicked her in the face, tried to strangle her with his legs, punched her in the face, struck her with a bottle, and pulled out chunks of her hair.