Maria Escamilla, a victim of domestic abuse, has been awarded a $40 million judgment against an ex-boyfriend who stabbed her and raped her before leaving her for dead. It's the biggest payout ever awarded a domestic violence victim from attacker, but Escamilla knows that she will most likely never see a dime from her ex Jose Arreola.
Still, Escamilla says that simply being awarded the sum means much more to her than the actual money itself. "To me, it means that man who tried to kill me and mutilated me and tortured me for five hours deemed me worthless," she told The Dallas Morning News. "But the jury disagreed. My life is not worthless."
Arreola attacked Escamilla with a lamp, and a knife, stabbing her multiple times in the face, breasts, and genitals. She was also sodomized and raped during the assault. Her injuries left her needing a horrific 500 stitches, and she had to get facial surgery to insert permanent plates. She still requires plastic surgery to repair some of the lasting damage.
Understandably, she still carries emotional and physical scars from the 2011 attack. Unsurprisingly, Escamilla also suffers from PTSD from the attack, and has also lost full use of her right hand, and only has partial sight in her left eye.
Arreola was able to avoid life in prison, but was sentenced for 28 years following his 2013 trial. His lawyer, Michael Todd claimed that the victim brought the civil case because they "wanted a do-over from the criminal trial." Escamilla's legal team insisted that the civil suit was never about being rewarded money.
"People don't give a $40 million dollar verdict everyday," attorney, Michael Pezzulli told CBS. "I think this jury understood they had an opportunity to make a statement that could be heard throughout the country."
Escamillia is realistic about the payout, "I have no illusions of every seeing a penny," she said. But she added that the real payment comes from somewhere else. "If this stops one perpetrator from hurting one victim, it was worth it for me." Escamilla is now an inspirational speaker about domestic violence and sexual abuse, and travels to world to share her story.
Domestic violence continues to impact communities in incredibly negative ways. Watch this BET video to remember what's at stake:
(Photo: The Dallas Morning News)