Ayyselet Gutierrez during an interview with EFE in Mexico City, Mexico, September 12, 2023. EFE/Mario Guzmán

Living without Fear: the challenge of a victim of attempted femicide in Mexico

Inés Amarelo

Mexico City, Sept 15 (EFE).- Twenty-nine-year-old Mexican Ayyselet Gutiérrez was the victim of an attempted femicide on September 18, 2022. That night, her former partner stabbed her 27 times, bringing her very close to death. Now she is finding the strength to ensure that her attacker is arrested so that she and her daughter can live without fear.

“A year ago I could have died and left my daughter alone (…) I am alive and because I am alive I have to remind other people that there is still an aggressor out there whose name is Julio César,” Ayyselet said in an interview with EFE.

On Monday, exactly one year after the attack, a protest will be held at 4 p.m. at the emblematic Angel of Independence in Mexico City, where Ayyselet will demand that her attacker be arrested and that justice be done.

An arrest warrant has already been issued, but Ayyselet believes her agressor is being hidden by his family.

On the night of the attack, she went back to her apartment with Julio César after going out with friends. Although they were no longer together as a couple, they tried to get along and be friends for the sake of their daughter, who was eight years old at the time.

They arrived at the house where her mother was watching the child and Ayyselet went to the bathroom. She would later learn that he used that time to look through her cell phone, and when her mother left for the night, Julio César entered the bathroom.

“I remember him coming in, opening the door and saying, ‘That’s enough, you whore, no one’s going to save you now. You’re finished,'” she says.

He then attacked her with a knife. He stabbed her a total of 27 times in the head, cheeks, under the eye, neck, chest, hands and arms, back and leg.

Ayyselet Gutierrez during an interview with EFE in Mexico City, Mexico, September 12, 2023.EFE/Mario Guzmán


One year later, Ayyselet suffers from multiple complications and permanent pain. She lost vision in one eye, mobility in one hand, had her tongue and part of her face reconstructed, and suffers from tingling and numbness in various parts of her body.

Her daughter witnessed the attack on the day it happened, and although she asked her father to stop, he did not.

During the attack, Ayyselet was laying on the floor of the bathroom, and when her daughter came in, she managed to tell her to call for help. The girl first hit Julio César with a broom and then ran to the backyard to call for help from the neighbors, who first took the girl to safety and then managed to get the attacker, who was covered in blood, to run away.

When she was found after the attack she had almost no vital signs.

Ayyselet remembers almost nothing, but was able to reconstruct what happened from what her daughter and the neighbors told her.

What she does remember is the next two months in the hospital, including six days in intensive care, and especially the first 20 days of being conscious, when the pain was constant and she had trouble seeing herself in the mirror.

“I felt disfigured and thought about how I was going to go back into a world that has so many prejudices and where people would be able to look at what had happened to me, why I looked like that. It took me a long, long time to accept myself and to embrace myself and to accept that every scar that was left on me was a sign that I was alive,” said the young woman.

Ayyselet Gutierrez during an interview with EFE in Mexico City, Mexico, September 12, 2023. EFE/Mario Guzmán


It is this strength to stay alive and to protect her daughter that drives Ayyselet to put public pressure on the authorities to arrest her attacker.

“I no longer want to or am able to continue hiding. I need to get my life back on track, I need to support my daughter, I need to give her the reassurance that she can be safe and free, that she can play without worrying that someone will come along and attack her,” she says with conviction.

Ayyselet says she used to feel ashamed of the problems in her relationship with Julio César.

She recalls that while they were together, he isolated her from her family and friends, and then she stopped working during her high-risk pregnancy. As a result, she often thought she could not break up with him.

“Today, it is easier for me to talk about it, to tell people what happened to me without feeling fear and shame,” she says.

Now, Ayyselet is determined to speak up, and after meeting other women who have suffered violence, she is committed to supporting those who, like her, have not received justice.

That’s why she asks the authorities, in a country where more than 10 women are murdered every day, to deal with these cases without waiting for a tragic outcome.

“And please, if anyone knows who he is, please help us make this arrest now. We will continue to raise our voices as often as necessary so that our story, our case, is not forgotten,” she concludes. EFE