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Assistance (with clipping path)

MY LEGS ARE YOUR LEGS

How can you live with the memory of what happened to you?

It’s the 13th of January 2006, Rome. “Mine or nobody’s else!” then six gun shots. No time to scream, no time to escape. Milena, a 27 year old student of the Italian Police Academy, is now on the floor, bleeding. Her ex-boyfriend Marcello has just tried to kill her.

The couple had been together for 10 years, growing up in a small village of 5000 inhabitants in the south of Italy. Milena is an ambitious woman and that small town was like a prison for her, always feeling the desire to move away and follow her dreams. Marcello, on the other hand, was working at a fuel station with his father and was hoping to settle down as soon as possible. After high school Milena decided to move to Rome and go to University. Marcello, who stayed behind, was very good at making her feel guilty, telling her that he would kill himself without her. So even if she wanted a new life in a exciting city, she couldn’t find the courage to end their love story, she felt sorry for him.

Scared of loosing her, Marcello eventually moved to Rome. Milena was not happy about this: she was concentrating on her studies and really didn’t have the time to play the ‘wife’ role he expected, but wanted to spare his feelings she let it happen anyway. Because he couldn’t find a good job in Rome, he decided to move back to work with his father.

Milena achieved her first goal in life: a degree in Psychology. She began to realise how her feelings for her boyfriend had changed during the last few years. After university, Milena passed the examination to enter the Academy of Carabinieri (Italian police). Again Marcello, scared of her new life and new friends, proposed to her so that everybody else would know that she belongs to him. After serious thinking, Milena said no to the proposal and finally put an end to their relationship. That wasn’t easy, it’s difficult to say goodbye to the person you’ve shared most of your life with. But she didn’t love him any more and so it was the right thing to do.

His reaction was unexpectedly cold at the beginning. After a few days he started to send her threatening texts, calling her in the middle of the night, driving to Rome and lying in ambush. “Something terrible will happen to you if you don’t come back, all the village will cry”. Ingenuously, she hoped that soon he would accept the reality and leave her alone. They had not been a couple for 3 weeks on the day the tragedy occurred.

It’s 3pm and she’s leaving the academy for the weekend. She receives a text from Marcello: “I’m coming, I want to talk to you, just for the last time, please I won’t bother you any more I promise”. She’s about to make the biggest mistake of her life. Before leaving she told Peter, one of her instructors at the police academy, that she was going to meet her ex. He warned her not to invite him inside her house but to meet him outside, where it’s safe. Worried, Peter decides to follow Milena anyway, without letting her know so he could keep and eye on her.

Milena gets inside Marcello’s car to talk: he says he can’t accept the end of their relationship after so many years, she has to come back to him. He’s nervous and violent. Scared, she gets out of the car and runs. He runs after her, grabbing her arm and pulling out a hand gun. He shoots her, hitting her arm, lung, spinal cord and almost her heart. Everything happens very quickly. Peter, who was hiding a few yards away, immediately intervenes shooting Marcello and calling an ambulance.

Milena’s condition was severe when she arrived at the hospital, for a week nobody knew if she would make it. During this harsh period, Peter was next to her all the time along with her family. Unfortunately, when she finally woke up, her first words were “I can’t feel my legs”. The diagnosis is permanent Paraplegia. Because she had stopped loving a man, she would now have to spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair. Marcello was convicted for 11 years and 4 months for attempted murder.

Milena and Peter, the man who saved her life that day, are now husband and wife, parents of two beautiful twins. “My legs are your legs now”, he says to her.

Unfortunately, after only 7 years in prison, Marcello is now a free man (this is why I consider the Italian justice system as ‘creative’). He’s healthy, he can walk.

Milena has appeared on a lot of TV programmes to tell her story with the aim of helping other women: “A lot of women are dead and didn’t have the chance to start a second time.. Protect yourself, report to the police your partner’s behaviour from the very beginning…Choose life”

MILENA AND PETER

filomena-di-gennaro

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