Europe

Queer couple ‘attacked by out of control’ thug who followed them home and kicked down their door

Lily Wakefield February 23, 2022
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Sunday and Martina in Venice.

Sunday and Martina in Venice. (Sunday Russell)

A queer couple endured an alleged homophobic attack by a thug they say screamed abuse at them before becoming violent and following them home.

Sunday Russell and Martina Bressanutti’s ordeal began when they met a friend for a drink in Venice, Italy, where Martina lives and Sunday visits often.

Neither Sunday nor Martina had ever met the man before. They told PinkNews they were shocked when he began “being abusive towards [his partner, and] verbally abusive towards us”.

He was “really out of control”, they continued, “smashing his fists on the tables. Just aggressive behaviour”.

The man was “screaming” at his girlfriend and started hurling homophobic comments at Sunday and Martina before he began physically pushing them, the couple said.

Bar staff kicked him out, but he hovered outside.

Sunday and Martina met around a year ago. (Sunday Russell)

“We decided to stay there until we felt a bit more safe,” Sunday said.

The couple called the police, and soon the man seemed to have disappeared.

“We just started to to run because we were a bit shook by what had happened already,” Sunday said. “Then, from the corner of my eye, I saw him chasing us. At that moment, we were just completely scared.”

Martina continued: “We got to the door of my flat and I couldn’t find my keys.” By that point, the man had caught up to them.

“We got inside and closed the door,” Martina said. “He started kicking the door as hard as he could… He managed to open the door. He held Sunday on the floor, their face was on the floor and he was just keeping them there.

“I had to grab him as hard as I could and sort of lift him up, and we both fell on the ground.”

The police arrived, and at that point Martina saw the extent of Sunday’s injuries.

“Sunday’s hand was totally… I don’t even know how to explain,” she said. “Like, their fingers were bent, twisted, the hand was broken, for sure.”

They made it to a hospital, but it turned out that the police had also escorted their assailant to the clinic. He began screaming homophobic abuse at them yet again, the couple say, before he finally left.

Over the next day or so, the couple made more trips to the hospital, where they found out that Sunday had a metacarpal fracture that required surgery, as well as to the police station to give their statement.

Sunday faces hospital fees after they were attacked in Venice. (Sunday Russell)

An investigation is ongoing by Venice police, but it is currently unclear whether their assailant will contradict their version of events. If he does, there could be a trial.

Martina is originally from Italy and had been living in Glasgow, but recently moved back to Venice. Sunday is hoping to secure a visa sponsor and join her after their landlord hit them with a 50 per cent rent increase, essentially evicting them.

Sunday often comes to Venice, sometimes for months at a time, and has always considered it a “safe space to be” as a queer person.

They were forced to fly black to Glasgow while severely injured after being hit with soaring hospital bills.

“I was billed for the checks, the x-rays, the bandaging,” they said. “There’s even an initial fee as soon as you walk into the hospital.”

On top of that, the surgeries that Sunday required were estimated to cost between €6,000 and €10,000.

Now back in Glasgow, they have had the first of their surgeries, which included implanting wires into their hand. With no permanent place to stay, they are sleeping in a friend’s living room.

Sunday, a chef and ceramicist, is facing a six-month recovery period during which time they will be unable to work. It is not yet clear whether their hand is permanently damaged.

The couple decided to start an emergency crowd-funding page to raise money, not only for Sunday’s medical expenses, but also for accommodation and legal fees in their case against their attacker.

Thankfully, the couple have been “overwhelmed with the generosity” of friends and strangers alike. “There have been a lot of tears of joy,” Sunday said.

“Our friends have been amazing. They’ve set up a fundraiser in this bar with lots of performers, they’re doing bake sales, clothes sales, stuff like that. We feel very loved.”

Martina added: “A lot of strangers have donated, it’s just great.”

At the time of writing, the couple have raised almost two thirds of their £6,000 goal.

 

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