Deaf woman shares account of abusive relationship
Last night a Deaf woman from Florida, Hazel Ramirez, posted two public vlogs in which she said she was in an abusive relationship. The vlogs are about 30 minutes in total and included graphic images of injuries that she said was inflicted by her ex-partner. She identified him as Mathew Silvay.
The vlog was shared over 1,500 times within the first 24 hours. She accused Silvay of committing multiple acts of physical abuse, which included battering, choking, body-slamming, being pistol-whipped, and having a gun forced in her mouth.
Ramirez also described abuse towards other family members and different forms of abuse. Her vlog also included recorded video conversations with Silvay. In one of the conversations, Silvay said he wished he could shoot Ramirez and in another he said he would punch her.
Ramirez said she is now in a court battle against Silvay to get custody of a child and asked for donations to raise $5,000 to keep her lawyer.
Ramirez said there were several people who witnessed the abuse but did not intervene, describing them as bystanders. She named one of them as Rocco Lauricella, who is known as a Deaf musician.
Many in the Deaf community know of Ramirez and Silvay because of a viral incident in May 2018 when they were together. They accused a man of punching both their service dog and Ramirez, who was pregnant at the time, in a plane.
The Daily Moth reached out to Ramirez and received her permission to discuss this on Moth. She said she did want to get the police involved during their relationship, but backed off.
Ramirez said the allegations of domestic violence is now a part of the court case.
The Daily Moth reached out to Silvay to provide a comment, but he declined. I also talked with a person who supports Silvay — the person said Ramirez’s stories are false.
The Daily Moth reached out to Lauricella to provide a comment on being named as a bystander. Lauricella said he has seen an incident of Silvay being on top of Ramirez and a small bruise the next day on her lip. He said that the whole relationship was toxic. He said it caused him to feel “unspeakable” and that he didn’t really know what to do in that kind of situation. He said there is a lot more to it and that he is not a bad person.
Ramirez shared on her Facebook wall an account of a woman who said she used to be in a violent relationship with Silvay in 2016 and the three years prior to that. Ramirez said, “Not the first time, he did that to many ladies!”
Hundreds of people on social media shared statements of support for Ramirez and anger at the situation.
The Daily Moth reached out to the Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Services (ADWAS) and talked with Marie Goodman, a Deaf Advocate for the National Deaf DV Hotline.
There was a viral vlog by a woman, Hazel Ramirez, who described her experiences of being in a violent relationship. She included images. It’s all over the internet. She mentioned that there were bystanders, individuals who saw things but did not intervene. I wonder what is ADWAS’ perspective on bystanders? Is it a crime as well? What is the impact if someone saw abuse but did not intervene?
It is not a crime to be a bystander but the reason why they don’t say anything could be because it’s out of fear. Or they think, “it’s not my problem” or “it’s none of my business.” They don’t want to interfere. They feel like someone else will take action. Or they feel they might make the situation worse. Or they don’t feel qualified to intervene, that there should be someone with authority to do this. There are various reasons. But there are different ways to intervene without risks. You can approach a manager or a landlord and tell them there is a situation. You could secretly record it with a phone so it can be used as evidence. If the person who caused harm left or is not around, you can approach the survivor and provide support or offer support. You could do that. Tell them that it’s not their fault, that this shouldn’t happen.
How would you recommend people to respond to others who create a vlog that reveals previous experiences? Some might say they are faking it, others might offer support. Some might doubt it. Others say there are two sides. Some will throw their full support. How should people respond to DV survivors’ stories?
Well, it’s not easy to know what to say, especially when it is a family member or a friend. It’s not easy to respond. But you should believe, always believe whatever they say. That’s their side of the story and it does involve domestic violence. It’s important to show support and not judgment. Always believe their stories and never minimize their story. Because with DV, there is only one side of the story and it is the survivor’s side. There are different ways you can talk with survivors. “I believe you.” “That’s brave of you to reveal your story.” “It’s not your fault.” “You don’t deserve this.” “I care and I am here to listen and help in any way.” Or you can say, “I’m sorry this happened, it shouldn’t happen to you.” Continue to give support and avoid judgment. Check in regularly. Know your resources and give it. Also know that we have a Deaf DV hotline that you can refer to. You can contact us and we’ll give you a plan for safety.
Alex: Thank you for your time and for explaining. There were several other Deaf organizations that work in domestic and sexual violence advocacy who put out statements of support for Ramirez on social media.
Ramirez said her next court appearance will be on August 15. The link to the vlog is below in the transcript.
[Image of a logo of a purple circle with two hands holding each other] Text reads: thedeafhotline.org. 855-812-1001. NationalDeafhotline@adwas.org