A woman who was left with permanent facial scars after her boyfriend ‘fly-pegged’ a whisky glass at her head has told how the man she thought was her soulmate became controlling and obsessive before launching into the violent attack.
Delia Fernandez, 24, was inside the studio apartment she shared with Julian Sebastiao in Parramatta, Sydney’s west, in May last year when he unleashed his fury, leaving her dripping in blood and needing emergency surgery.
The couple had been together for about a year at the time, with Ms Fernandez initially enamoured by 23-year-old Sebastiao, who would turn up to her work with flowers in hand and carrying her lunch.
‘I really could not fault him at the start. He ticked all the boxes and he was kind and I thought I had found my soulmate and my place in the world,’ Ms Fernandez told 60 Minutes on Sunday.
‘I would have died for that man. We were very, very in love. I could not even believe he did it. I couldn’t believe my life was just flipped in the blink of an eye.’
Ms Fernandez said the Covid pandemic changed their relationship, with the couple spending a significant amount of time together inside the small apartment while she worked from home and he demanded ‘we’re not leaving the house’.
Delia Fernandez appeared on Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes program on Sunday where she told of the terrifying moment her then boyfriend ‘fly-pegged’ a whisky glass at her head in May last year
Pictured: Ms Fernandez is seen with stitches in her face after her ex-boyfriend Julian Sebastiao threw the whisky glass at her head at the studio apartment they shared
‘The biggest problem started after work from home had begun – I had nowhere to go,’ she said.
‘I was right there always, 24/7. I was isolated with him. You just become like a caged animal sometimes.’
Ms Fernandez said in the lead up to the terrifying domestic violence attack, Sebastiao became possessive, developing an obsession with keeping her to himself.
She revealed how she thought she was going to die as she crawled along the floor after Sebastiao forcibly threw the whisky glass.
‘He was screaming, he was freaking out. That’s when I really thought my life was over because I knew that he was now in self-preservation mode. He didn’t care about my wellbeing,’ she said.
‘I couldn’t even walk. I was trying to crawl to a mirror to see the damage. And he ripped me back by the legs and told me If I tried to look in the mirror again, that was it.
‘He turned every mirror in our apartment around face down or against the wall and said I was not allowed to look in the mirror and I knew then how horrific the injury must have been.’
Ms Fernandez said the horrific attack changed her life in an instant, leaving her with the feeling she had ‘lost everything’.
Ms Fernandez is pictured with Sebastiao before the attack. The couple had been dating for just over a year
Ms Fernandez made a joke about one of her boyfriend’s friends and Sebastiao became so enraged he grabbed her shirt and pushed himself on to her. He then threw the glass at her
‘I was not only mortified by what happened but I was also grieving. I lost my whole life that night. I lost everything. I lost my normal way of life. I was defeated,’ she said.
‘You look at it and you’re like but why. Why did I have to be permanently and viciously scarred like this. I can’t escape it. I can’t wake up and pretend it’s not there because it’s right there for me to see.’
But almost a year after the incident, Ms Fernandez said she feels like she has regained her life and sense of freedom.
‘I feel like I’ve got my life back, the old me, where I see my friends. There’s a lot of trauma that came along with it but it was also like a blessing in disguise because I’m free now,’ she said.
Sebastiao, 23, escaped a jail sentence despite pleading guilty to common assault and grievous bodily harm.
Ms Fernandez previously took to Instagram to share photos of a handwritten card Sebastiao had written her on their one-year anniversary – just ten days before the shocking attack.
‘They gaslight you and treat you like a Queen one day and the next they threaten you with suicide if you try to leave. There’s just no winning,’ she wrote alongside an image of the card.
‘It isn’t all name calling and aggression. They use words like these to confuse and manipulate you into staying. Everything he stated was true. I did bring all of the above to the table and I was a good partner.’
Ms Fernandez shared a handwritten card to Instagram her former partner had given her for their one-year anniversary – 10 days before the shocking attack
Ms Fernandez also posted another card her then partner had given to her, accompanied by a warning to other women
She revealed how terrified she was of Sebastiao’s words because they were penned so close to the attack.
‘Yet it didn’t stop him attacking me when he didn’t get this way (or) thought he was going to lose me. These words scared me the most because this was given to me just 10 days before the incident,’ Ms Fernandez said.
Another card given to Ms Fernandez over Christmas was also posted to her Instagram, accompanied by a warning to other women.
‘They are consumed by their feelings and then blame you when you are the one hurt. Never allow this. You think it’s love girls but it’s not. If someone loves you they won’t do what these men do,’ she wrote.
‘It is so hard to leave because it’s a bunch of really high highs but then really low lows and they always remind you of the good times because it’s like a drug.’
Ms Fernandez and Sebastiao were lying in bed together on May 26, 2020, when she made a comment that angered him, the Parramatta Advertiser reported.
‘He was saying of the whole male population, (not) one wanted to be my friend or family member, and said they saw me as a piece of meat and I laughed and said ”That’s how your brain works”?’ Ms Fernandez said.
The couple began to discuss whether Ms Fernandez’s friends would find Sebastiao attractive.
‘He was getting frustrated that I wasn’t getting jealous,’ Ms Fernandez said, adding that she is not an insecure person.
Ms Fernandez (right) was left with permanent scars following the domestic violence attack inside the apartment she shared with her then-boyfriend, Julian Sebastiao, in Parramatta, in Sydney’s west
Ms Fernandez then made a joke about one of her boyfriend’s friends and Sebastiao became so enraged he grabbed her shirt and pushed himself on to her.
She struggled to breathe as he leaned his weight on her chest. Sebastiao eventually let go and began to pace around the couple’s dining area.
Ms Fernandez threw a TV remote control in his direction and Sebastiao hurled the 10cm tall glass at her head.
She suffered a 5cm laceration to her left cheek, a 1.5cm cut to her left eyebrow and numerous superficial wounds after the glass shattered on her face.
The injury caused Ms Fernandez to bleed profusely. In the wake of the attack, Sebastiao refused to call an ambulance for his injured partner.
According to police facts, he instead took Ms Fernandez’s clothes off and put her in the shower to try and clean off the blood. He later called his mum who advised he should phone for an ambulance.
Magistrate Rodney Brender said the level of domestic violence was ‘completely unacceptable’. Sebastiao (left) was convicted and sentenced to a 15-month intensive correction, to be served in the community
The couple instead stayed at the apartment until Sebastiao’s mum arrived and she tried to clean Ms Fernandez’s wounds.
Sebastiao’s mum took Ms Fernandez to Westmead Hospital, while he was picked up by a friend. Ms Fernandez underwent surgery two days after the attack.
Sebastiao was sentenced in Parramatta Local Court, where Magistrate Rodney Brender said the level of domestic violence was ‘completely unacceptable’.
He was convicted and sentenced to a 15-month intensive correction, to be served in the community.
Magistrate Brender also ordered Sebastiao to pay a $700 fine and complete 200 hours community service.
Ms Fernandez has used her Instagram to document her recovery and speak out against domestic violence following the attack.
Almost a year on from the horrific attack, Ms Fernandez (pictured) said: ‘There’s a lot of trauma that came along with it but it was also like a blessing in disguise because I’m free now’
‘Thank you to everyone for your constant love and support, you are all the reason I rebuilt my life from scratch in such a short amount of time,’ she wrote on an Instagram post in December.
‘I’ve accepted these scars and they are a constant reminder everyday of what we all came back from with strength. There’s hope for all the ladies out there suffering in silence, we have so much life to live.’
Ms Fernandez also shared Instagram stories after her ex-partner was convicted.
‘This was confronting but I’m glad this nightmare is finally over,’ she wrote.
For domestic violence support, call 1800 RESPECT
For 24/7 confidential support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14
DELIA FERNANDEZ’S SHARED HER STORY ON INSTAGRAM
Ms Fernandez showed how she went from being in a ‘perfect’ relationship to suffering permanent scars
Ms Fernandez shared her story to Instagram to speak out against domestic violence and offer support to others who are suffering.
Ms Fernandez’s statement after the court case:
‘Meanwhile I’m very happy and at peace with the life I’ve rebuilt eight months later. I love my job, my apartment, my PTSD puppy and my friends.
‘I’m grateful for my recovery and I have accepted my scarring.
‘Everything that monster gave me I’ve given to myself ten times over with the help and support of my loved ones.
‘I have my spirit back and my friends look after me with such care and dedication with none of the stress or drama attached to it and that’s all I can ask for.
‘Ladies there’s such a great life waiting for you on the other end, there’s men that will love and appreciate you without violence and if you’re in a similar situation I urged you to take that step.
‘Grateful and blessed’.
Ms Fernandez shared a picture of the glass her former partner threw at her during the domestic violence incident