TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — It’s a miracle Melanie Gonzalez is alive.

“I’m dead,” said Melanie Gonzalez, a domestic violence survivor. “You win. There’s no more you could do to me. I’m going to die.”

On May 9, Gonzalez said she was stabbed with a kitchen knife 37 times. Deputies said the father of her three kids admitted to the abuse. When the knife broke, Gonzalez said her abuser began hitting her with a wooden club.

“Don’t kill me,” she said. “I just kept telling him don’t kill me.”

The violence unfolded in front of Gonzalez’s 10-year-old son who ran to the neighbor’s house to call 911. She said he saved her life.

“I’m alive,” she said. “I was given a second chance to be here.”

A second chance to be a mom. Gonzalez said she ignored red flags in her ex-boyfriend, Ivan Villasenor, who was living with her to raise their three young kids together.

“He was always nitpicking at me,” she said. “He was very jealous and overbearing. [He was] watching me through my room or he would watch me through the window.”

There are 41 certified domestic violence centers throughout the state of Florida. The Spring of Tampa Bay is one of them.

President and CEO, Mindy Murphy, said you can’t always predict the behavior of someone that’s abusive. The Spring provides safe spaces and empowers survivors.

“You have to trust your gut feelings, but you also can call and safety plan with a certified domestic violence center advocate and ask the question: Is this abuse? Am I overreacting?” Murphy said. “Often times, the answer is no, you’re not.”

Murphy said there’s a lot of reasons survivors don’t leave.

“Leaving is complex and frankly our society does not do a very good job in supporting survivors when they leave and often punishes them and blames them for the abuse,” she said.

Villasenor is charged with attempted felony murder. He’s in the Pasco County Jail awaiting prosecution.

Gonzalez’s kids live with family. She is now empowering other women to stand up and leave.

“Don’t be afraid to get up and go your life,” she said. “Your kid’s life has to come first. You can’t be a mom if you’re dead,” Gonzalez said.

She has a GoFundMe account if you would like to help her and her three kids.


  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233
  • Crisis Center – (813) 234-1234