Catie Scott-Gonzalez went to an oral surgeon today to have her mouth fixed so she can eat solid food again, the latest step in recuperating from a vicious beating inflicted by her husband in front of a judge who was finalizing their divorce.
Her husband, Paul Gonzalez, a former Marine, became enraged when Judge Ronald Rothschild ordered him to pay child support for the couple's two young children. The hearing -- and the alleged beating -- took place in the judge's private chambers at the Broward County Courthouse last Friday.
"The two things that triggered him the most were the child support and custody," Scott-Gonzalez, 23, told ABCNews.com. "He advised the judge that he thought child support was unconstitutional."
When Rothschild reprimanded Gonzalez, 28, telling him he'd go to jail if he didn't pay child support, the former Marine erupted, Scott-Gonzalez said.
"He had told the judge he was going to take the kids and nobody was going to see them again……I looked at the judge to see the judge's response," she said. "When he came after me, it was from behind…he started strangling me with his left hand and started hitting me on my face with his right hand."
Scott-Gonzalez's mother, Doreen Scott, was outside of the chambers waiting for her daughter to wrap up the proceedings when she heard the tussle.
"We heard banging and screaming and then as I started to run in, all of these bailiffs came from elevators with canine dogs. I just said, 'where is my daughter?'" Scott said.
Her daughter was lying on the floor in a pool of blood. The first blow to her head had knocked her unconscious. Bailiffs had to taser Gonzalez twice to subdue him.
The Ft. Lauderdale woman spent three days in the hospital with a broken nose, fractured cheekbone and broken jaw. She was so badly beaten that her children, Isabella, 2, and Nathaniel, 3, didn't recognize their mother.
"They didn't want to come near me…It was very emotional and upsetting, but they're little. They didn't understand…It was upsetting to see them cower away from me," Scott-Gonzalez said.
Scott-Gonzalez's vision is so blurred that she had to withdraw from her college classes because she'll be unable to study for her upcoming finals.
"I still have constant headaches. My equilibrium is off. I still need assistance walking," Scott-Gonzalez said.
Her now ex-husband is behind bars on a $1 million bond. He's facing felony battery charges.
Scott-Gonzalez's mother, who is a nurse, tended to her battered daughter on the floor of the judge's chambers.
"She's healing surface-wise, but she is not emotionally healing. She's waking up in the middle of the night crying," she said.
Scott-Gonzalez said that this wasn't the first time her four year marriage has turned violent. She filed for a restraining order twice before, but it was denied. When she separated from her husband a year ago and moved in with her mother, she started carrying a taser to protect herself.
"Going through a metal detector [at the courthouse], I assumed I was in good hands, that I was being protected, that something like this wouldn't happen," she said.
Now she fears for her safety when Gonzalez gets out of jail.
"What would he do if he got me behind closed doors," she said. "I will be fearful for my safety and children's safety for the rest of my life."