Marni Sawicki
Brent N. Clarke/FilmMagic

Marni Sawicki, the mayor of Cape Coral, says she will not get back with her alleged abuser

June 28, 2017 05:38 PM

Marni Sawicki and her family headed to Miami Beach’s Fontainebleau Hotel last week for the United States Conference of Mayors, a political conference to address issues facing municipalities across the country. It was supposed to be an uneventful trip for the 47-year-old mayor of Cape Coral, Florida.

But on Saturday night, police were called to the upscale hotel on a domestic violence call.

A police report obtained by PEOPLE said that officers found Sawicki sitting on a bed, blood splatter on the sheets. She had swelling around her left eye and chin. There were red marks around her neck. Police say that there were also punch marks on the walls of the hotel room.

They soon arrested Sawicki ‘s former husband, Kenneth D. Retzer, and charged him with domestic violence, PEOPLE confirms. He was released on $7,000 bond on Tuesday, and has not yet entered a plea. It was not immediately clear if he has retained an attorney.

While the police report initially redacted Sawicki’s name, the mayor soon acknowledged that she was the alleged victim in this case. She spoke publicly about the incident and its aftermath on Monday.

“I refuse to be ashamed of it,” she told reporters, according to the “I will not let people shame me into not doing my job or [saying] that this is my fault.”

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Sawicki said that she was “finding her strength” after the incident. She has received counseling from Abuse Counseling & Treatment. She also said that she would push for legislation to help domestic abuse victims.

“If it can happen at a very high-profile mayors conference, it’s happening to millions every day,” she said.

And although Sawicki declined medical treatment at the scene, she now says that she shouldn’t have been given the option. “It should be mandatory that both sides get medical treatment,” she told reporters. She added that, after the incident, “I wouldn’t have known if I needed treatment.”

Retzer had scratches to his face and a bitten finger and was treated at the hospital. Sawicki acknowledges causing those injuries, but alleges she was “fighting back,” and that her ex-husband was the aggressor.

She says that she will cooperate fully with investigators, and will ask for a permanent protection order. She says she will press charges. “In our history, I’ve gone back in the past,” she told the News-Press. “This time is different.”

Neither Sawicki nor Retzer returned PEOPLE’s requests for comment on Wednesday.

Sawicki tells reporters that there’s a lesson that everyone can take from her situation. “It’s never okay to put your hands on someone,” she said on Monday. “That should be the message.”

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