Model's struggle after rape and acid attack

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The Independent Online

A model and aspiring TV presenter who had sulphuric acid thrown in her face has revealed details of her courageous battle to recover and pioneering surgery to treat her burns.

Katie Piper was left fighting for her life when her jealous boyfriend Daniel Lynch raped her and then arranged for another man to throw the corrosive liquid on her.

The acid burned through all four layers of skin on her face and some spilled down her throat, damaging it so badly that she needs to be fed through a tube into her stomach.

She was left blind in one eye and has undergone more than 30 operations on her face and throat. Surgeons had to remove the skin from her entire face and use an artificial skin substitute and skin grafts from other parts of her body to rebuild it.

The 26-year-old's recovery will feature in a Channel 4 documentary later this month, and she has waived her right to anonymity over the sexual assault. In the film, she says she was a “fun person” before the attack on March 31 last year.

She said: “I was a fun person. I had lots of friends. If I went somewhere and people met me for the first time they would say ‘Oh, you're really pretty’ and I would think ‘Yeah, I am’.”

In the wake of the attack and only able to communicate by writing, she told her mother Diane “kill me”.

She now wears a plastic pressure mask for 23 hours a day to flatten her scars and keep in moisture.

She said: “I think I've got the chance to build a life.

“I don't it's going to be that easy, but I wanna try. I want to move on from my attack, and I don't want to be a scared little child. I want to blossom into a confident, able woman.”

”My dream would be just to live a normal life and after all this be able to meet somebody again and learn to trust a guy and the normal dream: a girl wants to get married and have kids.”

She has thanked the hospital staff who saved her life and have cared for her since the attack.

“Coming to terms with the fact that my life as I knew it before the acid attack was over, and that my facial appearance had changed forever, has been incredibly difficult,” she said. “I wouldn't have been able to rebuild my life without the support of all the staff at Chelsea and Westminster.

“I want to say thank you to everyone in the Burns Service, in particular my surgeon Mohammad Jawad who has done an amazing job of rebuilding my face - it has exceeded my expectations of what I ever thought would be medically possibly. I'm absolutely thrilled.”

She told the News of the World that she had decided to go public to raise awareness of the plight of burns victims.

Miss Piper said: “I've decided to tell my story so that people know what these men did to me. To help people understand who have ignorance about people that look different, and for people not to be frightened of burns and the stigma attached to it, to understand that it's still the same person underneath.”

* Katie: My Beautiful Face will be shown on Channel 4 at 9pm on Thursday, October 29.

* Source: The Belfast Telegraph