Erasing Scars One Face at a Time
DALLAS, Aug 24 - More than five million women are victims of domestic violence each year. In many cases, the scars from battering are permanent reminders of abuse.
But now one program is helping to erase the physical scars, if not the mental ones.
Just the thought of it is still enough to make Ann Underwood flinch, even decades after the abuse. As a young mother, Underwood struggled to raise seven children with a violent husband.
"My first husband told me one time his purpose for being on this earth was to make my life miserable, and he was going to see to it that every time I looked in the mirror I'd remember him," Underwood said. "And I do."
Her nose has been broken several times, her cheekbone split open, and has scars across her face.
"What we're going to do is lift the tip and take out the scar tissue from previous injuries," said cosmetic surgeon, Dr. Jim Gilmore.
As part of a national program called "Face to Face," Gilmore and other doctors perform free cosmetic surgery on domestic violence survivors.
"Most of them have had situations where they've been abused, battered and they have deformities, mental and actual physical scars," Gilmore said. "And we like to try to erase them."
"I want to get to where I can look in the mirror and not see that anymore," Underwood said.
A week after surgery, Underwood already noticed a difference. "We got rid of the scar and we straightened the nose," Underwood explained. The old wounds that were constant reminders of painful memories have all but been smoothed away. "It's wonderful to be rid of them," Underwood said.
For the first time in decades, she says she sees the old Ann and the reflection of a woman she'd almost forgotten.