Acid attack survivors show beauty comes from within, help women - Dallas News |

Acid attack survivors show beauty comes from within, raise awareness

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Esperanza Medina and Karli Butler. Esperanza Medina and Karli Butler.
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Esperanza Medina is on a quest for physical and emotional healing. She and fellow acid attack survivor Karli Butler are making this incredible journey together, and hope to bring about more awareness.

Around fifteen-hundred acid attacks are reported globally each year and about 80% of the victims are women. But these attacks often go unreported.

Esperanza Medina was the victim of a horrific acid attack. A woman motivated by jealousy masterminded a plan to pour sulfuric acid all over her face and body.

Five years ago, Medina had a very different life than the one she has now: She had a job, she had love and she had her whole life ahead of her. But then she crossed paths with evil, in her words.

Her attacker tried to take her looks, and Esperanza thought she was going to take her life. But what her attacker couldn't take was her desire to live, and the courage it takes to face her new life.

Medina was left disfigured after that horrific, painful incident. Her flesh was burned away from face, neck, back and arms. Since the attack, she has had 25 surgeries as doctors try to reconstruct her face.

But Esperanza's wounds weren't just external – she was left emotionally scarred as well. She told FOX 32 News there are days when she forgets about her appearance. She tries to be sociable and lead a normal life. But the long stares and questions are inevitable.

Through the struggle and pain, somehow Medina has found the strength forgive her attacker.

"Beauty, for me, is within the heart," Medina said. "There are some people that are definitely beautiful on the outside, but you never know. I think beauty is inside the heart."

Esperanza joined Good Day Chicago Friday morning to tell her story, in the hope of inspiring other women to persevere.

At 23, Karli Butler was attacked by people who were seeking retaliation against her on-and-off again abusive boyfriend. They threw battery acid at her, which ate through her clothes and burned 30% of her body.

Butler has turned that attack into activism. She's working with Medina to bring awareness to attacks like these, encourage victims to report the incidents and provide a support system for those recovering – on a journey to their new lives.

Forgiveness is a huge part of the process. These women have had to learn to let their anger go in order to stop themselves from living in the past, move forward and enjoy the lives they live today.

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