RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – NBC12 has uncovered a story of violence, survival and now moving on. Earlier this month, we brought you the first interview with the Henrico mother shot in the face by her husband. Wednesday, only we were inside the operating room as a plastic surgeon donated his time to perform a free, life-changing reconstructive surgery.
Wednesday February 22, marks exactly one year from the day Starshema Austin's husband shot her in the face while she was holding their infant child and their oldest daughter looked on. She will leave the operating room with a new face, which will bring her one step closer to leaving her violent past behind.
Starshema Austin told us for an entire year, she has been hiding.
"It's been very painful," she explained.
Star owes her life to her daughter, who cleaned her up after the shooting and called 911.
"It's been a lot, a whole lot," she said.
She lives every day with a constant reminder of an abusive relationship staring back at her in the mirror.
"Just not looking normal, not looking like I used to," she described. "My self confidence, my self esteem that was already down but now it's just completely in the negative."
That should change after Wednesday, as reconstructive surgeon Dr. Travis Shaw said Star seemed very positive on her way into the O.R. The goal of the outpatient procedure is to rebuild the area around her eye and restore symmetry to her face.
"Your outward appearance is often a reflection of how you feel on the inside and I think by helping her with her outward appearance today, hopefully we can help her heal," Dr. Shaw explained.
This is one of the worst traumas Shaw has seen. Inside the operating room during the complicated surgery, there's bleeding, scar tissue and other challenges.
"I'm going to put something right in this little corner here to support the eye from the underneath," Shaw showed us.
After almost three hours on the table, Star still has a long road ahead. She'll be swollen, in pain and will require more surgeries. The physical agony and heartache of the last year has shown her she didn't deserve the abuse.
"What a great example she is to her children and to other women out there that they can make it through this kind of thing," Dr. Shaw believes.
And that is why she let us bring our viewers her painful journey.
"I don't want anyone else to go through all of that I've gone through," Star told us.
It's too soon to tell just how many more surgeries Star will need.
In the meantime, her husband, Damond Austin, is serving a fifty year sentence after pleading guilty to malicious wounding and a gun charge.