Doctor gives domestic violence victim in Richmond a new lease on life

Published: Feb. 2, 2017 at 9:30 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 3, 2017 at 11:34 AM EST
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A Richmond woman who was the victim of domestic violence is getting a new lease on life thanks to the kindness of a local doctor.

The woman, who isn't being identified due to the sensitivity of the situation and her fear of retaliation, was beaten, raped and sodomized by a man who she says was a platonic friend and roommate over a decade ago.

The woman says she found herself at the lowest point of her life while in her 50s, losing everything and becoming an alcoholic. She went to an alcohol rehab program with the hopes of getting sober. While she was there she met a man who also said he was trying to get sober. The two moved in together in order to help one another in their recovery journey.

The woman said at first, the situation was fine until the man started to show violent tendencies.

"He started drinking again, supposedly doing some drugs. One night I was attacked for sex," " the woman said she was beaten, raped and sodomized for days. "He told me he was going to make sure I wasn't attractive to anyone else; he was going to ruin me."

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A neighbor eventually heard her screams and called the police. The attack was so horrific, the man was eventually sentenced to 20 years in prison, while his victim suffered from emotional and physical wounds.

"Part of this story is I was left disfigured in the breast," the woman said. She was so brutally beaten, her breast implant deflated. "The implant has shriveled and grown to my chest wall, the muscles, my shoulders are crooked so if I move my arm the right way it's very painful."

It also took an emotional toll.

"I covered my mirrors, all my mirrors in my bathroom are covered with a towel when I get out of the shower," the woman said. "Because when I look in the mirror, the first thing I think of is why this is like this what happened."

The woman, who is now 65 years old, has tolerated the pain for more than 10 years, but will soon be given surgery, pro bono. Dr. Neil Zemmel, CEO, medical director and plastic surgeon at Richmond Aesthetic Surgery heard this woman's story through another patient and immediately knew he wanted to help. He offered to reconstruct her breast for free, something that normally would cost between $10,000 and $20,000.

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"The goal of her surgery is to go back in, take out her ruptured implants," said Dr. Zemmel. "Redo the pockets where the implants sit in and put in brand new implants to make her as symmetric with the nicest aesthetic results we can."

It's an act of kindness, this woman says, and makes her feel whole again as she continues on her long road to recovery.

The surgery is scheduled for the end of March.

Six local agencies in the Richmond area have teamed up to staff the Greater Richmond Regional Hotline. Those impacted by domestic, intimate partner, and/or sexual violence can call (804) 612-6126 seven days a week, 24 hours a day.If you believe you or a loved one have experienced domestic, intimate partner, or sexual violence, you can call the confidential hotline. They will provide you with options, share resources, and support your decisions. All hotline specialists are trained advocacy volunteers who will help you on your journey to empowerment.

The hotline serves those who are in Chesterfield, Richmond, Hanover, Henrico, Goochland, Petersburg, Tri-Cities area, and New Kent, VA.

The YWCA of RichmondThe James HouseProject HopeSafe HarborHanover Safe Place, and Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services collaborated to provide a single, centralized resource for callers in need of crisis intervention, services, and/or resources.

PLEASE SHARE TO SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT THIS! The Greater Richmond Hotline is staffed by trained advocacy volunteers...

Posted by NBC12 on Wednesday, February 1, 2017

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