BEVERLY HILLS (CBSLA.com) — A domestic violence survivor underwent free facial reconstructive surgery, thanks to the generosity of a local non-profit group.
23-year-old Anna Advena suffered permanent damage to her face and nose after being severely beaten by her high school boyfriend.
“I was held hostage for about four hours,” she said. “What literally saved my life was that someone heard me calling for help.”
Advena said she’s reminded of the pain and suffering every day.
“You wake up in the morning and you don’t see the person you used to look like. You see the person you became because of someone else,” she said.
Dr. David Alessi, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon and biochemist, believes it’s a miracle Advena survived her nasal injuries.
“Anna had a fracture of her nose from her abuser. She was struck from the front, (which) crushed her nose inward. Her nasal bones are displayed outward and her nasal tip is displayed outward, so cartilage is fractured,” he said.
Alessi continued, “The entire support of her nose was fractured inward, too. So if you look at her nose, it hangs down and drapes down over her lip.”
He said years after the abuse, Advena still has the disfigured scars and has difficulty breathing normally.
So with the help of Dr. Alessi and Face Forward, a non-profit that provides surgical reconstructive services for victims of domestic violence, Advena recently underwent nasal surgery.
“These women have to look in the mirror every day and be reminded of what happened to them, so it’s very hard to move forward,” said Face Forward CEO Deborah Alessi.
Advena said she hopes the surgery will help her heal emotionally and physically.
“I want to be able to feel free of my past and this will give me freedom,” she said.
Dr. Alessi said although her nose won’t be perfect, it will still be a noticeable difference to Advena.
“We can actually get (her nose) more refined…get bones back to where they were before, straighten bones on the outside, and make the inside of her nose open so she can breathe,” he said.
Advena hopes telling her story publicly for the first time will give other victims of violence courage and inspiration.
“I wanna be proof that it is possible to change your life again and possible to renew yourself physically and emotionally,” she said.
For more information on the non-profit group, visit Face Forward.