“Erasing” The Scars Of Abuse

The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Offers Complimentary Facial Plastic Surgery to Survivors of Domestic Violence

New York, NY August 3, 2000 – He punched her. He pushed her. He burned cigarettes out on her face. He kicked her repeatedly, and her face bore the dents of the steel-toed work boots that her former boyfriend had worn that horrendous morning when he broke the bones in her face. Her cheekbones were shattered, and as a result, this caused the left side of her face to cave in. Geneva, who once endured relentless beatings, is a survivor of domestic abuse.

Today, Geneva is safely away from the situation and has had facial plastic surgery to “erase” the physical scars of abuse, thanks to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS): FACE TO FACE: The National Domestic Violence Project. “I had no self-esteem, and the dent in my cheek was a constant reminder of the painful memories that I lived with for over 10 years,” says Geneva. “I had always felt that just by looking at me, people knew all about my past.”

In the United States, a woman is beaten every nine seconds by an intimate or former partner, and over 75 percent of women who are in an abusive relationship receive battering to the face and head. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) , nationally, at least 5 million women are affected by domestic violence each year, and more than 1 million of those victims require medical attention.

The AAFPRS is the largest international association of facial plastic and reconstructive surgeons and the first surgical group to take a firm stand against domestic abuse. In 1994, the AAFPRS teamed up with the NCADV to develop the AAFPRS FACE TO FACE: The National Domestic Violence Project. The program was created to help repair both physical and psychological scars by providing complimentary consultation and surgery to domestic violence survivors who have suffered injuries to the face, head or neck. To date, over 1,250 women have been helped by the FACE TO FACE program, and over 275 AAFPRS surgeons participate in the program.

“This is a monumental problem that knows no boundaries,” says AAFPRS President, Dr. Devinder Mangat ,” and FACE TO FACE is just one of the ways that we, as a specialty organization, can give back to the community. While we can’t take away the memories of the past, we can make a difference by repairing the physical scars that the patient has endured to the face, head and neck, which is a major stepping stone in helping to rebuild a person’s self-esteem.”

The AAFPRS and NCADV offer a 24-hour toll free number – 1-800-842-4546 – for survivors of domestic violence who are burdened with physical scars located on the head and neck. During the initial call, survivors are screened to determine if their injuries are a result of domestic violence, if they are out of the abusive relationship, and to obtain a brief description of the injuries sustained.

“Going through the FACE TO FACE program made me feel special again,” says Geneva. “For once people are taking an interest in me and my life and are not treating me like just another abused victim. The program answered my prayers and gave me a new lease on life.”

About the NCADV: The NCADV serves as a national domestic violence network of information, referral, education and technical support for the general public, media, survivors and their children, allied and member agencies and organizations. The NCADV sponsors a bi-annual, national conference on domestic violence and also serves to impact public policy and legislation, which affects battered women and their children. The NCADV is committed to work for major societal changes necessary to eliminate both personal and societal violence against all women and children.