Mir­a­cle burns sur­vivor

This mir­a­cle burns sur­vivor de­fied the odds to find the man of her dreams

Woman’s Day (Australia) - - Contents -

When brave Bianca Aravena looked at her re­flec­tion, she crum­pled in tears. The scars that cov­ered 65 per cent of her body were for­ever a re­minder of her night­mar­ish or­deal.

“I looked like a mon­ster,” the coura­geous New­cas­tle-based re­cep­tion­ist says. “I thought no one would ever love me.”

But Bianca was wrong. There was some­one out there who not only saw the beau­ti­ful woman be­neath the scars but fell head over heels in love with her. Troy Hop­kins, 30, says he adores the scars that serve as a re­minder of what a coura­geous woman she is.

Now 31, Bianca was just 14 when she suf­fered a most hor­ren­dous at­tack. She was at a park with two friends when she bumped into her ex-boyfriend and his mate mess­ing around with a lit ice-cream con­tainer filled with petrol. “He kicked the con­tainer to­wards me,” Bianca says. The flames en­gulfed her, turn­ing her into a hu­man fire­ball.

Paramedics ar­rived and rushed Bianca to Syd­ney Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal, where she had 13 op­er­a­tions to treat third-de­gree burns cov­er­ing her legs, but­tocks, and the right side of her body, face and neck. Her in­juries were so se­vere she was put in an in­duced coma for three months to re­cover.

The at­tacker was found guilty of griev­ous bod­ily harm and given a com­mu­nity ser­vice sen­tence, a le­nient pun­ish­ment that baf­fled Bianca, who has been on a mis­sion since to push for harsher sen­tences for sim­i­lar crimes.

She wants Aus­tralia to adopt Judy’s Law, an Ohio, US, leg­is­la­tion where per­pe­tra­tors are sen­tenced to an ad­di­tional six years in prison if their vic­tims are left dis­fig­ured.

“My burns were so ugly I thought no­body would ever love me,” Bianca says, adding she strug­gled so much with her in­juries she tried to take her own life.

But one per­son cham­pi­oned her beauty – her mum Is­abel. “Some­one will love you for who you are,” she promised.

And 17 years on, as Bianca was strug­gling to love her­self again, she found her soul­mate, on dat­ing web­site Plenty of Fish. “I told Troy I’d been burnt but he didn’t mind,” says Bianca, who has had nu­mer­ous tat­toos to cover the scars that shamed her. “I hated the way I looked and thought my life was over,” she re­mem­bers.

But all that changed when she met Troy. Af­ter just three months of dat­ing, they knew they’d both found The One. “I didn’t no­tice her scars. I love ev­ery­thing about her,” says the labourer, who is also a burns sur­vivor.

“I’m in a po­si­tion now that I never thought I’d be in,” Bianca says proudly.

“I’m happy and to­tally in love.”

‘My burns were so ugly I thought no­body would ever love me’

Bianca was in an in­duced coma for three months and “died” four times. Troy pro­posed to Bianca in Noosa, and now the pair are plan­ning a wed­ding, and a fam­ily to fol­low!

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