A woman who barely survived a domestic assault that disfigured and nearly decapitated her has a new face, thanks to an organization and doctor who voluntarily performed reconstructive surgery.
Ilianexy Morales was attacked by her then 38-year-old boyfriend in her New York City home six days after she broke up with him in 2005.
Using a butcher knife, he stabbed Morales more than 100 times, nearly decapitating her.
She was 23 at the time.
“Suddenly he just took a knife from his sock and... he started attacking me, all I could do was scream for help,” Morales told NBC 4 New York.
Morales was put in a medically induced coma for two months and underwent several surgical procedures. Afterwards, she was in shock and denial.
“When I actually saw myself in the mirror, it was really shocking to me, really shocking and sad,” Morales said.
A friend referred her to Face to Face, an organization in Virginia that donates medical services to those in dire situations who don’t have the resources to afford intensive plastic surgery.
New York facial and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Andrew Jacono voluntarily performed flap surgery on Morales in an effort to remove the scars from her ex-boyfriend's knife.
Jacono used the healthy, non-scarred skin on Morales's face to replace severely damaged skin from the stab wounds. The six-hour surgery helped remove the appearance of deep wounds on her face and neck.
“I think that she probably had between 70 and 80 percent better scarring,” Jacono said.
Morales said the surgery Jacono performed dramatically changed her life.
“It was like being born again. Before, I wasn’t able to face people. I would hide and stay home and tried to avoid people as much as I can,” Morales said.
Morales is now working as a makeup artist while her ex-boyfriend is serving a 15-year sentence for assault with a deadly weapon. She hopes anyone in a potentially violent domestic situation will learn from her experience and speak up before he or she gets hurt.
“My advice would be that domestic violence can be in many shapes,” Morales said. “You are not alone, you just have to look for the help.”