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Lye Attack Survivor Battles Back

Carmen Tarleton & Kesstan Blandin Carmen Tarleton & Kesstan Blandin
Herbert Rodgers Herbert Rodgers

Thetford, Vermont - August 14, 2008

A story of inspiration and hope-- that started with a horrific act of violence.

Carmen Tarleton survived life-threatening, and life-altering, chemical burns to her face and body. She is recovering, but her current appearance may be hard for some people to see.

Now Tarleton is speaking out for the first time. She wants to share the story of what happened to her as a way of saying thank you to her family and friends and to take a stand against domestic violence. Her spirit is strong-- despite severe injuries.

Reporter Adam Sullivan: "How are you feeling Carmen?"

Carmen Tarleton: "You know, I'm feeling pretty good. It has been a long recovery and I feel a lot better today than I did certainly six months ago."

It's been over a year since Carmen Tarleton was attacked in her Thetford home. She was beaten then doused with industrial strength lye-- which burned over 80 percent of her body. There was question whether she would survive.

State police called it one of the most heinous acts of domestic violence they had ever seen. But sitting in her living room with her older sister by her side, Tarleton puts a more positive spin on things.

"It was a horrible thing that nobody wants to go through and nobody deserves to go through, but if you look beyond that you see that something is working for you. When everything falls into place and you can wake up months later and have your daughters. That is special."

Tarleton's estranged husband, Herbert Rodgers, is accused of the crime. He faces a potential life sentence.

But the former nurse and mom of two teenage girl refuses to feel sorry for herself.

"I'm not into the victim role. I am going to live the way I want to live," she says.

It's a strength that her sister, Kesstan Blandin, says has always been there. "I can imagine other people are thinking, how do people get through that? And now we know how-- which is the strength that you already had, that you didn't know you had, are what come to the forefront."

Blandin says that despite the many changes her family has endured over the last year, one thing remains the same: "It is still Carmen. I mean something incredible has happened to her, to all of us, but mainly to her. And yet, she is still the same woman."

A woman with scars that are still healing-- but a resolve that will never be broken.

"I so much appreciate, and am grateful for what I have, and all the strength, not just in my family, but strength in my community that have really helped me more than everybody will know," Tarleton says.

Sullivan: "So you are happy to be alive?"

Tarleton: "Yeah, oh yeah. More than happy to be alive... to be with my kids, to be with my family."

Carmen Tarleton says that she is taking life taking one day at a time. Both with the healing process-- and with how she plans to share her story in the future.

Herbert Rodgers is charged with aggravated domestic assault with intent to disfigure or maim. A trial date has not been set.

Click here to learn more about Carmen Tarleton and her recovery efforts.

Adam Sullivan - WCAX News

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Carmen's Road to Recovery

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