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Carmen's Road to Recovery

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Carmen Tarleton & Kesstan Blandin Carmen Tarleton & Kesstan Blandin

Thetford, Vermont - August 15, 2008

Carmen Tarleton survived a horrific domestic assault that changed her appearance and life forever.

She's already faced multiple surgeries and has more to go. But she's making plans for the future.

"We are sit around and say, 'oh my God I could never do that,' and the truth is I believe you can," Tarleton says.

Tarleton is slowly healing from the wounds suffered during the brutal domestic assault. Police say her estranged husband poured industrial strength lye all over her-- scarring most of her face and body. But the injuries are not stopping her.

"I walk independently, I have a blind cane, and I'm able to get up and do simple things like go to the bathroom and hit the kitchen," she says.

A synthetic cornea has been placed in her left eye. It's hoped that will restore at least some of her sight. Tarleton has had about 40 surgeries since the attack and she knows that more are in her future.

"I'm going to have my mouth and my nose fixed," she explains. "I'm still with open wounds so I don't know if I am going to need some skin grafts to that or not."

Tarleton's sister, Kesstan Blandin, says, "When something so big and unfair happens to someone you love and your family, it sets everything in its proper relationship in life."

Blandin says that in some ways, the incident has brought a new richness to their family. "She just confronts what has happens to her, then deals with it, then gets very practical."

Which will eventually mean sharing her story-- hoping to give strength to others.

Tarleton says, "I do plan on writing a book some day in the near future and I do plan on, I hope to start a foundation for people who need help in the Upper Valley. Not just domestic violence."

And going back to work as a nurse, though Tarleton acknowledges she probably will not be able to work bedside like she used to.

"Nursing is a wide field and I'm just going to find another place in nursing, that's all," she says.

But, for right now, Tarleton says it's just one day at a time.

"Maybe I got to take a couple years of recovery to get where I want to go but if that is what I got to do, that is what I got to do."

People who have heard Carmen speak out-- especially those in the field of domestic violence-- say she is an inspiration for all the other victims out there.

"One of the things that is amazing about having the opportunity to work with people that have experienced these horrible things is to see their amazing ability to overcome it, and to try to find meaning after something like this has happened, and it seems like that is certainly what Carmen is doing which is really amazing. I think too, that it is wonderful that she is willing to give a voice to something that often times people have a difficult time talking about," says Lavinia Weizel, who works for a crisis center.

But experts say that how people deal with these crimes really needs to be decided on an individual basis. The following are hotlines and websites that can help.

www.wiseoftheuppervalley.org
Crisis Line: 603-448-5525 or 1-866-348-9473

NH & VT State Organizations:
www.nhcadsv.org
www.vtnetwork.org

National Hotlines:
National Domestic Violence Hotline -- 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
National Sexual Violence Hotline -- 1-800-656-HOPE

Adam Sullivan - WCAX News

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