Abused woman goes through transformation

LOS ANGELES When Ronnie Smith examines her face, it brings back memories of being a battered woman.

"I have a broken nose from being punched. Same relationship put my head throught a brick wall, slammed me up against a curb, and broke my jaw," said Smith.

Her hair loss reveals another battle scar. Once she escaped her abuser, doctors diagnosed her with incurable brain cancer.

"I had surgery, radiation with an experimental drug, and they told me I had 36 months to live," said Smith.

Despite grim odds, Ronnie fought cancer and won. She's a survivor in every sense of the word. Her inspiration: her daughter.

"I want my daughter to see me live my life in a way that I'm not resentful, not angry, not destructive and to rise above and live life to the fullest," said Smith.

Ronnie worked hard to become a new, joyful person. Now, Dr. David Alessi is giving her a chance to look how she feels inside.

Through his charitable organization Face Forward, Dr. Alessi and his team help rebuild the lives of battered women.

"She has the most saddest eyes. You just look at this woman and you know she's been abused for many, many years," said Dr. Alessi.

For Ronnie the plan is to lift her brows, lift her chin, repair her nose and get new hair.

"Some of the things we're going to do is to reverse some of the changes associated with the years and years of tremendous stress that she's been under," said Dr. Alessi.

Ronnie says the changes weren't just physical-- they happened deep down inside as well.

Three weeks later, the surgical team can't believe it's her. Ronnie's transformation feels complete.

"Because when what you feel inside matches what you see on the outside when you look in a mirror, it changes everything," said Smith.

While her daughter Sierra loves her mom's new look, she knows it's what is inside that counts.

"I don't really care show she looks, she is an amazing person. It's wonderful that she has a chance to look pretty," said Sierra.

Ronnie hopes sharing her story will give courage to other women suffering abuse.

"And it will be painful to go through and painful to change things, but in the end and long run it is extremely worth it," said Smith.

Face Forward's goal is to help one victim of domestic violence every month. The organization also enlists the help of psychologists and social workers to help clients deal with emotional issues as well.

  • Link: Face Forward
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