CRIME
02/28/2013 02:05 pm ET Updated Feb 28, 2013

Carmen Tarleton PHOTOS: Domestic Violence Expert Admires 'Strength' Of Vermont Nurse Attacked With Lye

Carmen Blandin Tarleton is starting over.

The Vermont former transplant nurse has undergone more than 50 surgeries -- including a full face transplant -- since her jealous ex-husband poured lye on her in 2007, burning and disfiguring more than 80 percent of her body.

She's currently recovering from a transplant that applied an anonymous female donor's facial skin to the 44-year-old's nose and lips, facial muscles, neck, arteries and nerves. Doctors tell the Associated Press that Tarleton is "a fighter" and quoted her as saying she feels "strong, and . . . confident that I have the strength to deal with whatever comes my way."

Even those who have only read Tarleton's story are touched by her willpower. Amy Barasch, the former executive director of the New York State office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, told HuffPost Crime that Tarleton is a role model for all victims out there -- reported and unreported.

GALLERY (Story continues below):

PHOTO GALLERIES
Carmen Tarleton

"Ms. Tarleton's desire to turn her visible scars into a symbol of strength for the millions who suffer less visible harm from those that profess to love them is astonishing," Barasch said. "Fortunately, most partner violence does not result in such a brutal physical attack, but when partner violence remains the most common assault call to which police respond, we know we need to do more to prevent this kind of abuse."

In 2009, Tarleton's attacker and now ex-husband Herbert Rodgers pleaded guilty to disfiguring her, in exchange for a lighter prison sentence of at least 30 years. Cops at the time said Rodgers believed Tarleton was seeing someone else and went to her house to attack the man. Instead, he attacked Tarleton, breaking her arm with a bat and fracturing her eye socket before pulling out the lye.

Now the mother of two says she feels more blessed now than before the attack, in her book, "Overcome: Burned, Blinded and Blessed."

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misspelled the victim's name in a photo caption. We regret the error.

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