When Dana Vulin fells asleep on February 16, 2001, she could have never predicted the horrible tragedy that was about to happen. Dana was at home in Perth, Western Australia taking a nap at her home when she heard a voice whisper: ‘Hello, Dana.’
Dana awoke to see Natalie Dimitrovska, the jealous estranged wife of a man named Edin who Dana had met once before.
Natalie Dimitrovska was obsessed with the notion that her husband was having an affair with Dana and threatened her for weeks before the premeditated attack. Dimitrovska made repeated threatening phone calls, saying: ‘You’re dead, b****’ and vowed to ruin her ‘pretty little face’.
When Dana told Natalie she was not interested in her husband and wished them well the abuse did not stop.
Dimitrovska, a convicted drug user, threw a bottle of methylated spirits over her whilst holding a lamp used for smoking crystal meth in her other hand.
Then, Natalie lit a match and tossed it on Dana:
“I was pretty much instantly on fire,” a weeping Ms Vulin told Western Australia’s District Court. “I was a human fireball.”
“The moment I was on fire, [Dimitrovska and a male accomplice] just laughed and ran out of my apartment,” she added.
A neighbor heard her cries for help and discovered Dana lying in the shower. They quickly called 911 and Dana was rushed to hospital.
After more than 30 reconstructive surgeries, Dana has become the poster girl for survival over adversity in her home country of Australia. She was forced to wear a mask between her countless operations.
Dana felt her life was completely stripped from her identity having have to wear a pressure suit and mask: “I’ve been faceless and it makes you feel like a nothing and a no one,” she said.
“I know who I am, but I’m beige. I don’t have any expressions on my face, you can’t see my mouth, you can’t see my nose, you can literally only see my eyeballs, not my eyebrows. It makes me feel like a faceless nothing, that’s the best way to describe it.”
“It’s your identity, so I think in order for somebody to heal inside you have to heal on the outside. I have the right to have my face that I was born with back. Everyone has the right to have their face.”
Natalie Dimitrovska was eventually sentenced on October 11, 2013 in the District Court of Western Australia and was given 17 years in prison for grievous bodily harm.
Judge Bruce Goetze told a sobbing Natalie: “It is totally unimaginable how you could not put out the flames, or try to do so, or at least call for help. Instead, you laughed and ran away.”
But Dana’s terrible ordeal was not over yet…
Just when things seemed to be looking up for Dana she had another battle to face. Doctors told Dana the heartbreaking news she had been diagnosed with cervical cancer.
“As soon as I looked into his eyes I said to him, ‘it’s bad isn’t it?’ And he said, ‘Yeah I’m sorry, you have cancer’,” Ms Vulin told Channel Seven’s Sunday Night show.
“I just couldn’t believe that, dealing with so much at once, there were times where I thought how much can one person deal with?”
But despite Dana’s terrible ordeal and the battle ahead – she’s thankful she is able to smile once again.
“In my wildest dreams in the beginning I didn’t for one second think I could look in the mirror and see the old Dana again.”
Dana decided the only course of action was to keep fighting on: “I’m going to make this burn my b*tch, I’m going to kick it in the face and I am going to rock scars, look hot with my scarred-up body and just make this work. It would’ve been easier to die but I’ve never taken the easy road to anything so…It is the hardest, rockiest, biggest mountain you can possibly think of.”