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"It feels good when you can smile and know that the world is smiling with you. I smile all the time now, but for 10 years I couldn't. Whenever I looked in the mirror I saw a monster, today, I see a beautiful woman."
So writes a domestic violence survivor and a recipient of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry’s (AACD) Give Back a Smile program.
The visible effects of domestic violence often go far beyond bruises and black eyes. Survivors can suffer severe and lifelong injuries at the hands of a partner, and do not always have the means to receive care to heal these injuries. Living with visible signs of abuse, even after leaving an abusive partner, can obviously be a hurdle to emotionally and mentally overcoming such trauma.
In 1999, the AACD began Give Back a Smile to help survivors repair injuries to their front teeth, also known as “the smile zone.” The survivor, above, featured on the Give Back a Smile webpage, was attacked so violently by an ex-partner that she lost her front tooth and one of her eyes.
Her story is, unfortunately, not unique. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women ages 15 to 44—more than car accidents, rapes and muggings combined. And, rarely, are these incidents of abuse singular events, meaning a woman who is attacked by a partner once is likely to be attacked repeatedly..
Along the same lines as Give Back a Smile, the FACE TO FACE program, which began in 1994, offers facial plastic and reconstructive surgery to domestic violence survivors. Offered by the Educational and Research Foundation for the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, FACE TO FACE helps repair injuries to the face, head and neck caused by partner abuse.
To learn more about FACE TO FACE, or to apply for help by one of their cosmetic surgeons, call 800-842-4546.
For more information on Give Back a Smile, fill out the application on their website (link above) or call 800-773-4227.
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