Saturday, 9 May 2009

Connie Culp

Whilst I was in the waiting room at St Barts Hospital last week, I had nothing else to do but read the Metro back to back for at least an hour. I was pretty stunned when I came across the story of Connie Culp.

Connie is the first person to ever have a face transplant in the US. Her face was blown off by her husband 5 years ago who attempted to kill her and then himself. He failed on both accounts and was sentenced to just 7 years in prison. I will commence my rant about international prison laws another day.

The before the shooting, before the face transplant and after the face transplant pictures of Connie are astounding. I, like a lot of people, have moments of being terrified about the way I look and what people think of me. All my inner insecurities seem so absurdly trivial when I look at these pictures.

I cannot imagine what this woman has gone through - being shot by someone you are in love with, surviving it, seeing him put behind bars and living with the constant physical reminder of what he has done to you plus on top of it all, being ostracised by society because of your appearance - something you had absolutely no control over. In the interview I read, Connie described that one of her lowest moments was when a child said to its mother, "I thought you said monsters didn't exist but there's one right there."

The most startling point about the Culp case is the fact that Connie has publicly forgiven her husband for what he did and is waiting to be reunited with him on his release from prison. I just cannot get over this. Is this a god-like level of forgiveness or just madness? I have no idea. Is it a classic case of Stockholm syndrome where the victim sympathises with the aggressor? Perhaps.

The two points I have taken away from all this is to try and accept myself and my appearance a whole lot more and to also chill out about people and not jump the gun and lose my temper. Whether you look at Connie Culp as the epitome of a modern survivor of a woman or as a slightly confused abused wife, her story must be made an example of and remembered.


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