According to the Domestic Violence Resource Center, six million women are victims of domestic violence every year. The cost for physical and mental health treatments for partner violence exceeds $5.8 billion each year. People Magazine reports of an organization which hopes to help some women and children with some of these expenses.
Deborah Alessi and her husband, Dr. David Alessi, a plastic surgeon, founded Face Forward. Alessi herself was a victim of domestic violence with a previous boyfriend, who she loved and thought he loved her. Until, one day he threw her down the stairs, trying to hit her.
"In that split second," she says, “it changed."
Her organization offers free facial plastic surgery to women and children who are affected by spousal abuse or gang violence, the news source reports.
The Face Forward organization is based out of the L.A. area, helping their clients cover sometimes several plastic surgery procedures, as much as $200,000. Additionally, Alessi makes sure that her clients are getting help with their situation beyond plastic surgery, requiring documentation of the abuse such as police reports, hospital records, also requiring patients to leave their abusive relationships and commit to therapy.
"I want to help them, and I want them to go forward," Alessi told the news source. "But I have rules for them."
"There's no point in fixing somebody's face and having them go back the next week to the bruiser," says Alessi.
These stipulations, also, keep mendacious people from getting free plastic surgery. “You'd be surprised how many people would try to get free plastic surgery," says Alessi.
Finally, the patient must volunteer work to help other abused victims.
Alessi shares a story about one patient, who goes by Saundra. Beaten unconscious by her husband, and has undergone dozens of surgeries, still can't completely close one eye or fully open her mouth. Moreover, stresses that no matter how proficient the surgeon, the procedures don't solve all the problems, even physically.
However, for Alessi, it's not about quick fixes.
"You can't save the world. That's what my husband and I tell each other," says Alessi. "People like Saundra, who is most giving, gives me a high when I'm around her. She wants someone to look at her as a normal person. When I see her, I get emotional. I feel like, oh, my god, she gives me power, she gives me strength."
Face Forward is supported by private donations, including funds from its current auction.