Burns survivor Dana Vulin has spoken about why she doesn’t want to waste her life hating the woman who almost destroyed it.
The 31-year-old Perth native nearly died when Natalie Dimitrovska doused her with methylated spirits and set her on fire during a jealous rage in Ms Vulin’s Perth apartment in 2012.
While Dimitrovska is serving a 17-year jail sentence, Ms Vulin has undergone countless surgeries on the deep scars covering her torso, arms and face, as well as endured painful daily physio sessions and overcome huge mental hurdles.
Ms Vulin recently opened up about her difficult physical and emotional journey, ahead of the release of her new book, Dana Vulin – Worth Fighting For.
Ms Vulin has vividly recalled the horror of the attack in a new book: Dana Vulin – Worth Fighting For (pictured)
Ms Vulin (pictured) has undergone more than 200 surgical procedures since she was set on fire in February 2012 by Natalie Dimitrovska
Ms Vulin she feels nothing about Dimitrovska, who laughed as she watched her body go up in flames.
Although she speaks frankly about the horrific pain she suffered, Ms Vulin takes a sanguine approach to Dimitrovska – the woman who stood by laughing as she watched her body go up in flames.
‘I learned when I was very young not to hate, and I’m so glad I learned that lesson before my burn because to hate is so toxic on the mind and body and this could have been a whole different journey if I didn’t learn that lesson,’ she said.
‘I just focus my energy on being positive and my recovery and helping other people.
‘Who’s got time to hate? Hating is stupid. Nobody wins.’
Ms Vulin was badly injured in the horrific attack – suffering third-degree burns to two thirds of her body
Following the violent assault, she spent two days in a coma. Her life since has been a series of countless medical procedures
In a previous interview with Daily Mail Australia, Ms Vulin spoke of how countless medical procedures changed the course of her life irrevocably.
She had suffered third-degree burns to two thirds of her body and for two and a half years, Ms Vulin had to wear a compression mask on her face – in a bid to help her horrific burns heal.
She spent a year-and-a-half in the hospital and would have the skin on her chest completely replaced three times.
She famously removed the compression mask to reveal her changed face on Channel Seven’s Sunday Night.
‘No one thought it was physically possible [to recover so much],’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
She would spend a year-and-a-half in the hospital and would have the skin on her chest completely replaced three times
Previously, Ms Valin has described herself as a ‘modern day Frankenstein’ and said she is a ‘walking advertisment for what modern medicine can do’
She had to wear a compression mask on her face for two-and-a-half years to recover
Ms Vulin has worked ‘like a crazy person’ to be able to walk again and regain mobility in her arms, which were frozen for years by deep, tight scars.
But her mind has travelled to some dark places along the way and she said if wasn’t for the support of her family and burns experts, including former Australian of the Year Professor Fiona Wood, things could have worked out differently.
‘All my family was worried about me killing myself and it would have been easier to die, but I decided to live,’ she said
The Perth native is calling for Australia to bring in tougher sentencing for violent criminals
One key turning point was when she felt utterly ‘broken on the inside’ because she couldn’t hold her one-year-old nephew when he came to visit her in Royal Perth Hospital.
She decided she would not only survive but thrive, and fight to have groundbreaking treatments available in Australia.
‘All my family was worried about me killing myself and it would have been easier to die, but I decided to live,’ she said.
Despite impossible odds, Ms Vulin said she was determined to not only survive but thrive
All the evidence proved there was no way I was going to make the recovery I was going to make.
‘My head agreed with the doctors but my heart wouldn’t let me give up hope.’
Ms Vulin now spends much of her time giving motivational speeches and working for charities.
She credits her confidence for helping her get through even the darkest of times
Ms Vulin, who was once told she would never be able to hold a pen again, has even returned to normal mobility and range
She’s also campaigning to have sentences for attackers like Dimitrovska increased to 20-25 years.
‘We are seeing this now all over the world. The UK is bringing it in, Ohio is bringing in longer sentences. Why should we be behind?’
Ms Vulin still has many surgeries and treatments ahead of her, but hopes one day she’ll become a mum.
‘I’ve learned to love and respect my body,’ she says. ‘My message is whatever you have, make the best of what you’ve got.’
Dana Vulin’s book Worth Fighting For, published by Penguin, is out on 28 August. For more information visit here.