A woman who was left scarred for life by an acid attack orchestrated by her ex-partner has told of her ordeal and her battle to rebuild her life.
Vikki Horsman, 21, suffered horrific burns after jealous Mohammed Rafiq, 80, paid two thugs to throw sulphuric acid in her face, four months after she broke up with him.
The care assistant from Smethwick, West Midlands, says: “The attack has completely changed my life. I’m scarred for life and the mental scars may never go.”
Vikki met evil Rafiq four years ago through her half-sister, Ceri Parkes, 26.
She says: “I was particularly vulnerable having just lost both my parents and my nan in a very short space of time.
“With so much tragedy in my life, Mohammed became my shoulder to cry on.”
Nasty Injuries: Vikki Horsman pictured one week after the horrific acid attack in April 2014
“I wasn’t looking for romance, but we started a sexual relationship,” she continued.
“He told me he was 45-years-old, but the age gap didn’t bother me too much.”
But Rafiq quickly changed from the perfect gentleman to a controlling boyfriend.
Vikki says: “He questioned where I was all the time and he never trusted me.
“He even persuaded me to convert to Islam. Although hesitant at first, I agreed in the blind hope it would make him trust me.
“I started praying five times a day, wearing head scarves and even changed my name to Aleena.”
Acid Attack: Vikki is now scarred for the rest of her life – and not just physically
But Rafiq’s possessive behaviour became worse and he accused Vikki of cheating on him with other men.
She tried to convince him she was faithful, but he refused to believe her and one day she caught him snooping around her bedroom.
It was the final straw and Vikki ended the relationship, but agreed to stay friends with Rafiq. In April last year though, her life changed forever.
Agonising Attack: Her ex paid two thugs to carry out the attack for him
She says: “Me and Mohammed were having a cup of tea at Kerry’s house, our mutual friend. The doorbell rang and I answered.
“He called my name, telling me I had a visitor. I went to the door to find a man wearing a black bandana over his face and clutching a plastic bottle filled with black liquid.
“Before I could react, I felt the hot liquid hit me in my face.
“Pain seared through my upper body and instantly my lips blistered.
“Screaming in agony, I fled to the kitchen to douse my skin in water. I could smell my own flesh burning and, in the panic, I feared that I was about to die.
“I was so hysterical, I could barely tell the emergency services my name so Mohammed took over.
“Minutes later, paramedics arrived and rushed me to hospital, pumping me full of morphine in the ambulance.”
Doctors put Vikki into an induced coma for six days so they could help her body recover from the 25 per cent burns that had seared her face, neck and chest.
But Vikki, who felt like a ‘monster’ and sobbed the first time she saw her scarred skin, says the mental scars are just as traumatising.
She says: “Visions of the attack constantly replay in my mind and I’ve only just been able to get back to work, after being signed off with anxiety, depression and pain.
“I hid indoors while my injuries healed and even now I cover them up with a scarf.
“If the doorbell rings now, I’m too scared to answer it. Mohammed has completely changed my life.”
Moving on: Vikki says she’s now too scared to answer the doorbell following the incident
In December of last year, Mohammed Rafiq, 80, of Cheshire Road, Smethick, was jailed for 18 years at Wolverhampton Crown Court, for masterminding the horrific attack.
During the trial, the court was told how Mohammed had paid thugs Shannon Heaps, 23, and Steven Holmes, 25, just £50 to throw sulphuric acid on Vikki.
He’d even pretended to be a victim himself in a bid to escape the blame.
Heaps and Holmes were jailed for 14 and 12 years respectively.
Vikki says: “I’m relieved they were jailed, but it will never take away the pain I’ve endured.
“I feel so stupid for believing Mohammed’s lies.”
Despite feeling ‘ugly’, Vikki is rebuilding her confidence thanks to Richard Hammond, 26, a gardener, who she met last year.
She says: “I still have my low days, but having such an amazing man on my arm makes me feel that I can take on the world. Richard makes me feel beautiful, inside and out.
“I’ve found true love and I refuse to let those men ruin the rest of my life.”
This story originally appeared on: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/woman-scarred-life-after-jealous-6121844