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“This is not a story of misery. This is a story of strength” acid attack survivor Katie Piper on overcoming adversity

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Sarah Biddlecombe
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Philanthropist Katie Piper has some inspiring words for anyone tackling adversity.

Speaking at a highly-charged and emotional talk at Stylist Live, Piper told a packed audience that we should all be grateful for what we have. 

The 32-year-old former model and TV presenter, who survived a brutal sulphuric acid attack in 2008, says “everyone is living someone else’s dream”.

Describing how she came back from the brink after the attack, she insists, “This is not a story of misery. This is a story of how strong the human mind can be.”

Katie Piper spoke at Stylist Live

Katie Piper at Stylist Live

Speaking about the power of hope while sharing her life lessons, Piper described how she came to accept her new life following the attack that left her disfigured and permanently blind in one eye.

Recalling how her family used humour as a coping mechanism while she was in recovery, and her insistence on covering the house with life-affirming affirmations, she said, “I chose to be a survivor. Now I love my scars because they gave me my new life.”

Piper was attacked seven years ago with sulphuric acid in a busy London street, just days after being raped and beaten by a man she had only met a handful of times.

The attack left her fighting for her life in a medically-induced coma and she has subsequently had 60 recovery operations to date.

Despite her ordeal, Piper is determined to remain positive. She said, “One of the most powerful tools we all possess is human spirit. To me, that’s what radiates beauty. We’ve all been touched by it – but no one has ever been touched by the perfect skin.”

Commenting on negative reactions to her scars, she said she reminds herself that, “this is not your shame, this is society’s shame” and “my spirit and my soul are mine and they are untouchable”. She also revealed that one of the most powerful affirmations she repeats to herself is, “what you think of me is none of my business”.

Although he was given a life imprisonment sentence, Stefan Sylvestre, the man who threw acid in Piper’s face, is appealing for parole this month. Commenting on the possibility of his release, Piper said, “Sometimes I wish I had been burnt in a fire and then it would just be over. It’s unfortunate that this will always be a part of my life.”

Katie Piper on the red carpet at the BAFTAs

Walking the red carpet at this year's BAFTAs

Determined to help other people who have suffered from burns, Piper founded the Katie Piper Foundation in 2009 to offer support and assistance to those who needed it.

Since the attack, Piper has also written four books, numerous advice columns and has appeared in TV shows, with her documentary My Beautiful Face being viewed more than 3.5 million times. She is now engaged to Richard Sutton and last year the couple welcomed their first child, Belle Elizabeth.

Being awarded an honorary degree for her work with the Katie Piper Foundation

Being awarded an honorary degree for her work with the Katie Piper Foundation

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Sarah Biddlecombe

Sarah Biddlecombe is an award-winning journalist and Digital Features Editor at Stylist

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