DANA Vulin has no time to waste hating the woman who turned her into a human fireball.
The 31-year-old 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 says despite the horrific pain she’s been through, she feels nothing about Dimitrovska, who laughed 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 told AAP.
“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 has written about the horrific attack and her long road to recovery in a new book, Worth Fighting For.
She’s 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 says 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.
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.
“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 spends much of her time giving motivational speeches and working for charities.
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.”