Girl with the phoenix tattoo: Burns survivor is ‘real life phoenix’ after beating the bullies
A burns survivor who defied medical odds after having a TWO percent chance of survival calls herself a ‘real life phoenix’ – and has the tattoo to prove it.
Aged two, Harley Dabbs, spent three months in hospital when a terrible house fire left her small body with 85 percent burns.
Her badly scarred skin made her a target for bullies and as a teen she struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts.
However, the pretty blonde, who calls herself a ‘phoenix’ after the mythological bird which is reborn from ashes, learned to wear her scars with pride.
To mark her personal change, Harley, 21, got a tattoo of a phoenix rising from flames with the words: ‘I am fearfully and wonderfully made.’
Harley, from North Carolina, USA, said: “I was bullied as child, and still am, but it doesn’t affect me anymore like it did a few years ago.
“I got tired of feeling the way I did about myself and realised this negative person wasn’t me and what happened to me, happened for a reason.
“God allowed me to live and I believe He allowed this – I’m supposed to help others, burned or not, realise they’re beautiful regardless of what society portrays.
“I hope to become a nurse and a motivational speaker to help others.”
For 18 years Harley has undergone skin grafts and surgeries at Shriners Hospital for Children in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she meets other burn survivors.
She added: “Shriners is my second home. It was like another planet to me.
“I felt like I was another species and it made me feel okay being there because there were people who looked like I did – I actually felt like I belonged there.
“At the time I didn’t feel okay with myself, going to school or just out in public was very hard for me.
“I would even wear coats and pants during the summer. I just didn’t want to be seen.
“I couldn’t handle the stares and comments people would make.
“At 14 I started getting depressed – I hated the way I looked and wanted to die.
“I contemplated suicide numerous times. I couldn’t stand looking in the mirror at myself.”
Harley also credits her supportive boyfriend, Joshua, with her new positive outlook.
She said: “He makes me feel beautiful on the days I don’t think I am.
“And when I can’t be strong, he stays strong for the both of us. He’s definitely held me up especially on my darkest days.
“Now I’m a warrior, I’m tough. I am who I am because I fought to be this person.
“I went through hell just to come out on top and I will every time.
“I hope my story will help others who battle with their scars or birth defects or weight.
“No matter what, they can get through their tough times and that they will be okay.”