Inspiring story of how autistic teen who suffered horrific facial injuries after being attacked by gang has gone on to become a model
12:32 GMT, 19 November 2012
An autistic teenage who suffered horrific facial injuries after she was set upon by a gang has thanked her attackers for giving her the strength to go on and become a model.
Sophie Russell, 16, had to have re-constructive surgery on her shattered face and was off school for 10 months following a brutal attack in February last year.
The assault left Sophie with serious internal bruising, a broken nose and bleeding top lip as well as post traumatic stress disorder.
Fighting back: Sophie Russell has reached the final of a modelling competition after recovering from an attack by a gang of nine which left her with a broken nose, right
But less than two years later, the teen, who has Asperger's syndrome, has recovered to reach the final of a national modelling competition. If she wins she will scoop a modelling contract and will appear on the front cover of a glossy women's magazine.
Sophie from Market Rasen,
Lincolnshire, remarkably thanked the mob today who set upon her because she said the attack gave her the strength and confidence to pursue her modelling ambition.
Silver lining: Sophie said she always wanted to model and her ordeal gave her the strength to go for it
She said: 'I thank the people who beat me up
because I wouldn’t be the person I am today, I’ve become a much better
person – I’m much more ambitious, it’s thanks to them.'
Sophie was attacked by the gang of nine who waited for her outside her school in Louth, Lincs, in February last year as she walked to her boyfriend’s home.
In the moments after the attack,
Sophie managed to hide behind a wall and use her phone to call her father
who rushed to her aid and took her to hospital.
She was discharged that evening but found out four weeks later her nose was broken and she had to have surgery.
Victim: The teen has been left with a scar on her top lip following the attack which happened in February 2011
Speaking out after the attack in 2011, Sophie said: 'What I went through was really traumatic and ripped the family to bits. I was just walking to my boyfriend’s house and wasn’t expecting to be attacked.
'I had to jump over a wall to get away from them, then I called my dad and he came and took me straight to hospital.'
Shockingly, the mob of four girls and five boys were let off after police only handed one of them with a caution.
But Sophie said she has now put the ordeal behind her and has never been happier.
Confidence restored: Sophie is delighted to be modelling and was also chosen to be an Olympic torch bearer this year
'All of my surgery and
counselling is now complete and my life is going extremely well. I am
now working towards a modelling career and becoming myself again,' she said.
She added that she feared she would not be able to model after her attack and that her confidence was at 'rock bottom'.
But now she has made the final of
the modelling competition, where she will be up against over 200
other hopefuls, and also this year she was also selected by London 2012
officials to be an Olympic torch bearer.
has been my career of choice
since I was about four,' she said. 'I thought that because of my face I wouldn’t be
able to do it. I thought “I'm going to have to pick a different career”.
'My confidence was at rock bottom. I thought “you have to be strong”. Since then I carried the torch and I have become a better person.'