It wasn’t often that my friends, Jade, Kirsty, Reiko, Holly, Samantha and I could all get together.
The Friday of a long weekend, we’d caught up over dinner. Not wanting the night to end, we’d headed on to our local, Northies, in Cronulla, NSW.
'Let’s get a drink,' I said. So we went to the bar, before heading over to dance by the DJ booth.
After a few minutes I noticed something. A drunk woman dancing next to us kept bumping into Jade.
Jade turned around to try to see what was going on, but it kept happening.
It was spoiling things, so I decided to try and fix it. I don’t want this to cause any drama, I thought.
Perhaps if I had a quiet word...
Her face was just inches from mine.
Stepping over to the blonde woman, I gestured to an empty spot behind her.
'If you need room to dance, there’s room over there,' I said calmly.
'There’s no room,' she said without turning to look.
So I pointed again.
Then she suddenly pushed me with both hands. The shove sent me stumbling backwards into the DJ booth. As I tried to get back on my feet, she came at me again.
I saw a wild look in her eye as she grabbed at the back of my head and held my hair tight. Looking up at her, I instinctively reached up to grab her hair, pulling it to try to stop her hurting me.
What the...? I thought, bewildered. I’d been nothing but polite and now I was in a fight.
Her face was just inches from mine.
Suddenly, she lunged towards my left cheek and bit hard. Clamping down, she didn’t let go.
Then two security guards arrived and pulled us apart as my friends looked on in horror.
'Go over there,' one said to me, pointing to a room at the back of the bar as the woman was bundled away.
That’s when I noticed a metallic smell. Putting my hand to my face I felt warm liquid.
And looking at my hand, it was covered in blood!
This isn’t just a graze, I realised, mortified. With the rush of adrenalin, I hadn’t felt any pain.
Realising my cheek must be pretty badly hurt, I felt angry and confused.
Biting is so savage, I thought. How could she do something so vicious? But I felt scared too.
I’m only 21, I thought. Would I look different for the rest of my life?
'It’s like she was taking a bite out of an apple,' I thought, horrified.
Would I be able to go out on dates? Or even come back to the pub?
All this went through my mind as I sat waiting in the back room with Jade who’d come to give a statement.
'It’ll be okay,' she said, trying to comfort me.
Police asked us what had happened while medics tended to my wound. But it was clear I needed to see a specialist.
Jumping in a taxi to the hospital, I still hadn’t caught sight of my face. So while I was waiting to be seen, I went to the bathroom.
Seeing my reflection, I was shocked. There was a deep 3cm gash on my cheek. You could even see teeth marks.
It’s like she was taking a bite out of an apple, I thought, horrified.
A specialist explained that because mouths contain a lot of bacteria, there was a real risk my wound could get infected.
Hooked up to an antibiotic drip, I was told I’d need to stay in hospital.
By now, I’d called my dad Andre, 53, and he and my brother Justin, 25, quickly arrived.
Pulling me into a hug, Dad tried to reassure me that everything would be okay. 'You’ll be fine,' he said. 'They’ll fix you up.'
When Justin saw the wound, he was angry. 'Animals bite,' he said. 'Not people.'
Plastic surgeons stitched up my cheek, but I had to stay in for four nights to be sure there was no infection.
Back home, I could barely open my mouth to chew and I had to use mouthwash instead of brushing my teeth.
Then, in March this year, Chelsea Hall, 28, of Woonona, NSW, pleaded guilty to assault causing actual bodily harm.
She was given an eight-month jail sentence to be served in the community. I was pleased I’d been taken seriously.
Now, 10 months on, I see the mark on my cheek every day. If I flush, it gets more noticeable, and when I’m cold my cheek tingles.
'You need to learn to not be angry about it,' Dad said wisely if I dwelt on it. 'It won’t do you any good.'
He’s right, I realised. I can’t let this ruin my happiness.
I’m saving for laser treatment to minimise my scar, but I’ve faced my fears and been back to Northies with my friends.
I won’t let someone’s ugly actions bring me down.
Chelsea Hall, 28, of Woonona, NSW, pleaded guilty to assault causing actual bodily harm at Sutherland Local Court.
Hall told police her throat had been grabbed during the incident, and she had feared for her life and felt bullied. The court heard her judgement had been 'clouded by the amount of alcohol she had'.
Magistrate Peter Bugden described Cheye Way’s injuries as a 'horrendous wound' and sentenced Hall to eight months prison to be served in the community through an intensive corrections order.