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Scarred for life by a plastic cup

Lauren's night ended in hospital

Lauren’s night out with friends ended in hospital.

Here, Lauren Cameron, 23, from Sydney, shares the story in her own words.

Music blared from the speakers as my housemate, Sami, 28, and I danced around the living room.

We’d met a year earlier and bonded over our love of alternative music.

So when I saw that the Burdekin Hotel in Sydney was hosting an emo-music themed event in July 2018, I knew we had to go.

‘It will be so much fun,’ Sami said when I told her.

In the days leading up to the party, it was all we could talk about.

Sami even took the day off work so we could get ready together.

That afternoon, we curled our hair and applied make-up.

Then we met up with some other friends, Franz, 27, and Amy, 25, before heading to the club together.

At around 1.30am, Sami, Franz and I headed out to the smoker’s lounge for a cigarette. That’s when I noticed Franz’s ex, Jessica, standing at the opposite end of the balcony.

Although I’d never met her before, I recognised her from photos that Franz had posted on social media just a few months earlier.

I didn’t know much about her, but I’d heard she’d recently released some rap music.

‘I think that’s Jackel,’ I whispered to Sami, referring to Jessica’s rap stage name.

Just seconds later, I felt a tap on my shoulder.

Turning around, Jessica’s new boyfriend Reece was towering over me.

‘Do you have a problem, s–t?’ he spat.

Lauren Cameron scarred by plastic cup
I had 16 stitches

Turning away, I didn’t want any trouble.

Behind my friends, I could see Jessica standing around two metres away.

She was holding a red plastic cup in her hand as if she was about to launch it in my direction.

Realising, I turned trying to protect myself.

But it was too late.

The cup was hurled with such force it hit my face, slicing my lip completely open.

Immediately, hot blood poured down my neck and onto my clothes.

It’d also splattered onto my friends who’d been standing around me.

‘We’ve got to get you to the bathroom,’ Sami insisted as she pulled me inside.

By then, Jessica and her boyfriend had disappeared.

As adrenaline coursed through my body, I couldn’t feel any pain.

But when I saw my reflection in the mirror, I barely recognised the person staring back at me.

My lip had split from my mouth to just under my nose, and blood continued to gush out of the wound.

I tried to use paper towels to stem the flow, but the blood just soaked through.

‘I need some fresh air,’ I muttered, feeling faint at the horrific sight.

So Sami took me outside where a security guard organised a ride to hospital.

Sitting in the back seat of the taxi, my body began to shake uncontrollably and my lip started to throb.

Suddenly, the shock of what happened hit me.

The attack had been completely unprovoked.

Replaying it, I shuddered at the thought of my bloodied face in the mirror.

It felt like a bad dream.

But as I touched my hand to my mutilated lip, I realised that I was going to be scarred for life

Lauren and Joshua
My boyfriend Joshua and me

I’m only 22, I thought sadly.

Working as a legal secretary for a law firm, I worried what people would think when they saw me.

‘My face is ruined,’ I cried.

When I saw a nurse, she confirmed my worst fears.

‘I’m not going to lie, it’s a nasty cut and it’s going to scar,’ she said.

I burst into tears.

Thankfully, just an hour later, I was assessed by a plastic surgeon who was able to operate immediately.

After receiving 16 stitches, I was free to go home.

But for the next week I’d have to drink all my meals through a straw to avoid stretching my lip.

The following day, I went to the police to make a statement.

Soon after, I was informed Jessica Aitchison and Reece Barry Mobbs had been arrested.

In November this year, the pair appeared at the Downing Centre Local Court, Sydney, where they claimed my horrific injury had been caused by another patron at the club.

But magistrate Joan Baptie said their evidence was ‘implausible, improbable and unreliable’.

Lauren Cameron
I’m determined to not let this stop me going out

Jessica, 27, was found guilty of reckless wounding and Reece, 29, pleaded guilty to common assault.

He was handed an intensive corrections order for a period of eight months, while Jessica was sentenced to 18 months in jail. She immediately appealed against the severity of the sentence and was granted conditional bail.

Now, 18 months on from the attack, I’m a completely different person.

I’m too afraid to go out at night in fear of bumping into Jessica and Reece, and big crowds can overwhelm me.

I still can’t bear to look at myself in the mirror.

Before leaving the house, I’ll cover my face in heavy make-up and bright lipstick to try and hide the scar.

Recently, my friend Elise told me I should embrace it.

‘It’s your story,’ she said, encouraging me not to hide.

So I’m speaking out to show people the impact a split second decision can have on others and that violence won’t be tolerated in our community.

While it may take time, I’m determined not to let it stop me from living my life. After all, you only get one.

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