When I think back to some of the news stories that have really touched me over the years, Naomi Oni’s story stands out.
Back in December 2012, Oni left work at a Victoria’s Secret store.
She was walking back home when a jealous friend hellbent on ‘destroying her looks’ threw acid in her face.
Mary Konye at the time, 22, disguised herself in a Muslim veil and stalked Oni, 21, from her job back to her Essex home.
The dignified way Oni conducted herself during this horrific incident was nothing short of inspirational.
Despite being so young, the way she bravely showed her scars in her quest for justice and to warn others made me reach out to her personally.
It really felt like she could be one of my friends or family members. She wasn’t bitter or angry and her beauty shone from the inside out.
Now the brave acid attack survivor has vowed to keep posting selfies to her more than 10k followers.
She refuses to let what happened to her destroy her confidence any longer.
Miss Oni retrained as a make-up artist and learned to ‘love the person I am.’ She regularly posts defiant selfies on social media to inspire other victims.
Oni’s childhood friend, Konye, doused the now 25-year-old with concentrated sulphuric acid, leaving her scarred for life.
She was left wracked with depression and anxiety.
Miss Oni explained that for Konye trying to ruin her face was the ‘ultimate thing she could do’.
Miss Oni said her attacker was ‘obsessed’ with her, attempting to steal her boyfriend before deciding to ‘destroy her.’
Speaking in 2014, Oni said that Konye copied her clothes and hairstyle. She even went as far as to mimick the way she spoke, laughed and walked.
Oni told The Sun: ‘If I wrote texts, spoke, laughed or walked in a certain way, she’d do that too. And she’d say “I look just like you, don’t I?”
‘If police hadn’t caught her, I’m sure she would have gone on to kill.’
Oni, who lives in South London, went back to her job at Victoria’s Secret after the attack. But she worked in the stockroom instead of the main floor due to insecurity about her looks.
‘There are low times but I am trying to get on with it,’ she told the Daily Mirror.
‘I realized I had to stop feeling sorry for myself, I have got to a stage where I have got to know myself and I love the person that I am.’
Refusing to hide her scarred features, Miss Oni said she was ‘determined’ to get back on social media.
‘Posting selfies was liberating. It was reaffirming to get the comments and likes.’
‘I do it to inspire people and show no matter what people are going through, they can overcome.’
Miss Oni, who has been single since the attack, is still in the midst of a long recovery.
She is due to have a fifth round of laser surgery next week. She has even had skin from her knee removed and grafted onto her face.
Oni has had her eyelids replaced and last year had skin on her scalp extended so that her hairline could be pulled forward.
In 2014 Mary Konye was sentenced to twelve years in prison.
Judge Radford told Konye: ‘The consequences of your deliberate and wicked act have been devastating for Miss Oni, causing her terrible pain and physical injury.’
‘The result of your offence, as you must have foreseen, was life-changing injuries.’
‘This was wholly premeditated criminality against a person who reasonably believed that you were her true friend.’
Naomi says she is glad that her former friend got a long prison term but adds that it doesn’t change what happened.
She told Closer: ‘When I saw my face, I couldn’t stop crying. I thought, “Who’s going to want to marry me like this?” I felt so low, I didn’t want to live.’
Naomi is now set on pursuing a career within the fashion and beauty industry.