Belfast Telegraph

Woman jumped on my face and her six-inch heel tore into my eye - now I’ve rebuilt my life and I want to help others do the same

By Allan Preston

After suffering a brutal attack 11 years ago that left her with permanent double vision, Dublin woman Suzanne Devitt has struggled ever since to rebuild her life.

Last July, she moved to Lurgan for a new start after enrolling in a college course. To afford the move she lived in a tent for five weeks, but days before starting, she was devastated to be told a computer qualification she attained in the south did not make her eligible.

"There have been days when I just wanted to sit here and cry," she said.

Despite her difficulties, Suzanne (49) has now found a new purpose after setting up online support groups for visually impaired people across Northern Ireland. The aim is to tackle the social isolation those with visual impairment like Suzanne can experience, and informing members of local events such as walking trips.

She initially set up a Facebook page for Armagh and was soon asked by the RNIB charity to create groups for all six counties in Northern Ireland.

Members make use of voiceover software to hear the updates.

Suzanne is now hoping to start evening classes to work towards her goal of becoming a disability assistance officer for college students.

She recounted how the horrific attack in Roscommon 11 years ago changed her life.

"I was out on New Year's Eve and this girl on drink and drugs stood on my face, and jumped on it with her six-inch stiletto heel," she said.

"It tore through my left eye, leaving me with double vision and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I lost about five years of my life after that. I got really depressed and I didn't want to cope."

Suzanne's injuries still cause her to see double, making everyday obstacles like steps hard to navigate. To help, her 21-year-old son Stephen moved to Lurgan this week and sold his Playstation to pay for his mum's internet costs to allow her to continue the support pages.

"If I can reach one person and help them I'm happy," she said.

"If I can get over the problems with my sight that happened 11 years ago, if I can get back out and retrain and attain my goals, so can you."

The support pages can be found on Facebook by searching the county name followed by 'visually impaired persons' - for example, 'Armagh visually impaired persons.'

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