Dating violence victim still struggling 11 years after attack

A young woman brutally attacked in 2009 is seeking help paying her medical bills. A local nonprofit is stepping in to help.

“I’m at the point where I’m trying to get a full grasp on my life,” Tayler Mack said.

People can’t tell Tayler Mack lives with physical and emotional scars every day. She doesn’t talk about them often.

“A friend, she asked me a question, what would your life be like if 2009 never happened?” Mack said. 

When she was 14, her boyfriend attacked her in Lake County, stabbing her more than a dozen times. He then set her on fire, leaving her to die.

A judge sentenced him to 30 years in prison. She’s struggled to get her life back on track ever since.

“I feel like I let myself down because I hadn’t done any of the things I had initially set out to in my life,” Mack said. “I would’ve graduated college already, been in my career.”

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Surgeons removed her left ear after it was badly burned in the attack. To this day, she has chronic kidney issues. She’s had more than 20 reconstructive surgeries and faces more.

“I always try to be like Superwoman or Wonder Woman and try to figure it out myself and that’s what I have been doing, but now I’m at a point where I’ve been starting and stopping my life,” Mack said. “I’m like, I can’t keep going on draining myself.” 

She’s telling FOX 35 her story because she needs help. 

Mack is 25 and no longer on her parent’s health insurance. She works three jobs to make ends meet but faces a mountain of medical debt.

Surgeries kept her from finishing college. On top of all that, she goes to court several times a year as her attacker appeals his conviction.

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“I don’t want it to be like he had the final say, like okay she didn’t die, but she still essentially has failed in life she hasn’t done anything for herself,” Mack said.

A friend recently set up a GoFundMe for Mack, telling her story. It inspired Jeff Brown and the Hometown Heroes Alliance.

“She needs the help,” Brown said. “This is a part of our law enforcement family. She’s a little bit older. She’s an adult, but she’s still apart of the family and she’s struggling.”

Brown and his wife founded the nonprofit, which supports law enforcement officers hurt on the job.

Tayler Mack’s father is a lieutenant at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

The alliance partnered with another charity to help with her bills and get her back in school.

“She has to know that she has people behind her,” Brown said. “We’re going to help he in any way we can.”

Brown and Mack had never met before, so FOX 35 arranged a video chat between the two so they could speak to one another.

“That’s the goal,” Brown said to Mack during the meeting. “To let you know that you’ve fought hard to get where you are and we’re very proud of you. Even though we’ve just met, I’ve read the stories and I’m just so impressed that you’re continuing on and get your college done and make a great life for yourself.”

Mack thanked brown profusely.

“I do want people to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” Mack said. “So, the fact that now I’m seeing it myself, I can make it real for other people too.”

Mack says she plans to show her gratitude by finishing college. Her goal is to then open a shelter for domestic violence victims.

Click here for the fundraiser started for Mack.