Lye victim Carmen Tarleton was in a hospital bed, burned, beaten and disfigured by her estranged husband with injuries that doctors called “the most horrific injury a human being could suffer,” as she had vivid dreams.
In one of the most memorable, dozens of doors stretched around her. “Life is a choice,” a voice said.
Tarleton carried that lesson with her through her ongoing, daunting and remarkable recovery after her ex broke into her Theftord home five years ago, beat her with a baseball bat and poured industrial-strength lye on her, burning most of her body.
Tarleton, who at age 44 continues to undergo surgeries and awaits a possible face transplant, has written a book that will be published in March called “Overcome: Burned, Blinded and Blessed.” She hopes it will speak to abuse victims and others.
“I think I can help a whole bunch of people, not just domestic violence people,” she said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. “I think I can help a whole bunch of people wherever you are in your life.”
Despite her suffering, she says she’s in a better place than she was before the attack.
“I’m so much more blessed than I was then,” she said.
The book starts with Tarleton’s decision at 28 to move across the country from her native Vermont to Los Angeles, with her two children in tow, to work as a nurse at a UCLA hospital. There she met Herb Rodgers, whom she eventually married. The family moved back to Thetford, where her marriage started to unravel — in part over Rodgers’ dishonesty, Tarleton said.
Tarleton recalls what she now says was a premonition. One evening when she was about to leave for her night shift at the hospital, her 12-year-old daughter was sobbing in bedroom. When she asked what was wrong, her daughter said, “Something really, really bad is going to happen to you.”
Eight months later, it did. Rodgers is serving a minimum of 30 years in prison for the June 2007 attack.
When she set out to write the book three years later with only limited vision in one eye, she stalled when it came time to explain what Rodgers had done to her that night. She had to coach herself through it.