I am always inspired by strong women who are able to turn obstacles into assets.
Whether it’s through art or by bravely speaking out, countless ladies have risen up in the face of setbacks. But when I heard Harley Dabbs’ touching story of pain and redemption from 2015, I was absolutely blown away.
At only 21 years old, Harley had been a victim of bullying for almost her entire life. Why? Harley looks a bit different than your average young woman, with a powerful story to match.
As a small child, tragedy struck Harley’s family: Their house caught fire, and Harley was badly burned as a result. Though doctors told her family there was a 98% chance Harley wouldn’t survive, she’s more than beaten the odds. She’s now living life on her terms.
Scroll through below to see this young woman’s inspiring tale of unbelievable courage and strength.
What do you think of Harley’s response to bullying?
[H/T: Daily Mail/Fox 8]
Harley Dabbs was born a beautiful baby girl to two proud parents. She lived a normal, happy childhood in Eden, North Carolina. But when she was just 3 years old, tragedy struck the Dabbs family.
Their home went up in flames.
“My mom was trying to catch up on some laundry, and I guess the wires got so hot, and they ended up catching on fire,” Harley told Fox 8. Though her parents were outside, Harley was trapped inside the house.
The little girl suffered burns on over 80% of her body and was told by doctors she only had a 2% chance of survival. But this little girl stunned the medical staff by not only surviving but thriving.
However, for the past 18 years, Harley had to make the pilgrimage to Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Cincinnati to undergo countless skin grafts and surgeries. Nonetheless, she believes in the divine intervention that saved her life.
“God allowed me to live,” Harley shares with the Daily Mail.
And luckily, she’s met other burn survivors just like herself.
“Shriners is my second home. I felt like I was another species, and it made me feel OK being there, because there were people who looked like I did — I actually felt like I belonged.”
But as she got older, Harley was tormented by cruel bullies and become incredibly depressed — and, at times, suicidal.
“I wouldn’t go anywhere. I wouldn’t leave my house,” Harley said. “If I did go somewhere, I would fully cover myself — no matter how hot it was outside. I’d wear coats and long pants.”
She knew she had to make a change. To physically mark her personal transformation, Harley got a tattoo of a phoenix rising from the flames with the words: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
She continues, “Now, I’m a warrior; I’m tough. I am who I am because I fought to be this person. I went through hell just to come out on top, and I will every time.”
More importantly, Harley wanted to share this powerful message with the world, so the young woman posted her story on Facebook. Since then, it’s received more than 8,400 “likes” and been shared over 1,400 times.
She tells the Daily Mail, “I hope my story will help others who battle with their scars or birth. No matter what, they can get through their tough times and will be OK.”
Harley also credits her loving boyfriend with giving her a positive outlook by supporting her through these difficult times.
She shares, “He makes me feel beautiful on the days I don’t think I am. And when I can’t be strong, he stays strong for the both of us. He’s definitely held me up — especially on my darkest days.”
And this incredible young lady has very big plans for the future:
“I hope to become a nurse and a motivational speaker. I’m supposed to help others, burned or not, realize they’re beautiful — regardless of what society portrays.”
She now fully views herself as the resilient phoenix drawn on her back.
Harley’s sharing her powerful story with the hope that other struggling teens can be reminded that they’re not alone and, most importantly, beautiful no matter what.
Harely’s willingness to speak out against bullying, and in favor of acceptance and self-love, truly shows the enduring power of positivity and the human spirit.
Were you inspired by Harley’s touching story? Let us know in the comments.
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