LAS VEGAS -- Domestic violence took the lives of 17 people in Clark County last year. The Violence Policy Center ranks the Silver State first in the number of women killed by men each year.
Experts say the emotional wounds of domestic violence can take a lifetime to overcome. When physical scars won't go away, recovery is twice as hard.
Plastic surgeon Dr. Carl Williams is trying to make a difference - one patient at a time - in healing victims' wounds.
"I have never seen anything so personal as domestic violence that I have seen here in Las Vegas," Williams said. "Sometimes, it's stunning. I've been doing reconstructive surgery for over 25 years, and I have not seen the viciousness of what I have seen recently as far as domestic violence issues."
Williams says there's an epidemic in southern Nevada. His mother was a victim of domestic violence, and he sees parts of his own past in the patients he helps.
"I've admired most the strength a lot of these people have and how much hope they have and despite what they have suffered, they are still very idealistic and hopeful," Williams said.
Williams treats victims like Maria Gomez, whose was attacked with a machete. Her assailant also cut off her hands. Williams also treated Maria Robles and her son, who were stabbed more than a dozen times during a domestic violence attack.
"The funny thing about Maria (Gomez), she reminded me a lot of my mother - the spunk she had," Williams said. "She was about the same size. I think that's what stimulated a lot of what I could do."
Getting rid of the physical reminder can help the victims deal with the emotional pain, according to the doctor.
"It gives me some closure to a lot of issues I have personally, so it's not only therapeutic for the patients, it's so very therapeutic for me," Williams added.
The patients Dr. Williams helps are referred to him through Safe Faith United - an organization that helps domestic violence victims with recovery.
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