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El Pasoan survives acid attack in Hawaii, continues on healing journey

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- ABC-7 spoke one-on-one with the El Paso woman who survived an acid attack in Hawaii back in April.

El Paso native Davina Licon said she is still on her healing journey and feels hopeful despite the challenges she has faced throughout her recovery. 

Back on April 7th, the now 21-year-old was leaving the Mililani 24-Hour Hour Fitness when police said a masked man pointed a gun at her. Licon wasn't hit by a bullet, but police said the suspect then doused her in acid. 

"I just felt like a warm liquid was on me, but then it started burning, and I knew instantly it wasn't good. So I just sprinted into the gym because my survival instincts just kicked in and I ran into a gym, and I just told them to call 911 because my skin was burning."

Licon was rushed to the hospital and didn't wake up until a week later. 

"I just remember waking up and it felt like half of my face had melted off."

The Eastlake High School graduate suffered severe chemical burns on over 30% of her body. Licon suffered burns on her face, neck, arms, hands and lower extremities. She stayed in the hospital for nearly three months and underwent five different surgeries. Licon was forced to relearn how to walk and eat. 

She had been training for her first body-building competition. The attack happened two weeks before she was set to take the stage.

21-year-old Paul Cameron was arrested in connection to the attack. According to KITV, the ABC affiliate in Hawaii, a grand jury indicted Cameron for second-degree attempted murder and two felony firearm charges.

Cameron and Licon were friends, but she said Cameron wanted to be in a relationship with her and was very persistent. Licon had told him in February she only wanted to be friends since she was focusing on herself and the upcoming competition. 

"I didn't really want a boyfriend at all. And I guess he couldn't get that," she said. 

Licon said she knew Cameron was the one who was behind the attack. She still questions why he attacked her in the manner he did. 

"He just probably wanted to probably take my physical attraction away and I guess that was the easiest way for him to do it," she said. 

Licon said she would like to testify in court. 

"I hope he gets life in prison because he sent me to prison. I can't ever just go back to normal. So it's not fair if he gets to get out. So I just think he deserves life, especially because if they let him out again, you never know what like what girl comes next. And I wouldn't want anyone to have to go through this," Licon said. 

If Cameron is convicted, he faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole. 

The survivor said she is speaking out because she wants to raise awareness and help other victims of domestic violence. 

Courtesy: Davina Licon

She said she would eventually like to become a physical therapist to help other burn victims. 

Licon said she has also returned to the gym and hopes to compete in a body-building competition in the near future. 

"At first I thought how am I going to compete with all these scars? I'm basically showing my body off and that's like what they judge you on. But I've realized that's not all that matters, you know? It matters how much work you put into it. It just matters what you bring to the stage."

Licon and her family created a GoFundMe to help with medical expenses.  If you would like to donate, click here

If you are seeking help, the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence has a 24-hour hotline. Anyone can contact them at (915) 593-7300.

For assistance requesting a protective order, you can call (915) 273-3271.

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Rosemary Montañez

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