Many people have used some form of online dating or app. For some, it set them up with the partner of their dreams, but not all are so fortunate.
It’s not unusual to hear “horror stories” about bad dates and people who looked nothing like their photo. But for some, the horror is terrifyingly all too real, and sometimes deadly.
For Lexus Breeland of Juneau, Alaska, the final months of 2013 had shown some promise. She met Brian Hogan of Hillsboro, Oregon, through an online dating site and the two hit it off, even moving into a long-distance relationship with each other.
But according to Metro News, the mom of three was in for a terrible shock. In just six months’ time he “became controlling” and about a year after that, he physically assaulted Breeland.
The attack occurred after Hogan spotted her speaking to her male neighbor.
Breeland recounted what happened, “Brian punched me in the face and bit me on my arm. Afterwards, Brian jumped into the shower — so I fled the flat.” Despite the police arresting Hogan and Breeland obtaining a restraining order against him, Hogan “refused to leave her alone.”
For weeks Breeland was stalked by Hogan, who followed her and watched her apartment. Breeland explained how terrified she felt…and alone. “I reported him to the police but they couldn’t take action as he wasn’t directly contacting me.”
Shortly after that, Hogan made his move, bursting into her apartment while she was painting her nails. Breeland relived the horrific attack.
“He marched over and poured the nail polish remover into a bowl next to me. Dipping his fingers in the bowl, he grabbed a lighter and lit his hand on fire. He then grabbed the bowl and tipped the clear liquid onto my bare legs.”
She continued, “He told me: ‘If I can’t have you, no one can.’ Then he lit me on fire.” Fire Risk Assessment of Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, and Dorset made a video demonstrating just how highly flammable the liquid is, not even requiring direct contact with flame to be set ablaze.
Breeland acted quickly, trying to save herself. “Frantically, I rolled on the floor in an attempt to extinguish the flames. The pain was agonising. Thankfully the neighbours heard my screams and dashed to my aid.”
When police and paramedics arrived, Hogan was still on the scene and was treated for the minor injuries he sustained.
He also told authorities he tried to put out the flames on Breeland with his own body, but the lack of burn damage on his clothes revealed his lies. He was arrested and charged.
In the meantime, Breeland had suffered third and fourth degree burns over more than half of her body. She was kept sedated for weeks, with doctors preparing her parents for the worst. They didn’t think Breeland would survive.
But survive she did, and despite a finger amputation, multiple surgeries and a lot of scarring, she keeps a positive outlook. “Two years after the incident, Brian was released from prison. But I’m proud of who I am and how far I’ve come.”
She also had advice for other victims of domestic violence. “I felt like a monster but now my scars represent me. If you’re stuck in an abusive or violent relationship, please get out — seek help before it’s too late.”
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