After a dark period, survivor of acid attack finds strength to go on

September 20, 2013

by Katie Mingle

(Photo courtesy of StoryCorps)
Hope Peralta and Anita Alvarez

In 2008, Hope Peralta was the victim of a brutal acid attack in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood.

Her attackers poured sulfuric acid on her and beat her with a baseball bat. Peralta underwent more than 20 skin-graft surgeries to repair the damage, and was left with disfiguring burns.

The attack was orchestrated by Ofelia Garcia and her former daughter-in-law, Maria Olvera-Garcia, who recruited some teens to attack Peralta. Both of the women had been previously involved with Peralta’s boyfriend.

In 2010, a jury convicted the women, who are serving lengthy prison sentences. 

StoryCorps’s mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to share, record and preserve their stories. This excerpt was edited by WBEZ.

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, whose office prosecuted the case, joined Hope in the Chicago StoryCorps booth to talk about the attack and her difficult road to recovery. Hope spent four months in the hospital after the attack.

Anita: You were actually put into a coma.

Hope: Induced coma, because the doctor says that the pain, it’s very, very painful ... no human can take it.

Anita: What were your initial feelings once you came to?

Hope: When I came out of the coma, I just remembered what happened, but I didn’t know the damage that was done. My family covered every single mirror, even in the bathroom in the hospital, so I didn’t know exactly how (horrifying) I’d look, until I got home and saw the mirror in the bathroom. 

Hope Peralta said she fell into a deep depression and attempted suicide twice. Click on the audio above to hear how she found the strength to keep going.

Editor's note: At the time of the attack, Peralta was known as Esperanza Medina. She's now using her maiden name, and has changed her first name to its English equivalent: Hope. 

Katie Mingle is a producer for WBEZ and the Third Coast Festival.