Woman embracing life after brutal random attack
BELLY dancing and trivia nights have been things Leanne Brooks put off for some day in the future.
But after a vicious assault, Leanne is seizing every day and living life with a whole new outlook.
The Rockhampton woman, 48, was dragged from her car, chased down a street and brutally beaten with a brick bolster in a terrifying random attack in July.
Leanne had parked her car and was checking phone messages when she was set upon by a woman who is now in custody.
It was viral phone application Pokemon Go which saved Leanne, with a man playing the game nearby hearing her cries for help.
Leanne was left with bleeding on the brain, four staples to the back of her head, seven staples to the front, six stitches in her face and bruising.
The resulting scar left Leanne deeply conscious of her looks, but a Central Queensland photographer has helped her recovery with a makeover and portrait session four months on from the shocking incident.
Leanne said the photoshoot, donated by Kandee Apples Boudoir Photography, made her feel she could "look normal again".
"I know that's a horrible thing to say about yourself, but I'm very conscious of the scar now and to have photos that look like I used to look, it was a boost to the confidence," she said.
When a close friend nominated Leanne for the shoot, she was apprehensive about having close up shots of her face given the extent of her injuries.
"Lots of people say to me at times 'I can hardly notice it', but I know it's there and I know it's there all the time," Leanne said.
Leanne said Kandee Apples owner Kerri Le-Strange "did an amazing job" and made her feel special again.
Since the attack, Leanne has been trying to regain some sense of normality, although this too is something she has been evaluating.
"Normal is not a word that I use any more, because what is normal?" she said.
"I think the biggest thing has been the family support and the friends that have been there throughout it all.
"They're fantastic friends who couldn't believe how well I was handling it while they were crying.
"I've moved on. Knowing she is in custody and not able to hurt anyone else is a very big relief."
Leanne said the incident had undoubtedly changed the way she viewed life, from a positive view to seizing opportunities to becoming more aware of the fragility of life.
As was her usual routine, Leanne had called both her children on the way home from work.
Neither answered, but looking back on the day Leanne said they could have been her last conversations.
"I'm a little bit more apprehensive and a little bit more aware of my surroundings (after the attack)," Leanne said.
"It's a shame because I shouldn't have to feel like that and Rockhampton isn't that sort of place.
"I have always felt comfortable here and I hate that I have that little uneasiness about my surroundings now.
"But you get on with life and you do what you do and it's with the strength of others I keep going on.
"I get out more and I do a lot more.
"I'm probably more of a social butterfly now because I don't want to miss anything, just in case."
Leanne thanked the community for their assistance, as well as the emergency services personnel and hospital workers involved in her recovery.
She hoped people would be more aware of their surroundings, but urged them not to be fearful of Rockhampton.
"We shouldn't have to be like that in our town," she said.
"Give everybody around you a big hug, because you just don't know when you'll get to hug them again."