Woman set on fire: "I want to fight" to live


A judge sentenced Michael Slager to 11 years Monday for a crime that defies comprehension: Dousing his ex-girlfriend Judy Malinowski with gasoline and setting her on fire.

More than 500 days after her attack, Malinowski remains at the hospital, fighting for survival.

Judy Malinowski has survived the unthinkable.

The mother of two says she was trying to get away from an abusive ex-boyfriend when he doused her with gasoline and set her on fire, leaving her disfigured and in physical pain every minute of every day.

Glenn McEntyre: What keeps you going, Judy?

Judy mouths: My girls.

Her mother Bonnie believes it was Judy's love for her daughters that helped pull her out of months of unconsciousness.

"I went and got pictures of her little girls, and I taped them above her bed, because I thought to myself, if she remotely wakes up out of this coma or knows anything of what's going on, or has any memory, the first thing I want her to see is those two little girls," said Bonnie. "And it proved to be true. I was thinking if anything will motivate someone to live, a mom will- being a mother will motivate you to take care of those two little girls."

Like Bonnie and Judy, those little girls, now 12 and 8, live daily with the consequences of their mother's condition.

Glenn: Have there been tough questions from them?

Bonnie: Mm-hmm. 'Do you promise that she's going to live? Do you promise me she's not going to die? When are they going to make her look like my mom again? Grandma, how is she going to braid my hair?' She's not. But what do you...it's about them too, they're little you know?

Though she lives for the hope of returning home to her daughters, Judy says also fears being an embarrassment to them.

Glenn: Why would they be embarrassed of you?

Judy mouths: The way I look.

With everything she has ahead of her- fighting just to stay alive, much less ever leave her hospital bed, we asked whether physical appearance matters to her.

"To her?" asked Bonnie, nodding yes. "She said, 'Mom, no one's ever going to marry me or love me. I'm going to be alone. I'm very scarred and disfigured. If I can make it through this,' she says, 'If I can make it through this.'"

If she can make it through this is still in question.

From the start, Bonnie says doctors have warned her that Judy will likely not survive her injuries. Setting up an emotional, complex struggle between medicine, and a mother's faith.

"I said to him, God decides who lives and who dies," said Bonnie. "And I'm not a violent person I promise. I just pointed this finger at him and I said, 'You will resuscitate her. You will do everything it takes to save my child's life. And if God says he's going to take her, he will. You don't get to make that decision!'"

Glenn: Your mother told us there was a point when doctors said she should let you go.

Judy nods yes

Glenn: What do you feel about that?

Judy mouths: I'm glad they didn't.

Glenn: Tell me why?

Judy mouths: Because I will still fight to have a life.

Through her pain and scarred skin, she shows moments of humor.

"Show him how I taught you to fight," said Bonnie. Judy put her arms up and jabbed playfully, smiling.

She also shows moments of flirtation, saying of a young male nurse. Judy mouths: "He's one of my favorites. He's cute too."

Reminders that trapped inside a blistered, broken body, is an alert, aware woman who is still alive.

In the last few weeks, Judy and Bonnie say they reached a wrenching crossroads.

Judy mouths: "I just felt like I couldn't live like this anymore. I was in so much pain."

"She wanted me to just let her go," said Bonnie. "And I said, no I'm not letting you go. We've fought too long and too hard. And that's when I had to take a step back with myself and say, she's really in a lot of pain. She needs retraction surgery. She can't move her body. Am I being selfish?"

But faced with the options of the end, or an endless fight, there are no easy answers.

Glenn: What conclusion have you come to about your future and what you want?

Judy mouths:"I want to fight."

Glenn: You're going to fight?

(Judy nods yes) "I'm going to be there to see both my girls graduate. I'm going to walk them down the aisle."

Prosecutors said in court Monday that if Judy succumbs to her injuries, they are prepared to charge Michael Slager in her death. Slager's family was in court.

They insist he didn't mean to hurt her and say that he loved her.

Judy said she wanted to share her story for one reason: to help other women in abusive relationships.

She says she wants women everywhere to hear her story, and hopefully, learn from it.

PART 1: "Find Help, Run": Woman set on fire shares message for abused women

PART 3: Woman set on fire: Attacker's punishment doesn't fit crime

To help Judy's family with the care of her daughters: https://www.gofundme.com/hope-and-help-for-judy

If you are in an abusive situation, in Columbus, call (614-224-4663).

Resources on what is domestic violence, warning signs, how to stay safe and more: www.choicescolumbus.org.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 http://www.thehotline.org/