“My name is Dana Vulin and I’m so glad to be alive. I’ve fought back through blood, tears and unimaginable pain. I’m supposed to be in the prime of my life, but I’m not.”
In February 2012 Dana Vulin was set on fire in her own home because of one huge misunderstanding. Natalie Dimitrovska was high on drugs and jealously when she entered Dana’s home, accused her of sleeping with her husband and then set her alight. 18 months on, Dana continues to undergo painful surgery but her spirit has not been broken. This is her story:
Dana Vulin once described herself as outgoing, loud, fun, wild, different and confident. She had just graduated from University as a 25 year old, with a Bachelor of Communications majoring in advertising. Dana was a wild child and liked to party a lot! She did take drugs, but in her Sunday Night exclusive she says that she was never a dealer, just a user. Dana was extremely confident and took a lot of pride in her appearance. She pulled a lot of attention from men and couldn’t go many places without being ‘hit on.’ Dana’s sister Svetlana says that Dana had two sides, her wild child and her generous side. Svetlana described Dana as being loving, loyal, fun and generous before the attack.
The chain of events leading up to the attack began at a New Years Eve party in 2011. Dana chatted with a man named Edin Handanovic for about half an hour that night, but she says that nothing happened between them even though he told her that he was divorced from his ex wife Natalie Dimitrovska. In the weeks following this Dana had met Edin a second time, but again nothing happened. This time Natalie was furious, she wanted to get back with Edin and was not happy that he’d been seen talking to such a beautiful woman. Dana and Natalie had met before and they had many mutual friends so Dana was shocked when she realised how angry Natalie had become.
Their next encounter happened on Australia Day of 2012. Dana received a phone call from an angry Natalie saying that she was back with Edin. She was saying some abusive words, swearing and making horrible death threats. These phone calls increased in the weeks following this, the threats just getting worse and worse.
On the 16th of February at about 6am, Dana was sleeping in her apartment in Perth when she was awoken by Natalie and her male friend breaking in – they were both high on crystal meth. Dana stood up and headed for the door to get them to leave but instead the pair lit up the meth lamp and began making threats. “Tell me where he is or I’ll light you on fire,” Natalie said. Natalie was certain that Dana had been having an affair with her husband and thought that she’d know where he was. Before Dana could answer, Natalie took the bottle of metho and threw it over Dana. Then she threw the meth lamp at her which has a constantly burning flame. Natalie and her fellow male partner watched as Dana’s body was engulfed in flames, and all they did was laugh and walk out.
Dana was immediately emerged in overwhelming pain – she was a human fireball. She ran into the kitchen and put a bucket of water over herself, but it didn’t ease the pain at all. She screamed for help which was heard by a neighbour who called 000. Another neighbour took Dana into her shower and put her under the running cold water. Dana said “It was cold and every drop felt like acid burning into my skin.” The ambulance arrived and drove Dana the short 4 minutes to Perth Hospital where she was put into an induced coma.
At the time, Dana’s sister Svetlana heard a radio report about a blonde girl in her mid-20’s, being set on fire in Riverdale, Perth. She feared the worst and drove straight to Dana’s apartment where she found police cars and detectives everywhere. Dana’s Mum found out the hard way, she was at work at the same hospital Dana was taken to. “I couldn’t even recognize my own daughter.” Mrs Vulin said.
A report came in and the police immediately knew who they were looking for. They tracked Natalie Dimitrovska’s phone calls and 8 days later they heard her telling her brother that she was on the way to the airport – she was fleeing the country. Police rushed to the airport and arrived there before Natalie, arresting her on the spot. Natalie denied absolutely everything but was proven guilty in court and was later sentenced to 17 years in jail for grievous bodily harm – the longest sentence ever for that offence.
Although Dana’s family were relieved that her attacker had been caught, they still had to face the fact that Dana might not wake up. But 10 days after the attack Dana awoke, however she was not in a good way. She was unable to walk or move and had to be fed by her own mother once again. For the rest of her life, Dana’s skin is unable to protect her at all and she will continue to overheat constantly as she is unable to sweat. Dana has to deal with this for the rest of her life. She should having the time of her life at such a young age but instead she will be having treatment until the day she dies.
Natalie’s jealousy has completely ruined a young, beautiful girl’s life. Dana will never be able to forget what happened to her, she is scarred on the inside as well as outside. Mrs Vulin says “Dana was burned because she was so beautiful.” We are approaching two years since the attack but Dana’s spirit has not been broken. She is more determined than ever to recover as much as possible and inspire everyone else around the world.
Before and after the attack.