I was born in Italy, but at six months old I was struck with poliomyelitis. It affected both of my legs and my left arm, leaving me disabled. I grew up in a convent with other invalids, mutilated children and polio victims. When I was twelve, I left Italy to immigrate to Australia with a family I hardly knew. I found it extremely difficult to adjust to a new family, way of life, and culture. Having been brought up by nuns my beliefs were about God, love, and acceptance.
My story is not like any other story: it is about the strongest survival you could think of.
I spent fifteen years of my life on the streets of Melbourne, disabled, bewildered, lost, confused and alone. Though I had a face of an angel, I had a body I didn't like at all. Inside though, I was unstoppable; I was determined, and that strength gave me the courage to keep going, no matter what.
I fell into a dark world that I called ‘Deepest Darkness’. For ten years I was raped, beaten, and surrounded by alcoholics and drug users.
At twenty-five I found a way out. Everything was new and I grasped it with both hands. It was time to make a change. It was time to find the real me—the real Lilla.
It took many years to rid myself of the other Lilla. She was strong minded, manipulative, and deceiving. But the new me was different. The me of today has blossomed into a world I’d never believed existed, a world I call ‘Beauty Beyond Darkness’.