Melissa Dohme, from Florida, was only 20 when Robert Lee Burton brutally attacked her with a knife in January 2012.
Slashing her arms, face, hands and neck, Burton left the aspiring nurse fighting for her life.
After emergency services rushed to the scene, Dohme was airlifted to hospital, where surgeons had to resuscitate her several times.
The young woman suffered a stroke from loss of blood, as well as a broken jaw, fractured skull and facial paralysis from a severed nerve.
“Jealous” Burton, who had been violent towards Dohme in the past, is now serving a life sentence for the attack.
But Dohme thought that the harrowing incident would mark the end of her dating life.
“I assumed I would be single for the rest of my life,” she told the BBC. “I never thought anyone would want to date me because I was damaged and had all this baggage.”
But rather than allow the horrific assault to ruin her life, the brave college student decided to use her experiences to help other domestic violence victims.
It was at a speaking event in October 2012 when Dohme met Cameron Hill, one of the firemen who saved her life after the attack.
Dohme said she felt “giddy” when she and her mother had dinner with Hill, but she quickly realised it was more than gratitude when she “couldn’t stop thinking about him”.
The couple started dating soon after and Hill was by his girlfriend’s side in August 2013 when she faced Burton in court, who was sentenced to life without parole.
The pair are now set to marry following a grand proposal from Hill at a Tampa Bay Ray’s baseball game, where Dohme had been asked to give the first pitch.
“I was on the mound and there wasn’t a baseball there so Cameron came out of the dugout to hand me one. Written on the ball were the words: ‘Will you marry me?’,” Dohme, who now works as a domestic violence activist, said.
“I couldn’t speak for a moment as I couldn’t find the words. It was just really incredible knowing that he put so much effort in and to making this surprise special for me. And I just I felt very blessed and over the moon. Of course I said yes.”
The couple are set to tie the knot later this year.
“He’s been by my side through it all, helping me, loving me,” Dohme told Fox 13 News.
“I had to go through all this stuff that led me to find him. I wouldn’t want to go through what I went through again, but I also wouldn’t change it because it led me to Cameron.”