“It’s the only time I’ve felt that somebody could rip me out of the world that easily… I think it’s made me trust people less.”
These are the crushing words of 21-year-old Jessie, who was walking home in Melbourne’s suburb of Parkville when she was viciously attacked by a stranger.
Walking along Gatehouse St on March 28 about 2.35am after spending time at her friend’s place, Jessie said a man grabbed her from behind, tackled her to the ground and sexually assaulted her.
The young woman waived her right to anonymity in the hope it would help catch her attacker. Her decision came after a woman’s body was found on a nearby soccer field in Carlton North on Wednesday morning, over which a man was charged with rape and murder on Thursday. Police have not ruled out whether the two incidents are linked.
Jessie, originally from Washington DC, recounted the incident in a press conference.
“He was hitting me and punching me and kicking me and I was wearing a skirt and he managed to slip his hand up there and thankfully he ran off before things escalated,” she said, according to 9 News.
“It caught me really off guard, that’s the scariest part.”
Jessie, who moved to Melbourne on a working holiday visa in January, said she always felt safe walking around the city.
“Funnily enough I always told people how I felt so safe walking around here at all hours,” she said.
But now, the bartender is afraid to leave her house and spends a lot more money on taxis to get home safely.
“One of the first thoughts I had was this is the thing that everybody warned me about, that every woman gets told to look out for and I never thought it would happen to me,” she said.
Jessie told reporters how she fought off the attacker by screaming for help, which led to around 10 people coming to her aid.
“He was doing everything in his power to get me to stop [screaming],” she said.
“I think he just figured I’d been screaming for too long and somebody else might’ve heard me so he ran off.
Jessie said she was “terrified” throughout the ordeal.
“I felt like I was fighting for my life,” she said.
At the press conference, Detective Senior Sergeant Brendan Butland described the attacker’s behaviour as “disgraceful”.
“These sort of attacks, they are vicious attacks on a female just walking home,” he said.
“This type of crime should not occur.”
The attacker, who was seen wearing a blue or grey hoodie and grey jeans at the time of the incident, is estimated to be aged between 25 and 35 years old.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.