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Health & Balance

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How I Escaped My Rapist

On the last night of her Italian vacation, ESPN exec Keri Potts went for a drink with a handsome artist. What could be the harm? She was about to find out. As told to Erin Zammett Ruddy.


His apartment, a sixth-floor walk-up, consisted of just a single room with a bed and TV, a small kitchen with a wooden table, and a bathroom. But the view from the patio was stunning. You could see the top of the Spanish Steps, the shimmering Roman skyline. Marco joined me there, and we talked about the places we'd traveled, places we still want to go to. It was like a scene from a movie. Just past midnight, we walked to a bar down the street.

At the bar, it got a little harder for me to understand Marco. He talked louder and louder, seemingly in circles. He continued to drink rum while I sipped a Pinot Grigio, and when the bar closed, he bought a bottle to go. I suggested that we go to the Spanish Steps, thinking it would be the perfect way to end the night, but he grumbled, "Turista, turista," and led me toward his apartment. I thought, Come on, Keri, lighten up. It's your last night in Rome.

When we got upstairs, Marco blasted music first something in Spanish and then Coldplay and moved around the apartment frenetically. He dropped a glass, grabbed some candles, changed the music. I stood on the patio, gazing at the postcard-worthy view. I thought, What an amazing way to end my vacation. What a story to tell my friends. Marco came out and stood behind me, noting that the views in Rome are better than in New York City. I playfully begged to differ, and he scoffed; there was something nasty in his expression. Then he thrust the bottle of rum toward me. When I refused, he walked away and returned with a glass. I wanted to be polite, so I pretended to sip, but I knew it was time to leave.

I walked into the apartment, placed the glass on the table, and told Marco I needed to head home. He had a small cigar box in his hand and offered me a hand-rolled cigarette from inside, presumably marijuana. "No. No, thank you," I said. Then he came around the table and stood in front of me. Mumbling something I didn't understand, he pulled me toward him and kissed my face hard, biting my lips. It hurt, and I tried to push away, but he held the back of my neck with his left hand, pressing my face to his. At the same time, he shoved his right hand down the front of my jeans, undoing my button in the process. I jerked back, but he put both hands on my lower back, pressing me into him. He shoved his hands inside my underwear, scraping me with his fingernails.

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