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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.

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But I kept going. I jumped down to another roof about 10 feet below. My legs stung when I landed flat on my feet, but I didn't stop. I couldn't. I assumed Marco was chasing me, and I knew he'd have the advantage. I ran from rooftop to rooftop, crawling on my hands and knees at times to stay out of sight, trying desperately to get to street level.

Finally, I wound up on a balcony with nowhere to go next. I knocked frantically on a window there, and a man appeared. He said, in perfect English, "Please be quiet. My son is sleeping." I told him I was so sorry and explained, "I am an American. I have been attacked by a man and escaped by jumping down onto the rooftops. I am injured and need to get home. This man is trying to kill me. Can you please help me?" Thankfully, he understood. He said yes, he would help, but to hold on for a few minutes.

I waited outside  crouched in a ball  thinking the man was probably calling the cops. But then he appeared again and ushered me inside. "I don't know where this man is, but the way out of here is down the stairs and through the green doors," he said. "Push the button to get out." Then he told me how to get back to my hotel. An older man standing by the door in the apartment handed me a bunch of tissues as I hurried past him. I caught a glimpse of my face in a mirror by the door and saw that I was covered in blood. Marco had punched me in the nose during our scuffle, and I hadn't realized how bad it was.

I flew down four flights of stairs and ran toward the exit. I remember thinking Marco might be waiting for me on the other side, but what choice did I have? I took a deep breath, buzzed the door open, and ran for my life. I sprinted the four blocks back to my hotel, never looking back. When I reached the hotel doors, I turned around and pumped my fists in the air, Rocky-style. I had done it. I had gotten away from this monster. I ran up to my room and pounded on the door. When Lynn saw my face, she went white. "What happened?" she asked. "Marco just tried to rape me," I said. "But I won," I said. "I won." Then, for the first time all night, I started to cry. We both did.

I was supposed to be on a flight back to the States a few hours later, but I couldn't go. There is nothing that disgusts me more than rape, and I would have felt like a hypocrite if I didn't report Marco to the authorities. I was battered and bruised  and still scared he might find me  but I couldn't let him get away with his attack. So Lynn and I got to work, calling my health-insurance company, my sister, the U.S. Embassy, the hospital, the police, my boss at ESPN. About an hour later, I started shaking uncontrollably. Just before daybreak, we went to the hospital for X-rays (miraculously, nothing was broken) and then to the U.S. Embassy, which helped me start a police report and arranged for an interpreter to meet me at the police station.

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