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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.


I ran at Marco full force with the palm of my right hand and struck him over and over in his face and mouth. I had taken a self-defense class in college and remembered that you should always hold your hand that way so you don't break any fingers. Then I pushed him harder than I've ever pushed anyone or anything in my life. He stumbled backward and fell onto the floor. Without hesitation, I ran and leaped over the patio wall, hoping to hit the balcony I'd seen below. But my sweater got stuck on the railing, and I just hung there. As I scrambled to get loose, Marco reached over and grabbed my neck, trying to pull me back up. I squirmed and kicked, and finally the sweater ripped. I landed on the small balcony below, crushing a potted plant.

I saw Marco turn and go back into his apartment, and I was sure he was coming for me. The only way I could get to an adjacent rooftop was to climb over a rusty, spiked, wrought-iron gate. I hesitated I was five stories up but then got a short running start, put my foot on the bottom rung, and swung my body up and over the gate, onto the next rooftop. Then I ran along the three-foot-wide ledge of the building and jumped to another roof, sliding down the mossy terra-cotta tiles until I was staring right over the edge at the street below. I had the fleeting thought that I was going to die, that I would slip and fall, break my neck, and no one not Lynn, not my parents would find me.

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.

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