SALT LAKE CITY — She had just been pummeled in the back of the head without warning with one giant blow.
A man with a knife then started punching her and attempted to slash and stab her.
"There was almost a point where I was like, 'It would almost be easier to just die,'" recalled the 40-year-old woman. "(But) I'd be damned if I was going to let that (expletive) take me away from my sister and my mother and my friends and my family and put them through (that pain).
"And I told my sister I would fight until the last drop of blood in my body to save them from that."
Tuesday, one week after she was attacked in an alley between the Salt Lake Main Library and a popular downtown restaurant, the woman spoke out in an effort to prevent the same thing from happening to someone else, and to solicit help from the public to find her attacker.
The woman, still shaken about what happened, asked that her name not be used.
About 8 p.m. on March 19, a woman started walking home from the library and took the alley behind Faustina Restaurant, 454 E. 300 South, where many restaurant patrons park. Out of nowhere, she could hear someone running up behind her.
"My first thought was, 'Somebody is late for their dinner date.' So I moved to the right to get out of the way. That's when I felt a hit on the back of my head that felt like a baseball bat."
Initially, police said the incident appeared to be an attempted purse snatching. But the woman was not carrying a purse. She was carrying a backpack with books and notes, which she threw and told the attacker he could have.
"I was fighting for my life. There wasn't a purse or anything. If I hadn't fought, I'd be dead. He wasn't going for a purse, he wasn't mugging me. I threw the bag, he didn't go for it. He was out to kill," she said. "He kept circling and punching me and stabbing me. He was mainly going for my eyes and my throat."
The worst part, the woman said, was that the man didn't say a single word during the entire attack.
"He was like a robot that was programed to kill."
She said she screamed at him, "'Why are you doing this?' There was no response. I never even heard him breathing heavy like out of exertion. It was so inhuman."
After attempting to fight the man off and failing, the woman said all she could do was scream as loud as she could.
"It was like when you have a dream and you're trying to run and you feel like you're in slow motion, or you're trying to fight and your arms are like molasses," she said. "I was screaming at the top of my lungs, but it felt like nobody could hear me, that I wasn't screaming loud enough."
The man tried to shut the woman up by stabbing her through her cheek. The blade of a "cheap steak knife" penetrated into her mouth, she said, noting that she got a better view of the weapon than of her attacker.
But the woman said she wouldn't stop screaming. And the man finally ran away.
Bleeding from her face, with additional cuts to her neck and defensive woulds to her arms, she stumbled into Faustina for help. She initially feared her jugular had been cut. Inside the restaurant, employees put her on a couch and called 911. A doctor who was eating there that night also jumped up to assist.
The woman said she had never seen the man before. She suspects he was just waiting for the first person who walked by. And if not her, it could have been a waitress after work, she said.
She believes the man was having some sort of "psychotic episode" based on the way he was acting. She described him as being between 5 feet 8 inches and 5 feet 10 inches tall, in his mid 30s to mid 40s, very thin with short brown — possibly wavy — hair. He also had a scruffy face.
While her wounds look better than they did a week ago and the swelling has gone down, the woman on Tuesday still displayed visible signs of her violent attack. She said the area where she was attacked is usually safe and often full with college-aged people on any given night.
Although she still goes outside, the woman admits the attack has left her with trust issues.
"Every time I go outside, every male I look at, the first thing that goes through my head is, 'That's not him, that's not him, that's not him, that could be him, that might be him.'"
She knows she'll probably "jump" the next time she hears someone running up behind her.
But she insists she won't let the attack make her live in fear. In fact, she said, the incident has given her a higher self-respect and made her realize what a strong person she actually is.
Salt Lake police on Tuesday said they had no suspects or motive in the case. Anyone with information is asked to call police at 801-799-3000.
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