GIRLFRIEND OF THE WEEK: 73 year-old Rape Survivor is No Victim

Last week, college professor and avid birdwatcher, Eric Ozawa, found a badly beaten 73 year-old woman sitting on the ground in New York’s Central Park and motioning him over. She had been raped. After the attack, the woman told ABCNews.com, “He pushed me into the dirt on my face, and he said, ‘You stay there. You count to 100.” Instead, she pulled herself together and reached out to Ozawa to call 911.

“She wanted to speak to the police. She was ready to do that,” he said. “She was incredibly lucid and together, given the circumstances.”

According to the ABC story, “Ozawa said the woman was not crying or panicking, and he thought she may have been in shock.”

She suffered a broken finger and a fractured eye socket. She is bruised and she has two black eyes. The man that attacked her has a history of violence toward women. As a teen, he agreed to a plea deal for the rape and murder of an elderly neighbor, Annie Parks, 86. That deal was rejected by prosecutors and he was later acquitted during a trial. Months later he was arrested for a home invasion and sexual assault of another woman in her seventies. According to ABC, “he served eight years for the robbery charge and the sexual assault charge was dropped as part of a plea deal.” After he was released, he was again charged with kidnapping and continues to be a person of interest in another woman’s murder.

The 73 year-old survivor of the Central Park attack later picked her attacker, David Mitchell, out of a line-up. He is a frightening figure. And yet, his horrific attack was not going to define his survivor or keep her from returning to the park and her beloved birdwatching.

She was clear in her resolve, “It’s majestic, it’s very soothing and I’m not going to stop,” she said. “Nobody is going to take that pleasure away from me. This was just one animal.”

No doubt there will be difficult days ahead, but her strength is inspiring. Sending GIRLFRIEND prayers to this remarkable woman.

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