“You don’t ever recover from sexual assault, it is a life long sentence, mine has just been more widely discussed than most,” she said.

“Should I start with the nights of sleeplessness … the fear of the dark … or jumping when the phone rings wondering if they’ve found him?

“I will never be able to truly convey the impact of being captured and deprived of my liberty.

“By the time I was in his vehicle I was picturing my own grave site.”

The woman, now aged in her 40s, is recalling the difficulty of listening to lawyers during the trial “cooly discussing” whether Edwards meant to kill her that night.

“My youth was taken from me for no reason,” she said.

“I also felt what was taken from me was my home … Claremont was just simply my world, it had been where I grew up, went to school, where I socialised, it was my complete childhood and it was where I felt safe.”

She said she is determined the attack will not let her define her and labelled Edwards a coward for denying his crime for decades.

She said she constantly had to fight to leave a normal life after the attack.

“You need to constantly pull yourself together every time you were triggered for 25 years,” she said.

“It is exhausting and that has impact.”

She said her family and friends over the years felt guilty for not getting her home safely that night, but added that was no one’s fault but Edwards’.

“It affects anyone who knows you and cares about you,” she said.

“While all of this has happened to me I have never let it rule me,” she said, adding she made a choice not to be a victim anymore.

“There is power in realising the truth and you don’t have to prove it to anyone to find peace … and that’s the path I chose, but only with a lot of love and support,” she said.

She recalled how her family used to refer to Edwards as ‘the monster’ before his arrest.

“He is not a monster at all, rather the definition of a coward, he preyed on young and vulnerable women who didn’t stand a chance, how pathetic.

“He slipped through the cracks because he was so unremarakble.”

She said she would never forgive Edwards, speaking to him directly.

“I will find joy knowing you are locked behind bars without joy, without choice,” she said.

“They say you always remember your first, well in my case I consider my first victory is you, you have made me strong.

“I will live and you won’t and as one of the victims of your crimes I hope you are treated as well in prison as you have treated us.”

She said she hoped to move on now from this ordeal and live for herself and for the victims who are no longer here.



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