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CommonHealth: Stabbed By A Stranger, A College Student's Long Road Back19:29
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Annie Ropeik (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Annie Ropeik (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Today many of us are once again trying to process a senseless act of brutal violence in America, as the news pours in of more than a dozen people gunned down in a Denver movie theatre. For most of us, it's the latest headline about tragic events that happen to other people. But the reach of random violence is precisely that - random, unknowable. Often it's far away, but sometimes it's frightfully near.

Annie Ropeik is a former intern who worked here at Radio Boston. When Annie came to work for us, she was about to graduate from Boston University. She's a bright, eager young woman with one physical characteristic that was hard to miss: she walked with a limp and used a cane.

Most of us didn't know why, and we didn't ask. But at the end of her internship, the staff took Annie out to lunch. That's when she told us what happened to her two years ago just outside of NPR headquarters in Washington D.C., where she had a summer internship. Here's how Annie described what happened:

One morning, as I was walking to work, I was stabbed four times in the back and neck by a mentally ill stranger.

It was Aug. 4, 2010. I was 20 years old, a rising junior at Boston University, and I was a block away from my internship at NPR. I was not robbed; the attack was unprovoked. I was just unlucky.

I had stopped on a street corner to wait for the light when I felt someone pulling my hair. A woman — my attacker — had come up behind me. We struggled, and I stumbled and fell. I found myself lying on the street, on my back, with blood streaming from a wound in my neck.

One of the stab wounds reached her spine, severing nerves and impairing her ability to walk. She spent five weeks in the hospital and was forced to spend a semester away from school.

Annie is still recovering from the attack, working regularly with a team of physical therapists, and she's chronicling her progress on WBUR's CommonHealth blog. She recently returned to the site of the attack, where she described what happened, and what came next.

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This segment aired on July 20, 2012.

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