The victim of a brutal attack in a Chicago suburb last weekend left the hospital Friday and said in an emotional statement about the arrest of her alleged attacker that she "won."
"I defeated him," said Melissa Schuster. "He tried to take everything away from me but I won in the end. I did not give up."
Her nose fractured, her face covered in stitches and bruises, Schuster said she looked in the mirror for first time Thursday.
"It kind of broke my heart, I was almost in tears but then I realized it's just the beginning," she said.
Though NBC Chicago does not normally name victims of sexual assault, Schuster said she wanted her story heard because she "wanted to make a difference in someone else's life."
The 26-year-old was unloading groceries in the driveway of the home in the 700 block of 73rd Court at about 1 p.m. Saturday when a dark blue older model Nissan Altima pulled up, and that is when police say 31-year-old Londale Madison got out and approached her.
"All he asked me was, 'Can I have money?" she said. "And I politely said, 'I'm sorry, I don't have any money to give you.'"
She went inside and locked the door, but Madison later knocked and asked again. When she refused, he knocked the door down and attacked her, according to police.
After punching her repeatedly, Schuster says the man forced her to remove her clothes, and get into the shower – where he raped her.
“I remember standing there thinking to myself, ‘This is it. I’m not going to make it. I'm gonna to die,” she recounted.
He stabbed her over 17 times, before stealing her purse and cell phone and leaving her for dead.
“But then I told myself, ‘No, I’m not going to let this person overcome me.’” Schuster said. “I was terrified, but I was not going to give up.”
She managed to build enough strength to run to a neighbor's house.
"She was covered head to toe with blood," the neighbor said. "My husband put a blanket around her and ran outside to see if he could find who had done this to her."
Tips lead authorities to determine that Madison returned to Indiana after the attack. He was charged Wednesday with one count of attempted first degree murder, one count of aggravated criminal sexual assault, one count of home invasion and one count of armed robbery, according to the DuPage County state's attorney's office. All charges are felonies.
Just two weeks ago, Madison was cited in Indiana for violating probation, which he was granted after getting an early release from prison late last year. He received a 6-year sentence in 2012 for a felony burglary conviction in St. Joseph County.
If Madison is convicted on all charges, he faces a maximum sentence of up to 120 years in prison, according to the state's attorney's office.
"I want to see him put away for a very long time," Schuster said.
Madison appeared in court Friday where prosecutors say he confessed to the horrific crime.
Madison has already served time for charges that include felony, theft and battery. After attacking Schuster, police say he went to LaGrange approaching more people for money. He is also being questioned on child molestation charges.
Bond was set at $5 million dollars and he faces up 120 years in prison if convicted.
As for Schuster, her healing process moves forward with the hope of helping others.
"Talking about what happened is a relief, part of my recovery," she said. "I have been talking about it since day one."