The 24-year-old heard steps behind her, then everything went black. Seventeen years later, her body shows what she went through.
Katja Romanovskaya is a beautiful, confident woman. Anyone who meets her or sees pictures of her would think that the 41-year-old has the perfect life. But one day she posted something on Facebook that revealed a horrible secret from her past.
On May 24, 2000 Katja's life was changed forever. At the time she was living in Maykop, a city in southern Russia. Katja was on her way home when she was suddenly approached by a strange man. He tried to make conversation with her but Katja wasn't interested so she ignored his advances and continued on her way. But when she entered her apartment building, she heard quick steps coming up behind her. She looked back and saw the young man who had accosted her now running at her with a knife in his hand!
The next two minutes were the most horrible of Katja's life. The man attacked her without warning and began stabbing her repeatedly. Katja tried to escape but the attacker wouldn't give up. Fortunately a neighbor heard Katja's screams and came to see what was happening.
When the attacker saw the witness, he fled the scene. Katja was brought to the hospital where the extent of her injuries soon became terribly clear — she had nine stab wounds and her abdomen had been slit open. The young woman was lucky to still be alive. When Katja woke up after an operation, she could hardly move. She had huge scars and her whole body was in pain.
Yet despite the horror of the attack, Katja admitted later that the worst part came afterwards.
Along with her physical scars Katja was also left with deep psychological ones. After the attack she lived in constant fear and for good reason — her attacker was never found. She suffered from nightmares and panic attacks and hardly dared go out in public. With time her body healed, but in her mind she relived the horror every day. Six months after the attack she was still completely traumatized.
Her family and friends were there to support her, but some were unknowingly making things worse. Katja couldn't stand it when they said things like, "You poor girl. You were so beautiful. Now these scars. Have them removed." But Katja had a better idea that surprised everyone.
Katja realized that she couldn't escape the nightmare and that she would have to come to terms with her fear. She decided not to let it ruin her life. Instead, she moved to Moscow and started a new life, one she is now very proud of. A very big part of this new life was getting together with some very clever people to develop a new kind of safety device that would help women if they found themselves in dangerous situations.
After years of research and development, they finally introduced their new device in 2016. It's called "NIMB" and it's a very special kind of ring. The device contains amazing technology that enables the wearer to call for help by simply pressing a small button on its underside. Katja had organized a donation campaign to fund the project and the results are quite extraordinary.
The team introduced "NIMB" in this video that explains what inspired the impressive new device and how it works:
Katja summed up her feelings about her life since the attack in this Facebook post:
"I am a crime survivor, not a crime victim. I have no idea what kind of person I would be without these scars. I had to learn to write with my left hand, to go out without fear. I've seen how much my family and friends are there for me. Strangers donated their blood to me. Medication was flown in, nurses stayed awake for entire nights. Hundreds of people did all they could for me. All to save one average girl."
Katja's story has touched millions of people around the world. Some have criticized her for "profiting" from her scars, but most people simply see what's there: a very brave woman. One thing is for sure, Katja is definitely a survivor. And if her "profiting" means saving other women from the same horror she suffered, then it's a profit well-earned.