CHICAGO (CBS) — For the first time, a Willowbrook woman who was brutally attacked and sexually assaulted in her home is speaking out.

Typically, news media don’t identify victims in cases like this, but, as CBS 2’s Mai Martinez reports, Melissa Schuster wants to share her story publicly to help others.

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Surrounded by her family, Schuster talked about surviving an attack that’s left her scarred physically and emotionally.

“The strength just came. I don’t know where it came from, but I knew I wasn’t going to give up and I was determined and here I am today,” she told reporters on Friday.

“Talking about it really helps me a lot and gives me more of a peace.”

It’s a story Schuster wasn’t sure she’d get to share after being sexually assaulted, beaten and stabbed more than 17 times, allegedly by 31-year-old Londale Madison.

“He had let me upstairs and he wanted me to rinse off from all the blood and I remember standing there thinking to myself, ‘This is it. I’m not gonna make it. I’m going to die.'”

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“That’s when all of a sudden in my head I said, ‘I’m gonna make it to my neighbor’s house. I’m going to find a way and I’m gonna make it there.’ The next thing I know, I was sprinting through my front yard, across the street, and on my neighbors driveway and in their house.

“I defeated him. I took him down. He may have tried to do whatever he could to me, but ultimately in the end, I won.”

“In the end I’m walking away alive, and I get to be with my family. I get to go back to my life and I’m incredibly thankful for that.”

Madison was arrested four years ago and did time on a burglary conviction, authorities said.

Londale Madison (Credit: St. Joseph County Sheriff)

Londale Madison (Credit: St. Joseph County Sheriff)

He recently wrote on his Facebook page: “Some of u don’t know me because I been locked up for three years and now I’m back to show u exactly who I am.”

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Bond for Madison was set at $5 million on Friday. Prosecutors say he has confessed to the attack.