The victim of a brutal sexual assault confronted her attacker in court and told him: ‘I am not the victim, I’m the victor’.
Heidi Damon waived her right to anonymity to be allowed to be filmed in court unleashing her anger as her attacker Javon Cooper was jailed for 15 years after attempting to kill and rape her.
The 40-year-old told Cooper, 18: ‘I just want to tell you–and I want you to look at me when I address you–I woke up ecstatic today, happier than ever.
‘You know why? Because I’m alive. I’m alive, alive, alive.
‘You have not broken my spirit. You have not changed my belief in God. If anything, you’ve strengthened both. I am not a victim. I am the victor, the stronger and the winner.’
As Ms Damon spoke, Cooper, dressed in a prison issue orange jumpsuit, shifted uncomfortably and tried to avert his gaze from his victim.
Cooper had pleaded guilty to attempted murder and attempted sexual battery.
He was 16 when he pounced on Ms Damon in a multi-storey car park in Ybor City, Florida, in August 2009.
Cooper choked Ms Damon until she blacked out, and stripped her off her trousers and underwear.
Such was the force of the strangling that her eyes turned red and she was covered in bruises.
Ms Damon was out of work for a year and still suffers from chronic headaches. She told the court she is still afraid.
At his sentencing Ms Damon stood a few feet from her attacker as she lashed out at him.
She told him: ‘My desire to be all that I can be cannot be broken by you or anyone. I survived.’
She told Cooper that he will always be a boy, that a man could never do what he had done.
She said: ‘I will never forgive you because what you have done to me is never forgivable.
‘I contribute to my community. You help decay yours.
‘My life will never be the same. You know why? It’s going to be better than it was before.
‘My tears are out of joy,’ she told him. ‘Because I’ll never see you again. Ever.
‘Oh and by the way, I do have one more thing,’ she said. ‘My name is Heidi Elizabeth Damon. I have a name. I have a name that will go on forever.
‘You have a number and the title of the crimes that you’ve committed. Your name is Sex Offender, Attempted Murderer. Nice to put you away.’
Ms Damon said she agreed to waive her anonymity as she wanted to speak out for other ‘silent victims’ of rape.
She said: ‘I feel proud because I was able to stand there and get what I wanted out and articulate it without falling apart.
‘I’m satisfied with the fact that he’s going away. I’m ecstatic that I lived to tell the story, and he was caught and that I potentially saved someone’s life that day by being the one that was chosen to be attacked, and I lived through it.’
Cooper was jailed for 15 years and ten years probation.
The judge told him he would have liked to lock him up for life.