Coming to, I realised I was lying in a stairwell, naked apart from my bra.
Pain shot through me and I knew I’d been raped.
Some time later, a hotel cleaner found me, covered me with a coat and called an ambulance.
‘You’ve suffered some terrible injuries,’ a doctor said at hospital.
I had broken ribs, fingers and a bleed on the brain.
DNA evidence was gathered from my body, then Jeff appeared at my side.
His face was grey with shock and pain as he stroked my hand.
‘We’ll get through this, I promise,’ he whispered, tears in his eyes.
Doctors gave me drugs to prevent HIV and I was tested for STDs before giving a statement to the police.
Back at home, I suffered terrible flashbacks. I was too scared to leave the house and barely saw anyone.
To explain my injuries to the kids, Julia, 16, Spencer, 14, Mackenzie, 11, and Noah, eight, we told them that I’d been in a car accident.
Both Jeff and I were overwhelmed. Sometimes I’d hear him crying and shouting in the shower, tortured with guilt that he hadn’t been able to protect me.
Then, five weeks after the attack, I felt nauseous. Dragging myself to the doctor, a test confirmed it.
I was pregnant.
Jeff had had a vasectomy, so it meant I was expecting my rapist’s baby. But instead of feeling disgusted or scared, I felt in control for the first time since the attack.
I knew I wanted to keep the baby.
After so much trauma, a new life gave me something positive to focus on.
I called Jeff to tell him the news and he was totally supportive.
‘This is a gift,’ he agreed.
From then on, he was right beside me, coming to all the scans and carrying the pictures in his wallet.
Some friends and family were stunned by our decision, wondering how we’d be able to love a child who’d been fathered by a monster.
‘How will you cope if the baby looks like the rapist?’ they asked.
But we knew we were doing the right thing and every time I thought about my attacker, I would look down at my growing bump and feel a sense of calm.
In September 2014, Oliver* was born by C-section.
I bonded with him quickly.
He has the same big green eyes as me and looked nothing like my rapist.
All I felt when I looked at him was a deep, strong love.
The older kids welcomed Oliver, and he was a daddy’s boy, enjoying cuddles with Jeff.
I was, of course, still traumatised by the fact that my rapist was out there.
I’d often find myself in the supermarket, scanning faces, wondering if one of them attacked me.
Then, in July 2017, a police officer phoned.
‘Your rapist is dead,’ he said.
He explained that the man had raped and murdered two women after me – the DNA on their bodies matched the DNA on me.
But one of the victims’ relatives had tracked him down and stabbed him to death in revenge.
I was horrified for those poor women but relieved this man couldn’t do any more harm.
Our children now know how Oliver came into the world. Telling them was hard, especially explaining about the attack itself – they were distraught for me.
But they know we’ll always be open with them, and they have never had a problem with Oliver.
‘He’s our brother. It doesn’t matter how he came into the world,’ they said.
Of course, we’ve got difficult conversations ahead when we tell Oliver, now four, how he was conceived. But I’ll make sure he knows his biological father won’t determine who he is as a person.
We want him to know that we’ll be there for him and that we love him.
Oliver is a joyful kid who loves dinosaurs.
He has brought us so much happiness after such a dark time and he’s helped to heal us.
He’s not my rapist’s baby – he’s mine and Jeff’s and we love him unconditionally.
For rape support, call 1800 737 732 (Aus) or 0800 88 33 00 (NZ).