JACKSONVILLE- It was April 19, 1989...Trisha Meili had no idea what awaited her after she went for her normal evening jog.
"I was beaten unconscious and bound and gagged with my running clothes and left for dead. I became known as the Central Park Jogger," she explains.
Her story was in the headlines day after day. Trisha was in a coma for weeks, suffered a traumatic brain injury and was expected to pass away, but amazingly survived.
Healing from her extensive physical injuries was one thing, but the emotional trauma she faced in such a national spotlight was completely different.
Healing and surviving after trauma is much of the focus of her book “I am the Central Park Jogger”. It is now a New York Times Best seller.
"Support came in so many different ways and I realized how fortunate I was and not everyone has that type of support available," tells Trisha.
Now a First Coast resident, she is outspoken advocate for organizations like the Women's Center of Jacksonville which helps provide support to survivors of rape and performs exams to provide evidence to the Jacksonville sheriff's Office.
She says survivors shouldn't keep the pain bottled up, sharing their story often helps.
"It doesn't mean you have to go public on a TV show or in the newspaper, but telling someone is a tremendous release and a freedom that gives you and the Women's Center provides a safe place for people to be able to do that," says Trisha.
Trisha says when she finally began telling people she was the Central Park Jogger, nobody pushed her away. But rather opened their hearts to her. With love and support, she was able to begin piecing her life back together.
"That's what provides survivors with the sense that yes they can move forward and they can reach out from the darkness and see that light, feel that light," tells Trisha.
There is hope after rape, she says survivors should never feel alone or ashamed.
"You shouldn't feel ashamed, you shouldn't feel alone and you are not to blame for what happened," she says.
If you need to call the Women's Center of Jacksonville Rape Crisis hotline it is 904-721-7273.
There will be someone to answer it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.