OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - National Crime Victims' Rights Week is April 2 - 8, and is a time to offer hope and support to victims of crime.
One of the most heinous crimes on the Coast in recent years was the kidnapping, battery, and sexual assault endured by Barbi Jalanivich.
That day in September of 2015 is always on the mind of Jalanivich. She was attacked by Cameron May at an Ocean Springs apartment complex where she worked. Suffering severe injuries, she felt like she was going to die.
"He was strangling me, and I was losing my breath, and I couldn't breathe anymore," Jalanivich recalled. "My jaw was broken, my ear was lacerated, and they had to sew my ear back up, and I had a brain bleed."
Jalanivich says she has healed physically, but mentally, problems persist.
"I have PTSD, which is post-traumatic stress disorder. I have anxiety now and fight depression. It's something that I have to deal with every day," said Jalanivich.
The community rallied behind her, hosting a golf tournament to help pay for medical care.
"It's still all surreal to me. It's amazing. It's definitely helped in my recovery tremendously," Jalanivich said.
In court last month, she pointed her finger at her attacker, saying what he did brought one thing to mind.
"I think he's evil, and I don't quite understand him and his actions. Like I've said before, it's just really sad. The whole act to me is just sadness," said Jalanivich.
May will spend at least four decades in prison, which pleases Jalanivich.
"I think 40 years was wonderful. Justice was definitely served that day in the trial," she noted.
Jalanivich is now on a mission with a message for other victims of sexual violence.
"I just want them to be able to feel safe in coming forward and talking to someone and not allowing whoever did this to them get away with what they did," Jalanivich explained.
She has a message for herself as well, a message clearly seen on the wall of her home. It's artwork about bravery.
"I have dreams and hopes and stuff that I want to accomplish, and I'm not going to let this stop me," Jalanivich noted.
Jalanivich is still recovering from the brutal attack, and has not yet returned to work full time.