Calgary

'Nothing but a miracle': Lethbridge woman who survived brutal assault leaves hospital

A woman who spent more than four months in hospital after being brutally sexually assaulted while on her way to work in Lethbridge, Alta., has finally returned home.

'She's come a long, long way. A lot further than they had ever anticipated or ever thought possible'

The father-in-law of a woman who was hospitalized by an unprovoked assault says she is excited to be out of the hospital and to move on with life. (Kate Adach/CBC)

A woman who spent more than four months in hospital after being brutally sexually assaulted while on her way to work in Lethbridge, Alta., has finally returned home.

Relatives posted a picture online of the 25-year-old outside Foothills hospital in Calgary, smiling and holding her discharge papers.

"She's come a long, long way. A lot further than they had ever anticipated or ever thought possible," said her father-in-law, whom CBC is not naming to protect the woman's identity as is standard in sexual assault cases.

On Sept. 30, 2016, the woman was walking to work at a local restaurant when she was struck in the head with a weapon, dragged into an alley and sexually assaulted by a man she didn't know.

Denzel Bird, 20, was arrested and charged with attempted murder, aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon and aggravated assault in the attack. He is due back in court for a bail hearing later this month.

'Nothing but a miracle'

The woman's father-in-law said their faith has helped the family get through the past four months.

"We've seen how bad it was. We've seen every detail that, unfortunately and fortunately, we can't display to the world how it really looked. We can't show those pictures," he said. "So to see where she is today, in all our hearts and minds, is nothing but a miracle."

The woman is still having some trouble walking and struggles with her short- and long-term memory. 

"Her overall attitude is great. She's cheerful, she's positive and she's excited to get out of there and move on," the father-in-law said.

Husband never left her side

The woman and her husband were married just a few months before the attack. Her father-in-law said his son has not left her side — something that is not likely to change anytime soon.

"The truth is [she] still needs care, so my son can't leave her side. He has to be with her at all times to take care of her still. She still can't function without that support."

Still, her father-in-law says the family is grateful for her recovery and hopes the young couple will soon be able to get back to building a normal life together.

"We don't know at what point things are going to stop, if they stop at all. She could fully recover. We believe she will, but until that day happens, they can't even make plans for their future yet," he said.

After a week of rest at home, the woman will start outpatient therapy to further her recovery.

With files from Kate Adach

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