Rape and stabbing survivor takes the stage to help other victims



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Posted on April 24, 2014 at 6:02 PM

The lone survivor of a horrific attack in South Park five years ago, is taking to the stage, to show her face to the public, and tell her story.

Jennifer Hopper is performing in the Angel Band Project Friday night at the Neptune Theater. In many ways, the performance is about the healing power of music, not just in their goal of helping victims of sexual assault. But Hopper, herself, personifies the struggle to regain a life and an identity after a brutal attack.

"Really, the first two years after Theresa died, it was all about making sure I was fit," she said.

Hopper and her fiancee, Teresa Butz were repeatedly raped and stabbed in their South Park home in July of 2009, before Butz broke free, yelling for help and dying in the street.

"If I would have been one of those women watching TV in July 2009. I would have thought, 'Oh, I would have died if that would have happened to me,'" said Hopper.

Hopper credits a gifted counselor for setting the stage to rebuild her life.

"She really acknowledged that life would be different," said Hopper. "There is no going back."

And she found a way to forgive her attacker, Isaiah Kalebu, who is now serving life in prison.

"It came from a commitment to live an extraordinary life, because I got to live," she said. "It became clear to me that holding on to something was a barrier a wall."

Friday night, Hopper will perform with Butz's brother, Norbert, a Tony award winning performer. She says Teresa always wanted to see them sing together.

"She was known for having a very loud clap. You could hear her above any one else," said Hopper. "I think she's here and she'd be really proud."