Angela Rose knew in her gut she wasn't her attacker's first victim.
The way he held the knife to her throat. How he wiped the fingerprints off her keys and bound her hands. Even the evening gown she was forced to model was a perfect fit.
There was a confidence in his practiced movements.
It's been nearly 13 years since convicted killer and repeat sex offender Robert Koppa kidnapped Rose in the Woodfield Shopping Center parking lot and sexually assaulted her in a secluded wooded area in Lake County. The 17-year-old mall worker, who then lived in Bloomingdale, had just graduated from Lake Park High School.
Just a week after the July 1996 assault, Rose, who uses a different last name to protect her family, told the Daily Herald: "I don't know what I can do to help prevent this from happening again, but I'm going to try everything I can."
Since then, Rose, now 30 and living in Chicago, has become one of the nation's leading activists on sexual violence prevention.
In 2001, she founded PAVE: Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment, a nonprofit organization that uses grass-roots methods to change laws and advocate for victims.
"It's my mission to shatter the silence of sexual violence," Rose says now. "I knew it was my calling."
Robert Koppa had a lengthy rap sheet.
Then 47 and living in Palatine Township, Koppa had been released from prison just 17 months before assaulting Rose. He served less than half of a 30-year sentence for murdering a 15-year-old Chicago girl in 1980. That same year, Koppa had kidnapped a woman and sexually assaulted another. He'd already served two years for a 1977 deviant sexual assault conviction.
Rose was outraged at the lenient sentences and banded together with Koppa's other victims and their families. She spearheaded a movement that culminated in the 1998 Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act in Illinois.
The law enables the state to hold a sexually violent person in custody under psychiatric care if he or she has been convicted of a previous sexually violent offense, exhibits a mental disorder and is seen as a threat. Offenders are regularly re-evaluated.
Under the law, more than 200 convicts have been committed as sexually violent persons. Attorney General Lisa Madigan has 150 more commitment petitions pending.
Koppa was convicted of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated criminal sexual abuse and armed violence. Because he was considered a habitual offender, Koppa was sentenced to life without parole. He's spending his days at Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet.
Rose has stood by Madigan, former Attorney General Jim Ryan and lawmakers as they've announced legislation aimed to prevent sexual violence. She's joined former U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel to push for electronic monitoring of convicted sex offenders. And in what Rose considers PAVE's first legislative victory, Wisconsin lawmakers banned the use of lie detectors on sexual assault survivors after she testified at a committee hearing.
Recounting her story to lawmakers in Wisconsin, where Rose went to college, proved especially difficult. Though many years had passed, her voice cracked and her heart pounded recalling her horrifying ordeal and the hours after Koppa let her go.
As she talked with Schaumburg police, she says that a detective annoyed that the case delayed his trip to the Olympics asked Rose if she was lying.
"I clenched my fists, I was so angry," Rose said. "They were convinced I made this up."
Det. Jim Perille was her lifeline. Assigned to the case a couple days later, he believed her account of how Koppa sneaked up behind her in the Woodfield parking lot after she finished her shift at the mall. How her first reaction was to be embarrassed - not scared - because she was singing to herself. And how Rose's tears loosened the bandages blindfolding her on the drive up to rural Wauconda, enabling her to see Route 53, the duct-taped car antenna and village sticker in the window.
"I never had a victim who remembered so many details," said Perille, who now owns Capital Security and Investigations in Schaumburg. "I can't speak for the other detectives, but there was nothing I saw that would lead me to believe she wasn't being truthful."
Rose said victim-blaming is common. Sex crime victims especially are called promiscuous or deserving. Koppa's attorney had asked her what she'd been wearing that day.
"If I was wearing a short red mini-dress, it shouldn't matter," she said.
Should a victim confide in someone, Rose said, how the person responds to the revelation is critical. Her advice is to believe people and encourage, but don't force, them to report the crime. Offer resources and be a good listener.
Getting more victims to come forward is one of Rose's most passionate causes.
She teamed with activists Angela Shelton and Wendy Murphy to launch Report It Now, a national movement to get people to report sexual violence and abuse.
Murphy, an ex-prosecutor and a TV legal analyst, said it's time to shake up the system.
"Despite all the activism, the one thing we've never done is to mobilize around reporting more," Murphy said. "We can't do very much with the system until we ramp up basic reporting. It's hard to fix a problem you can't see."
The director of Boston-based Victim Advocacy and Research Group, Murphy said only 10 percent to 15 percent of victims report sex crimes - about the same as 40 years ago. Victims fear being blamed and shamed, and they perceive the legal process as painful and lengthy.
Whenever Rose speaks at an event, people inevitably line up to share their stories. When she spoke at Palatine's Harper College in March, a 19-year-old student said she was inspired finally to tell her mom about her abusive ex-boyfriend.
Many left the auditorium wearing bracelets similar to the plastic handcuffs Koppa used on Rose. For many years, seeing the object triggered feelings of being trapped and powerlessness for Rose, leading her to cocreate The Binding Project. People write a word of empowerment on one bracelet to be worn and the same word on a bracelet that's added to a sculpturelike art piece in Chicago.
Strength, hope and power were popular words with Harper students.
It took eight years, but Rose finally sought counseling after the incident. Her activism has been therapeutic, but symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder started to creep up.
She wants to know how long Koppa was stalking her, how he knew her dress size and why. He didn't respond to a letter she wrote to him in prison.
Despite the trauma, Rose is a confident, well-adjusted woman. She's recently engaged and works full time at a software company in Chicago.
Last month, in Addison, she had a reunion of sorts. PAVE hosted its first awards banquet honoring Ryan, the former attorney general, and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. In attendance was the family of Julie Angel, the 15-year-old girl Koppa killed in 1980. Rose hadn't seen them in years.
The event served as a fundraiser for PAVE, which is earning a national reputation for its grass-roots community work. Whether it's talking to Conant High School's women's studies class, putting on self-defense classes or collaborating on international conferences, Rose and her team vow to keep using social, educational and legislative tactics to prevent sexual violence.
For more information on PAVE and Angela Rose or to help in their effort, go to pavingtheway.net and angelaroseinfo.com.