Anoka woman who fought back during knife attack tells others to "Fight Like a Girl”

  • Article by: SHANNON PRATHER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 11, 2013 - 4:39 PM

Angela Champagne-From relied on her self-defense training to fend off a knife-wielding attacker. She wants to make sure other women can fight back, too.

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Angela Champagne-From hugged her best friend, Krysti Clark-Garber, after her presentation at City Hall in Blaine, part of her "Fight Like a Girl" campaign.

Photo: RENEE JONES SCHNEIDER , Star Tribune

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She was attacked at 4 p.m. on a Thursday in a downtown Minneapolis parking garage. Her assailant camouflaged himself in a business suit. She was parked just steps from the elevator on her way from work to school.

As he put a knife to her throat and hissed in her ear, “We’re going for a ride,” Angela Champagne-From had one thought: She was not going to get into that car.

Instead, the longtime Anoka County resident and former beauty queen fought back. Remembering moves she learned in a Spring Lake Park High school self-defense course, she stomped his feet, clawed at his face, bit his hand and jabbed at his crotch, kicking and screaming.

She suffered a 10-inch stab wound to her abdomen that cut so deep the tip of the blade reached her back muscles.

As her assailant, a sex offender, fled, he said, “You’re lucky you’re a fighter.”

She lost half her blood as she ran down four levels of the parking garage, but she survived. A year after the attack, she has made it her mission to educate women and girls about the importance of self-defense by sharing the details of her survival.

Champagne-From, 30, has launched the “Fight Like a Girl” campaign. It’s intended to reclaim the negative, mocking views that society has about fighting, hitting, — doing anything — like a girl, Champagne-From said. She hosted her first public event last week at Blaine City Hall. More than 70 people — mostly women and teenage girls — attended, listening as Champagne-From shared her frantic 911 call to police as well as photos of the crime scene and her injuries. She discussed the attack, her recovery, the criminal trial and her campaign to teach other women to fight like a girl.

“I believe if he’d gotten me into that car, I wouldn’t be here today,” Champagne-From said.

“I want to be remembered as an intelligent fighter who survived every woman’s worst nightmare and go on to touch the hearts of as many woman as possible by sharing my survival story and advocating for silent victims.”

Champagne-From grew up in Blaine. She’s a 2001 graduate of Spring Lake Park High School and was crowned Miss Blaine 2002-03.

Her younger brother is a Blaine police officer.

“I one hundred percent support her. You can just see the passion in her,” said Officer Al Champagne. “She’s an amazing woman.”

Several members of her family attended her presentation.

“I fully support her. She was saved for a reason, to spread her message,” said her husband, Adam From.

Champagne-From works as a paralegal in Minneapolis and was pursuing her bachelor’s degree in women’s studies and legal studies when she was attacked on April 19, 2012. She was on her way to class. She doesn’t recall seeing her attacker as she walked to her car in the McGladrey Plaza parking ramp at the corner of 8th Street and Marquette Avenue.

“I work at a law firm. I see white men in business suits every day. It’s completely normal,” Champagne-From said.

When her attacker approached from behind with the knife, she thought it was a joke.

“I grabbed the object at my throat. It was a knife. I sliced my thumb,” Champagne-From said.

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