Survivor of rape and stabbing sings to heal
SEATTLE -- Jennifer Hopper points to fading gash marks on her left arm and laughs.
"I've called these my lucky scars," she says.
Scarred by the man who slashed her neck -- nicking her jugular -- and murdered her fiancee, you can't help but admire Hopper's strength as she jokes about her stab wounds. Because you know it took a lot of work.
"These are my favorite because these are his misses. He was going for my heart but he got my arm instead," she says.
Isaiah Kalebu did put a knife into her partner's heart. He crawled through an open bathroom window in the South Park Home Hopper shared with Teresa Butz. Kalebu repeatedly raped and stabbed both women. Butz died in the street two months before their commitment ceremony.
"I tried on my wedding dress, a mockup of my wedding dress that day before she died. It was really like a rug pulled out from under you," Hopper says.
Broken and frightened, Hopper's healing became a full-time job, leaving little room, she thought, for the other love in her life: Music. But Butz's childhood friends launched The Angel Band Project to fund music therapy programs for sexual violence survivors.
Hopper started singing again, recording songs, finding her voice, her purpose, her new self. She will perform at Seattle's Neptune Theatre Friday for the first time publicly since the attack. Butz's Tony Award-Winning brother Norbert Leo Butz will also be featured.
"I don't know if I could have sung one note if I hadn't been on a path of peace and forgiveness toward my attacker," Hopper says from her 7th floor condo.
Yes, there's a reason she's that high. Hopper made a declaration early on that she would do more than merely survive.
"I got to survive so I was gonna live an extraordinary life, and you can't live an extraordinary life when you're angry," she says.