Pauley Perrette has helped solve countless crimes as forensic scientist Abby Scuito since "NCIS" began. But on November 12, 2015, Pauley became the victim of a crime when she was allegedly assaulted by a homeless man in Hollywood.
And now, Pauley says she's lucky to be alive – but the actress is dealing with the post-traumatic effects brought on by her horrific ordeal.
"I was just walking down the street in my neighborhood. And I barely escaped with my life. I'm extremely grateful to be here," Pauley told Access Hollywood, in a new exclusive interview.
In the immediate aftermath of the attack – which happened near her rental property, not far from her own home – Pauley said all she wanted to do was let everyone know she was alive.
"The first 48 hours after I was attacked and I was alive, I felt like just my one mission was to let the world know I'm OK," she explained.
It was soon thereafter that the psychological effects set in.
"It was a while after that I really felt the shock and just… what trauma does to you," Pauley said. "I unfortunately have a new fear in my life that I didn't have before."
The suspect in the attack – David Merck, a 45-year-old homeless man – was arrested on felony charges and is awaiting trial.
Pauley, a longtime advocate for the homeless, said she wept for her alleged attacker.
"I shed so many tears for the man that attacked me. I cried and I cried and I cried because just, what is he doing? He's so lost and he's out there with no resources, and he broke my heart," she said. "It's given me a motivation to work harder."
However, that motivation was tempered with fear when Pauley faced him in court.
"It was as if no one was in that room… I was back on that sidewalk alone with him and I was terrified," Pauley said. "And there's just something about the look of, I guess it's just like being lost, you know? It's terrifying and it's sad."
As for a message she now has for the alleged attacker?
"I forgive you," Pauley said.
-- Eric Anderson