Jennifer Gibbons, the Chicago woman vying to become the first person to row solo around the perimeter of Lake Michigan, is not letting her alleged sexual assault get in the way of accomplishing the feat.
Gibbons, a resident of Chicago who grew up in Battle Creek, Mich., is rowing around Lake Michigan's 1,500 miles to support her cancer survivor charity, Recovery On Water (ROW.)
The 27-year-old University of Michigan alumnus posted on her website that being allegedly sexually abused Sunday during her Lake Michigan journey wasn't going to stop her from achieving her goal.
"I know that I had a choice in telling people about the details of my attack, particularly that it was a sexual assault," Gibbons wrote Tuesday on her website, Row4ROW.org. "To go through this at all, let alone publicly, is extremely difficult. I chose to talk about it in the hope that someone might be able to provide more information about the person who did this to me. Thank you for the endless amounts of support, prayers, and love. Please know that I am in the best of hands-with my family and in the protection of the Michigan State Police."
Gibbons' alleged attacker has not been apprehended, although Michigan State Police said they believed the abuser may have been following Gibbons' journey through her website, according to ABC News. Authorities said he may have traveled a "significant distance" to commit the alleged sexual abuse, the network reported. The man entered the boat while it was docked.
He was described as being in his 30s, about 5-foot-8 to 6-feet tall with facial hair and light eyes, Michigan State Police told ABC News.
While the alleged sexual assault is not stopping Gibbons from reaching her goal of rowing around Lake Michigan, the Chicago woman is taking extra precautions in light of the attack.
"Most importantly, I will no longer be alone," Gibbons said.
Liv, Gibbons' boat, "will be trailered to a secure location in Muskegon, Michigan until I can continue the trip on water sometime next week," Gibbons wrote.
"From that point to Chicago we can ensure my safety on water since we're confident that there are enough harbors and enough resources and volunteers to make it possible. Because we are unsure that I can be kept safe on the water in the miles between where I am currently and the point at which I will start rowing again, I will tackle them on land.
"With thanks to a generous donor and the support of amazing volunteers, later this week I will continue traveling Lake Michigan's perimeter by bicycle. A support crew will accompany me and ensure my safety day in and day out. When I get to Muskegon, Liv and I will reunite and keep pushing to get to Chicago sometime in mid-August, as we had originally planned," Gibbons continued.
"My chin is up, my eyes are open, and we're going to get this show back on the road (then water)," she said.
Gibbons, who claimed she was sexually assaulted, said the incident has not changed her views about humanity.
"I still believe that there are more good people in the world than bad," she wrote. "I still believe that life is a gift, even when it's scary and unfair. I still believe that life offers us the privilege, the opportunity, and the responsibility, to give something back, even when people try to take things away from us."