Pauley Perrette: Horrifying Attack Gave Me New 'Motivation'

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

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