"Maybe this is how I go, how I die. I've had a good life."
That is what British journalist Natasha Smith thought to herself as a mob of men sexually assaulted her near Tahrir Square in Cairo.
Smith, who is an associate editor in the Middle East for the Fair Observer, wrote about the men who surrounded her with "bared teeth and raging eyes" on a blog, which has been shared around the world.
She described walking with two male friends this week when a crowd turned and, in an instant, men began dragging her away.
"Men began to rip off my clothes. I was stripped naked.
"Their insatiable appetite to hurt me heightened. These men, hundreds of them, had turned from humans to animals.
"Hundreds of men pulled my limbs apart and threw me around."
Smith described crying out for help as other men took her to a tent and tried to protect her by forming a human shield.
As the crowd continued to surge, Smith said women came to help her and covered her naked body.
She was given a burqa and and men's clothes to use as a disguise and held hands with a stranger, who protected her by pretending to be her husband and helped her escape.
"I was terrified but I could see it was the only way out, and had to decide to trust him.
"He pulled me through the crowds out of the back of the tent. He told me: 'don't cry. Do not cry. Look normal'.
"I was barefoot, dodging broken glass and debris, trawling through mud and dirt.
"My inner reserves of strength kicked in, and I stopped crying and just thought 'keep calm and carry on'."
Smith has since left Cairo, but vowed to return and finish a documentary in the "wonderful country and city that I love".
She also urged others doing similar work around the world to take care.
"Don't let bad experiences ruin your life and determine your future.
"One of the worst things two nights ago was that I had never felt so powerless.
"I had no control and I was violated. But now I can take control and rebuild my confidence, and learn from my experience.
"Nothing, and nobody, will hold me back. When I'm ready, I'll finish this. The show must go on."
Egyptian-American commentator Mona Eltahawy, who was sexually assaulted by police after being detained during protests last year, sent her support to Smith on Twitter.
The latest attack has also reminded many of CBS reporter Lara Logan who was assaulted in February 2011.
- Sydney Morning Herald