NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A Cane Bay High School art teacher says she's thankful for the support she's been receiving from friends and strangers after police say she was attacked in her own home, and fended off the attacker by biting his tongue off.
"I told my mom today that I saw the worst in humanity and then I saw the most compassionate, supportive, amazing, generous part of humanity in the exact same day," Paige Duvall said.
Duvall, surrounded by family and co-workers, spoke out for the first time at her mother's home in Mt. Pleasant Thursday evening.
The 33-year-old hasn't returned to her Sumner Avenue home in North Charleston since the Oct. 16 incident.
Duvall told investigators when the teen put his tongue into her mouth, she "bit his tongue as hard as she could until she heard it snap."
Investigators say the teen, later identified as 16-year-old Antoine Miller, was found and arrested at a Waffle House after his mother called 911 due to her son "not having a tongue and needing medical assistance."
Duvall ran out of her home and contacted police at a business on Remount Road.
"I spoke with a counselor and my mom today and the counselor asked me,'What would you think objectively looking at your story? What would you think about that person?'" Duvall said."For the very first time, I felt empowered and I thought to myself, I would put that in my Rolodex of 'If that happens to me that's what I'm going to do.'"
Duvall said she had just purchased her home in April and was looking forward to making it her own.
"It was a blank canvas, it was all hardwood floors and white walls," Duvall said."It was just ready for someone like me to come in and make it their own."
Duvall said she's "definitely" going to come back to her home, but she doesn't know when.
She calls the incident a learning experience.
"I want to always be able to talk about it," Duvall said."I think it would be reckless to just get over it, to not learn from it. Not that I think I did anything wrong. I know I didn't do anything wrong."
The Cane Bay community has been helping Duvall with teachers painting her home and students cutting her grass.
In addition, friends are helping to make her home safer.
"I thought that it was going to be me by myself just sort of figuring things out," Duvall said."I was inundated by love and support by friends and family and the community. People that don't even know me are coming around...I'm so thankful to everybody. I really am. I can't even express how thankful I am."