A second victim has described her attack by a suspected serial predator - and says police should have issued a public warning to ensure other women could be safe.

The woman, who was 19 when she was assaulted on a secluded path near Wellington's Massey University in 2012, said she was horrified to learn afterwards there had been another incident in the same area nine months earlier.

"I had no idea. When the detective told me there had been other cases I felt, surely this should be known. Surely there should be a way to be safe," she said.

"If I had known I never would have walked there, and I wouldn't be another statistic."

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She said she felt devastated after reading the Herald at the weekend to find the same man had possibly attacked up to 11 other women, and was the subject of a current police investigation - something they hadn't made public.

"If police believe it's the same person and it's happening often, there definitely should have been some kind of announcement so people are aware," she said.

"I understand the need for privacy, there doesn't have to be details, but if I had known that there was someone out there ... it would have made a difference to me."

The woman, who did not want to be named, said the details of her attack were very similar to that described by scientist Grace Leung, who was assaulted on the pathway in August 2011.

Leung, who is short and slight, was grabbed from behind as she walked at night and told: "Scream, and I'll kill you". She fought the man off and ran away. She later said he seemed unfit.

Grace Leung at the path through Massey University where she survived an attack in 2011. Photo/Mark Mitchell
Grace Leung at the path through Massey University where she survived an attack in 2011. Photo/Mark Mitchell

The second woman said she was of average height, but at the time weighed only 48 kilograms. A man ran up behind her on the path and grabbed her, putting one hand on her mouth and one around her neck, and said something like "don't scream".

"I fought back the best I could. I pulled the beanie off his face. I wanted to see him," she said.

"He punched me and I fell to the ground, but my fight instinct kicked in. I knew if I scratched him or pinched him I'd get some DNA under my fingernails."

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The woman said the man didn't feel very strong.

"He didn't have that much force and I thought he was a bit weak for a man. I think that's why we were lucky in getting away - he didn't have the power to do anything to us," she said.

An interview with Grace Leung, who fought off a male attacker on a walkway at Massey University in Wellington. / Mark Mitchell

"That does worry me though. He might get stronger, or bring a weapon next time. That kind of crime can escalate quite quickly to rape or even murder."

Her attack ended when someone came down the path from the nearby gym. By that time she was curled in a ball on the ground.

An aerial view of the path near Massey University Wellington where two attacks happened just nine months apart.
An aerial view of the path near Massey University Wellington where two attacks happened just nine months apart.

She went to her boyfriend's house and cried all night. "I showered and showered and showered. Even though I'd been scratching him to get something."

The next day she went to the police station - not for her sake, but because, she says, she didn't want it to happen to anyone else.

"I thought it would help, but now it's happening again."

The incident - just 15 minutes - changed her whole life, the woman said.

She stopped going out. She couldn't walk alone.

If she saw anyone who bore a resemblance to the man - who she said had tanned skin, not pale skin like the man described by Leung - she would get angry.

When someone walks up behind her even now, her heart starts racing.

"I'm getting better, but I'm quite reactive. I really don't like it if my friends are going out and they walk off. I make them get a taxi," she said.

She said when she reported her attack, police did an excellent job. But after six months, she gave up hoping the man would be caught.

"I count my blessings. It could have been worse. For a while I thought, 'Why me? Was it something I was wearing?' But I know it wasn't my fault."

She said it was difficult coming to terms with the impact it had on her life, for example going home early from university so she wouldn't be alone in the dark.

"This shouldn't be about telling women to be safe. It should be telling men to get their shit together," she said.

Wellington police have so far confirmed there are 12 cases possibly linked to the man, believed to include the cases at Massey and some near Victoria University.

Ties between the cases are believed to be behavioural, rather than forensic, but little is known about the possible offender.

Leung thought she recognised him in a 2014 identikit produced after two more assaults at the Boyd Wilson field near Victoria, but her phone call identifying the man was never followed up.

Police refused to comment further for "investigative and operational reasons".

SEXUAL ABUSE OR ASSAULTS - WHERE TO GET HELP:

The Safe to Talk sexual harm helpline is available free 24/7:

• Call 0800 044 334
• Text 4334
• Email support@safetotalk.nz
• Resources, info and webchat atwww.safetotalk.nz

Contact details for Rape Crisis are available here

If it's an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

You can also visit the police website for information about reporting sexual crime. http://www.police.govt.nz/advice/victims/victims-rape-or-sexual-assault