“He stole my smile and that just kills me," Tammy Lawrence-Daley told PEOPLE in an exclusive interview

By Harriet Sokmensuer Joelle Goldstein
May 31, 2019 01:06 PM

Five months after she was allegedly attacked and left for dead while staying at a luxury resort in the Dominican Republic, Tammy Lawrence-Daley has shared her story.

“I’m at the point where I feel strong enough that I want to get this information out there,” Lawrence-Daley told PEOPLE in an exclusive interview. “What I went through, I would never wish on anyone.”

In January, Lawrence-Daley’s attack garnered international headlines, and on Wednesday, the 51-year-old Delaware mom broke her silence. Here are five things to know from her May 30 interview with PEOPLE.

1. She Says She Was Attacked by a Member of Resort Staff

In January, Lawrence-Daley was staying at an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana called Majestic Elegance with her husband and best friends Diane and James Doering. The couples had planned a week-long vacation of “sunshine and beach-time.”

However, on the second night of their trip, after an evening out, Lawrence-Daley and her husband went back to their room. But when Lawrence-Daley became hungry and heard that room service had ended for the night, she told her husband she was going to find something to eat.

On her way back to her room, Lawrence-Daley says she was attacked from behind as she walked between two buildings. She said her attacker was wearing a resort uniform with the staff logo on it, and claims he dragged her down concrete stairs into a hidden crawlspace in the basement.

She called the area “a hole.”

Tammy Lawrence

2. She Was in the “Hole” For Eight Hours Going In and Out of Consciousness

Inside the “hole,” Lawrence-Daley says her attacker strangled her, kicked her in the head and beat her with a club, causing her to go in and out of consciousness from a concussion.

After her attacker left her there, Lawrence-Daley says she remained in the “hole” for eight hours. Meanwhile, her husband and friends began to search for her. Over the course of the next eight hours, Lawrence-Daley said she went from fearing nobody would find her to going into “survival mode.”

Unable to see or move, Lawrence-Daley began to try and figure out where she was. Her attacker had left her with her phone but she was unable to call for help because she didn’t have service. It wasn’t until the next morning when she heard people walking above her and she was able to cry out for help that she was found.

WARNING: Photo below may be distressing to some readers.

Tammy Lawrence

3. Doctors Were Unable to Determine Whether She Had Been Sexually Assaulted 

Lawrence-Daley said she could have been sexually assaulted due to “damage down there,” but during the attack she was so badly beaten she couldn’t open her swollen eyes or stay awake.

An external rape kit was administered days later, but it would be too late to conclusively determine anything.

After being found, Lawrence-Daley spent five days at a local medical center being treated for her injuries, which included the inside of her mouth being “ripped apart,” a broken nose, a fractured hand and a partial loss of hearing in her left ear.

4. Her Alleged Attacker May Never Be Caught

Since returning home, Lawrence-Daley says she has continued to press the police to investigate her attack. However, due to a lack of evidence and different criminal procedures in the Dominican Republic, she has been told she may never receive justice.

“One lawyer told us the only choice you have is to go home and forget about it,” she told PEOPLE. “That’s not something that you want to hear. … This isn’t how it should happen.”

In addition to having to return to the D.R. to testify, Lawrence-Daley would have to go against the resort, which claims no responsibility for the attack. Representatives at Majestic Elegance Resort and the Dominican Republic Police Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

5. A New Life, a Chilling Warning 

As she settles back into her life as a finance manager, Lawrence-Daley said her life has been changed forever.

Though most of her injuries were internal and depend upon her scar tissue healing with time, Lawrence-Daley noted there’s one thing she’s particularly upset about.

“I always said the one thing I loved about myself was my smile,” she told PEOPLE. “I always have a smile for everybody, I love my sense of humor and that’s the one thing that guy stole from me. He stole my smile and that just kills me.”

Though it was difficult for her to speak out, Lawrence-Daley knew she had to do so for the sake of helping others. As well as speaking with PEOPLE, she shared her story in a powerful Facebook post on Wednesday. She ended it with a stark warning: “This man thought he killed me, but he failed. He is still out there, a predator, waiting for his next victim. Only the next woman may not be so fortunate. Please, please do not walk alone.”

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