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Top Model Danielle Hayes takes out would-be attacker with taekwondo skills.

Knowing some self-defence helped Danielle when she needed it most.
Top Model Danielle Hayes

Model Danielle Hayes fought off a would-be rapist using self-defence skills she learnt from her dad.

Danielle, best known to Kiwis as the winner of the 2010 New Zealand’s Next Top Model, left New Zealand not long after taking out the top prize because life here, she told Fairfax, with her new-found reality TV fame, was just too tough to take.

Seeking a fresh start, she moved overseas to find modelling work, and in 2013 Danielle recalled the traumatic experience that changed her life.

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She told Mindfood Style, published tomorrow, how she had been returning to her central Paris apartment one night when she was attacked in the street.

At first, she said, the man approached her and began speaking to her in French. She carried on walking to her home, but the attacker caught up to her, grabbing her arms and pinning her against a wall.

Danielle said the experience changed everything.

“I got away and ran to my front door. He was right behind me, so I fought to keep him out, and eventually I did.”

Danielle said the assailant found his way into her building as she waited to catch an elevator to her floor.

He then pushed her into the elevator and tried to pull her clothes off.

Courageous Danielle fought off the attacker with everything she had.

“I was punching him as hard as I could – I did taekwondo for 10 years, Dad was my instructor, so I know some self-defence.

“I punched him in the throat so he lost oxygen and went down.”

She finally managed to escape when the elevator doors opened.

Her flatmate came to her aid and chased the man down the street with a knife and a frying pan but he managed to get away.

Danielle Hayes said coming home helped her to recover.

Reporting the matter to the police proved to be problematic. The police couldn’t find him, she said, and there were problems with the language; eventually it was dropped.

While the trauma has left her with scars, Danielle said she recovered by returning home to be with family.

She has since returned to modelling in Paris, and she is also forging a new career as an actor. She’ll star alongside Scarlett Johansson in the upcoming movie Ghost in the Shell which is being shot in Wellington.

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