A woman has stabbed a man who sexually assaulted her at knifepoint in a Melbourne park.
The 32-year-old woman had been walking a friend’s dog when she crossed the road into Thornbury's Mayer Park about 10.30pm on Saturday to avoid a man acting suspiciously, police said.
The man then came up to the woman asking for help to find something he'd lost before pulling out a knife, pushing her to the ground and sexually assaulting her.
The woman managed to grab the knife and stab the man before running with the dog to get help from a passing driver.
Her attacker fled and is thought to be in his early 20s, of medium height and Caucasian appearance, with brown hair. He was last seen wearing loose pants and a hoodie.
The woman was taken to hospital before being released and a crime scene was set up at the northern suburb park.
"It could have ended up much worse. I think the woman was very brave to act the way she did," Detective Acting Inspector Janet Mitchell told media on Sunday.
Police described the attack as “frightening” and believe the man pursued the woman before the attack.
"I think he was on a mission and he saw the woman coming and he pursued her and when he could see that she was trying to get away, he's tried to divert her attention, appealing to her good nature to assist him," Detective Mitchell said.
The Herald Sun reported that nearby residents were shaken by incident and witnessed multiple crime scene tents set up behind the toilet block
“It’s very scary,” one said.
“I’m devastated as a woman myself. It angers me. It’s not fair.”
Another neighbour said “the park seems to safe”.
“The park seems so safe,” another neighbour said.
Police released a computer generated image of the suspect and have asked the public to help identify him.
There's been a string of high-profile assaults on women in public places across Melbourne.
Courtney Herron, 25, was bashed and killed at Parkville's Royal Park in May. Henry Hammond is charged with her murder.
In January, 21-year-old Aiia Maasarwe was raped, murdered and set on fire near a Bundoora tram stop. Her attacker, 21-year-old Codey Herrmann, is awaiting sentence.
Budding comedian Eurydice Dixon, 22, was raped and murdered while walking home through Princes Park at Carlton North in June last year.
Jaymes Todd is appealing his life sentence over the attack.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the online reporting page.
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