Don’t call Monika Kørra a victim. In 2009 the college sophomore and track star at SMU was abducted and brutally raped by three armed men on her way home from a party. “I was victimized,” she writes in Kill the Silence, “but I refuse to be called a victim.” Kørra resolved not to let anyone feel sorry for her. She was determined not to let what happened to her define her story. The result of that resolve is her inspirational memoir, published in 2015.

Kørra left her native Norway to attend SMU in Dallas, TX on a full track scholarship. The transition was difficult, but as an athlete she was accustomed to overcoming adversity and negotiating obstacles. That fortitude would be tested in the extreme after the attack. Kørra leans on her friends and family and her SMU teammates as she labors through grief and anxiety and finds the strength for her greatest fight yet—the arrest and trial of her three attackers. She testifies against them with a fierce determination that they would not have power over her anymore nor be able to hurt anyone else. All three are found guilty and put in prison.

As she sketches her heartbreaking story, Kørra uses running as a lens through which she puts into perspective her pain and perseverance. The miles she spends running in circles around the track are a metaphor for the emotional work she puts into finding a “new normal” after being so brutally violated. There’s a thin line, she reminds the reader, between overtraining and not pushing oneself hard enough. Even a pelvis injury suffered in training a year earlier becomes a means to understand and come to terms with the assault: “In the days after the attack, I tried to remind myself of how I’d overcome that injury—how patience and persistence and allowing other people to help me and guide me and keep me from charging too quickly ahead and doing more damage had all worked out so well for me.” Ultimately, her narrative follows the trajectory of her training—pain turns to triumph.

In 2012 Monike Kørra graduated from SMU. She is a certified advocate for rape victims through Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center’s volunteer training program. Her nonprofit organization, the Monica Kørra Foundation, provides services and referrals for trauma victims and their loved ones.

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