A Survivor’s Life Reclaimed: How to Overcome Adversity

Kill the Silence author, Monika Kørra had traveled from her home in Norway to Southern Methodist University in Dallas, determined to acclimate to life in the States and excited for the opportunity of a full scholarship to do what she loved. As an athlete and Olympic hopeful, Monika was used to overcoming adversity, using obstacles like stepping stones to achieve her goals. Little did she know that the unflappable spirit that made her an Olympic hopeful, would ultimately assist her in overcoming the greatest challenge of her life. One evening in 2009, college sophomore and track star, Monika Kørra was kidnapped and sexually assaulted at gun point by three men. Within hours of being released, Monika resolved that she would not be a victim – she was going to be a survivor. In a Q&A session with Books for Better Living, Monika Kørra explains how she rose above the fear and shame to finally recover from the struggles of adversity:


How did you begin to change your mindset?

The very first step was the decision I made, in the police car, on the way to the hospital that night. I made the decision right away to never let what happened to me destroy me. I survived, I had just been given my life back as a present, and I was going to fight until I would find my way back to a normal, happy life. I reminded myself of this decision every day in the months that followed. Then, I had to figure out the specific steps I needed to take in order to stay true to this decision. My solution was to be open and to ask for help, to hold on to my passion for running and to allow it to remind me who I am and who I want to be, and to eventually forgive and let go.


Where does your strength come from?

I would say my strength came from many different places. First, when we have no choice, I believe we can all find strength within ourselves. What I found was love and trust within my heart. Plus, all the wonderful people in my life confirmed to me that I wasn’t alone in my recovery and they continuously gave me strength to fight through those challenging days. I also think that all the lessons I had learned as an athlete helped me a lot. And faith was a big part of my recovery….all along, I believed and felt that I survived that night for a reason, that I was spared to help others.


How did you learn to trust again?

I am so thankful that I never had any trust issues with the people in my life. I was in a good relationship at the time, which helped me a lot. Trusting strangers, on the other hand, took time. I was in shock, and I didn’t think clearly for a long time. Many times, I was scared that I was losing my mind and that I would be scared for the rest of my life. I learned that sometimes we just need to trust that time will do us good. Little by little, I felt like I was returning to a normal life. Taking baby steps was the key, as well as not pushing myself into situations that scared me. Our brains need time to recover after stress, just like our bodies do. My advice is: Lean on those you trust and are close to, and give yourself time to heal – mentally and physically.


What is the most surprising thing you learned about yourself?

How hard it is for me to allow myself to be vulnerable and to ask for help, but how much stronger I feel when I do. This was a process for me, a process that I’ve learned a lot from and that now gives me a kind of strength I’ve never felt before.


Monika Korra, Jr. World Championship - Bydgoszcz Poland - 2008About the Author Monika Kørra is a native of Løten, Norway. She graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science from Southern Methodist University, where she was also on the championship cross-country team. She is a certified advocate for rape victims through Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center’s volunteer training program, and was the keynote speaker at the 8th annual Conference on Crimes Against Women. As the founder and CEO of the Monika Kørra Foundation, she has spoken about her experiences before audiences at universities, military installations, domestic abuse conferences, and more. Learn more at MonikaKorra.org.

Feature Photo Credit: Christopher Edwin Nuzzaco/Shutterstock

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