Monika Korra: The Survivor

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In this week's Dallas Observer we profile 30 of the metro area's most interesting characters, with new portraits of each from local photographer Mark Graham. See the entire Dallas Observer People Issue here.

On a cold night in 2009, SMU freshman Monika Korra was kidnapped at gunpoint by three men in a van. They beat and raped her for more than an hour before shoving her out of the van at an intersection, throwing her dress after her.

The next morning -- after a rape exam, after taking anti-HIV medication that would make her vomit for days, after calling her parents in Norway and listening to her mother weep -- she woke up and took out a piece of paper. She stared at the blank page for a few moments, then quickly wrote three words: "Kill the silence."

For the past three years, this is what Korra has tried to do. Now, after her recent graduation from SMU, she's preparing to make it a full-time job.

Korra came to Dallas on a running scholarship. After her rape, she says, "I didn't feel like anything like this could happen in Norway." But she never thought of going home: "I promised myself I would fight through this."

She worked with detectives to build a case against her attackers, then testified against them during their trials last year. Two were convicted of aggravated sexual assault and sentenced to life in prison; the third pleaded guilty and got 25 years.

She waited until the last man was sentenced before she spoke to the media, although she didn't want to. "I wanted to speak up right away," she says. She learned how rare it is for rape victims in the United States to go public, and felt strongly it was important to give her story "a name and a face." She spoke to the SMU Daily Campus, The Dallas Morning News, ESPN and several Norwegian papers.

With school finished, she's devoting the next year to speaking about her experience. She recently started an internship with the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center and completed its advocate training, so she can help victims as they arrive at the hospital. She's working on a book, too. The title, of course: Kill The Silence. "It feels good to get here," she says. "I've been waiting for so long to do this."

See the entire Dallas Observer People Issue.

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