Almost 20 years ago, my life changed dramatically.
While I was outside a friend's home, I was approached by a stranger who kidnapped me and held me captive in his home until I escaped 18 hours later. He was a serial killer, but I didn't know it until much later.
In the months and years that followed, I was happy to talk to people who knew my story, to share my experiences and answer their questions. However, as time went on, I met new people who didn't already know my story, and I didn't share with them. Not because it was hard for me to do, but because of the rote response I often received; the well-meaning "I'm so sorry that happened to you."
It took me a while to figure out just WHY that sentiment felt so uncomfortable to me. I now realize it's because I am not sorry. When someone would say to me "I'm sorry," it made me feel like they felt sorry for me, and I don't resonate with that. I wasn't sorry it happened because it was something that made me who I was but it did not define me, it refined me.
As the years have passed and my life has changed and grown, I've realized that were it not for the things that have happened in my life, I would not be who and where I was. My kidnapping led me to a career in law enforcement where I met my husband and now to a career in public advocacy and keynote speaking. I never would have ended up here without these things that have happened. For me to say "I'm sorry" for what happened feels disingenuous and ungrateful for the multitude of blessings I have in my life today.
As I have ventured into a career in the media and keynote speaking, I've realized another facet of sharing my story that has been a stumbling block for me: I am SO MUCH MORE than that girl who escaped a serial killer. Media outlets often reach out and they want me to share my story for their viewers or readers. I'm usually somewhat happy to do that, but here's the thing friends: I've already shared my story many times over and I am more than that. As I meet other survivors with amazing stories of survival, I find this to be a common thread among many of us. We have compelling stories. I would argue however, that the most compelling part of these stories are the things that come after.
To empower others and tell stories for a reason, we must focus on the SO MUCH MORE aspect of these stories. The people who have gone on to use their darkest moments as a springboard to launch careers and beautiful lives. Those who have used their stories to empower others. People who use their wounds to bandage others and teach others how to bandage those wounds. I argue that THOSE are the stories worth telling. The "SO MUCH MORE" stories. So to those of you who found me because I escaped a serial killer, I'm so glad you're here. I hope that you learned something about those of us who speak publicly about our wounds.
My name is Kara Robinson Chamberlain. I was kidnapped by and escaped from a serial killer.
But I am SO MUCH MORE. I'm a wife and mother. I'm a child of God. I am a keynote speaker, influencer and advocate. I am a lover of dogs, nature, reading, food and personality tests (enneagram 9w8 & a Gretchin Rubins Rebel). I am a woman who is fit-ish and uses fitness for healing and mental wellness. I am a survivor who has learned and grown and is still finding her way.
You are more too friends. You may have had struggles and wounds in your life, but you get to choose what you do with those wounds. You get to decide where you go and who you become. You get to be more. I believe in you.