When Holly Dunn Pendleton was a junior at the University of Kentucky, she was raped, beaten and stabbed. But she survived.
Now, the victim rights advocate is coming to Smothers Park to speak about her story of survival.
Pendleton, the sole survivor of the serial “Railroad Killer,” is presenting as a part of New Beginnings Owensboro’s Unmasked series. The event will start at 6 p.m. at Smothers Park and will feature a collection of photographs to offer glimpses into the complex healing journeys of local victims of crime.
Emalee Hedges, LCSW Therapist with New Beginnings, said when planning this event they were looking for a survivor of crime who would feel comfortable publicly sharing about their experience and the impact it has had on them.
“We felt that Holly’s story could pique the interest of the community and prompt them to come out to participate, listen to her speak, and view the Unmasked project Hedges said. “We also know that many in Owensboro are already somewhat familiar with Holly and her story as it occurred rather near to us. This is National Crime Victim’s Week and we want to participate by spreading awareness, supporting victim’s rights, and sharing support and services available to survivors in and around our community.”
The portraits from the Unmasked project highlight the presence of trauma and impact of violence in Owensboro and the healing journeys of the participating survivors.
“Unmasked highlights survivors and their journey of healing,” Hedges said. “The focus of our project and our mission is trauma and healing/recovery from those experiences. I feel that it is safe to say every human at some point in their life has experienced some type of trauma.”
Pendleton is also the co-founder of Holly’s House in Evansville, Ind., which has a very similar mission to Owensboro’s New Beginnings.
Even if attendees don’t have trauma experience or a history of violence against them, Pendleton’s story could bring insight and awareness to those who want to support friends, family, and other loved ones through their healing journey after such experiences.
“Everyone is different in their experiences and in their healing, so we hope that Holly’s story and this project can support understanding, empathy, and a sense of supportive community for all survivors; thereby benefitting the survivors themselves as well as the community around them,” Hedges said. “We hope that they can offer a sense of support and hope to survivors while providing insight and awareness to the community as a whole. The images represent survivors of a wide range of violent crimes. These crimes aren’t just occasional anecdotal events and they don’t just occur in large cities away from here. They happen everywhere… and the awareness and support of the community is needed to address these crimes, reduce their occurrence, and to support those who have lived through them.”
In the event of rain, Unmasked will be moved to Brescia University in Duffy Auditorium.