by Bre Lasley
trigger warning: this story shares an account of an attack that may be difficult for some survivors to read.
From the moment he came into my bedroom window to the moment he was holding his cold bladed hunting knife, which he used to stabbed me with minutes prior, I was in the depths of evil.
I’ve grown up in the church. I’ll be the first one to admit I lived in the “Utah Mormon Bubble” probably until I boarded a plane to China soon after graduating high school. Upon arriving in China, I had many immediate exposures to real life or life outside of the “Utah Mormon Bubble.” I saw poverty I never knew existed. I saw rib cages protruding from the worn bodies of men, women, and even children. So much so, I could easily visualize their skeletons. This heartbreaking exposures were not consequences of evil, more so unfortunate consequences of uncontrollable circumstances. I’ll never forget the day I feel like I was exposed to evil. We were riding a crowded bus, which wasn’t an abnormality by any means, a woman we had been buying our produce from at the corner store for several months joined us. It was summertime which made any bus ride a hot, uncomfortable, sticky, stinky adventure. Hot, uncomfortable, sticky, and stinky are also all the adjectives in which are used to describe my personal hell. So, you can imagine the mood I was in.
Trying my hardest to “fake it” and have a good attitude, I started a conversation with the woman we all loved who decided to travel with us. For her protection and privacy, I’ll call her “Sara.” I noticed Sara was wearing a blazer with a scarf. Just looking at her, I was ten times more uncomfortable. I asked her how she was still breathing underneath all of her layers and joking made a comment about wearing a scarf in the middle of summer. Sara bashfully responded, “for no reason.” I immediately felt a turning in my stomach. I knew something wasn’t right and so did my other friends who were sitting close to us. I’ll never forgetting waiting for some time to pass by so others would start new conversations, get distracted with their iPods, or fall deep into whatever book they were reading.
As soon as I felt like no one was listening or paying attention to Sara and I, I nervously asked her, “Are you okay? I am worried about you.” She slowing untied her scarf and showed me her neck with her head looking down as if she were embarrassed. It was right then I saw evil. I saw a black and blue handprint whose long fingers wrapped around her small neck. Sara didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Chinese. Warm tears immediately filled my innocent “Utah Mormon Bubble” eyes. My heart felt like it was literally tearing. “Husband?” I said, while simultaneously pointing to my ring finger after pointing at her bruised neck. Miraculously, she understood and tenderly moved her head up and down. Anger, shock, and and unbelief took over my thoughts. Disgusted to lose the innocence of thinking these things only happened in movies, I said, “No okay.” There was nothing else I could do. From that moment on, my “Utah Mormon Bubble” started deflating.
In the years since my experience with Sara, there have been many other times my “Utah Mormon Bubble” has been poked at and caused to deflate even more so. However, nothing could have prepared me for the early morning hours of September 23, 2015 in MY new home that I shared with my little sister, Kayli.
Kayli had just gone down to her room to go to sleep. I was in my room sitting on my bed in my garments finishing up a work project on my computer. I remember I was listening to Paul Cardall on Spotify when I heard a male voice say, “Hey.” I got a little nervous and even thought to shut my window. Instead, I told myself not to freak myself out. Minutes later I heard the same voice, except this time it said, “Hey girl, I’m coming in.” There aren’t words to describe the feeling I had looking over to my right and just 6-7 feet away seeing the back of a huge shirtless man coming in my window. I felt evil. The same evil I felt seeing Sara’s neck times a million. (I’m not trying to take away from Sara’s experience with evil whatsoever, this feeling hit me harder because it was ME)
“He’s going to rape me” was my first thought. “He’s going to get Kayli” was my second thought. I immediately jumped off my bed and ran towards the window thinking I’d be able to push him back out. However, by the time I got to him, he was already standing up. We met face to face. I put my shaking hands up repeating, “Please no! Please no!”
He got more and more violent as the night went on. I remember pleading for heavenly help. Those prayers were immediately answered. I know angels were there that awful night helping me and Kayli fight this man and his evil intentions. Our fight continued for several minutes. He was a manipulator. He knew exactly what he was doing. He wanted nothing else but to kill and most likely rape us. As scared as I was that night, I never felt alone.
After violently kicking Kayli down the stairs, pushing me down the stairs, punching, kicking, elbowing, and even strangling my sister up against the same wall her head went through stopping her flying body from being kicked down the stairs, he knew we weren’t stopping. That’s when he pulled out his hunting knife. I’ll never forget grabbing the cold dirty blade and calmly telling Kayli, “He has a knife. We need more help. Go! Go get more help.” She didn’t want to leave me. I’ll never forget the sound of her voice when she said, “No! I’m not leaving you.” I have felt heartache before, but no other heartache will ever compare to the heartache I had of watching my little sister run up the stairs leaving me to find more help. As soon as she got to the top of the stair our evil attacker started stabbing me. Once again, I calmly and softly said, “Kayli he’s stabbing me. He’s stabbing me.” Then Kayli’s legs were gone. I could no longer see her. I knew she had gone looking for more help.
While she was running up and down our street screaming for help, I was in our dark basement on the cold cement laundry room floor being stabbed. I knew I was going to die within minutes. After he stabbed me, where he knew would quickly kill me, he stood up with the bloody blade pointing towards me while his bald head looked over his left shoulder. “Now I’m going to get your little sister.” He laughed as if what he had done and what he was about to do was so pleasing and gratifying. There was no way I was going to let him walk up the same stairs Kayli ran up for help. With angels, I was able to jump up and tackle the 6’2” monster.
Our fight continued. Now kneeling on my elbows with his left hand holding down my forehead, he raised his long right arm up above his bald head with the blade point to my chest. He quickly and forcefully dropped his right hand trying to stab me in the chest. It was then I felt something familiar. It wasn’t a spiritual experience in the moment by any means, but I knew I was being protected. I looked as the blade of his knife came down directly over my chest and seeing it be stopped by something. A “shield” is the only way I know how to describe it. He tried 5-6 times with the same result. With built up anger in his scariest voice he yelled, “Why isn’t this working?... Fine! I’ll stab you in the head.” Instead of feeling a “shield,” I felt his bony knuckles graze the side of my head. The bloody blade stabbed the suitcase my head was on two times.
After realizing that wasn’t going to work we fought some more. We ended up sitting on the cold cement floor up against my washer. He had the knife in his right hand with the cold blade up against my throat. His right arm was flexed as he prepared to slit my throat, once and for all ending my life. His left arm was wrapped around the top of my body. I could feel his soft, sweaty, ripped chest up against my back as he lifted both of his long heavy legs over mine crossing them to insure no movement on my part. “You can kill me just please don’t kill my sister.” I repeated as I was thinking of never seeing my family again. I could feel the warm tears, just like the tears I felt in China, feel my no longer innocent eyes. “Why would he do this to me?” “I don’t deserve this.” The thought of “I’m never going to see Kayli again” snowballed into, “I’m never going to see my mom, dad, sisters, brother, brother in law, nephew or anyone else again” and for no reason. My attacker was joyfully taking my life, my dreams, my potential, my goals, my future, my everything away from me and for NO reason. I was wrapped in the arms & legs of evil. I have never felt so disgusted, so scared, or so violated.
I felt his evil lips whisper against my ear as he cowardly hid his head behind mine whisper, “I’m going to kill you.” Then I heard the voice of my earthly angel, SLCP Officer Ben Hone say, “Salt Lake City Police Department drop the knife.” I’ll never forget seeing his eyes and immediately feeling safe. Then I realized something, I was in the arms of evil as a complete stranger was violently trying to take my life. While, looking at another complete stranger probably ten feet away from me risk his life to save mine. That’s exactly what he did. Officer Ben Hone took a single shot taking my attacker’s life and saving mine. I felt my attacker die. I heard the knife drop. My hair flew up as the bullet hit my attacker literally an inch away from my face. I felt the weight of his dead arms and legs press against my body. I felt evil leave. I felt pure goodness. I felt pure love. I felt the reality of the sacrifice Officer Hone made to save me. I felt safe.
In three days it will be seven months since the attack. I went to church therapy where I was told to “Let the Atonement take it.” While I am grateful the church offers therapy and I know it has helped hundreds of people as a good needed resource “Let the Atonement take it.” was not what I was looking for or needed weeks after the attack. I have a testimony of Our Savior, more than ever now than before. I knew the Atonement was what was going to eventually heal me, but I needed/need to do my part before handing it over. I wanted to find ways to help me deal with the fear, anxiety, depression, and low self worth before I handed “it” over to the Savior’s Atonement. If “Faith without works is dead.” how does simply handing it over work? It doesn’t (at least not for me). I believe and have learned through my experience, in order for the Atonement to take whatever our fight is, we have to 1. Believe it can. 2. Do whatever we can do to get to a healthy understanding mental place where we know how to handle triggers, hard days, and real feelings. 3. Work hard and use resources available to help us individually. 4. THEN have the Atonement help us endure.
I was told several times, “Go back to the temple and you’ll heal so much faster.” Please don’t take any of this in the wrong way, I full heartedly believe in Our Savior, His Restored Gospel, and in the power and blessings that come from living a temple worthy life. I know the temple is the House of the Lord. I know the covenants made are the most important covenants one can ever make with real heavenly binds and blessings. I love the temple and will always strive to live worthily to visit often. That being said, I have to be honest. The first time I went back to the temple after the attack, I felt something I had never felt before. I felt the reality of Satan and his power and was scared. I have never been “scared” in the temple before. I knew it was solely because weeks prior I had experience pure evil. While sitting there I was reminded of my attacker and was so scared, I wanted to stand up and leave. I couldn’t stand knowing the reality of evil and how Satan’s power was used to force so much change into my life because of hold he had on my attacker and the influence he had on my attacker’s choices.
For months I was too scared/nervous to attend the temple, because I didn’t want to be reminded of the evilness I witnessed on September 23rd. After the months passed, I realized I was putting my fear of Satan before my faith in Christ. As soon as I realized what I was unintentionally doing, I went back and had a completely different experience. I was reminded of the protecting power of the covenants we make. I was reminded of Heavenly Father’s constant effort to show His children His love in more ways than one. I was reminded of the all-encompassing love and power the atonement offers everyone, even my attacker. I realized since the time of Adam and Eve, all of us are living (in a way) close to evil as well as close to righteousness/goodness.
At times we will feel inadequate or even guilty for not being the perfect cookie cutter Mormon. I know I felt that way when I was too nervous to attend the temple or when I was ticked leaving my therapist’s room after she told me the reason I was struggling was because, “[I] wasn’t letting the atonement take it over.” Since then, I know she meant well and I was unsure how to communicate my feelings with her. We all know Peter wasn’t the best of the best and was definitely not the “cookie cutter” apostle. But, he continuously tried. When he was in the midst of the terrible storm on the same boat as all the other apostles when they all saw Christ, it was Peter who physically showed his faith by getting out of the boat to walk towards Christ. The other apostles had faith. Infact their faith was so great they recognized the Savior from far away, but it was Peter who left the boat. Did he lose faith on the way? A little. Don’t we all? That’s not the part that mattered. What mattered is the fact he tried and kept trying. When he started to sink, he didn’t look anywhere else, but towards the Savior as he cried for help. That’s when the Savior IMMEDIATELY stretched forth his hand and saved him. He will do the same for you as you keep trying. YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT.
I have learned throughout my healing, Our Savior needs to be my focus. As I work hard doing whatever I need to do to get better, if I’m focusing on Him and if I continue to get to know Him so He is always recognizable, I will be okay.
He is real. I know the familiar feeling I had that terrible night was no one else, but my Savior protecting me. I know the blessings from trying our best to live the covenants we make are life saving.
Brigham Young said, “If you have fears, tell them to go to hell. That’s where they’re from.” I know your fears are different than mine, but it doesn’t make them less scary. Have more faith in Our Savior than fear in your fight. Don’t let others opinions or actions determine who you are. Remember you are a daughter/son of the most loving powerful Heavenly King.