The Charger Blog

Machete Attack Survivor Tells University Community, ‘I’ve Never Been Encouraged to Wallow in Victimhood’

Kay Wilson, who survived a brutal attack in Israel in 2010, recently visited the University of New Haven as part of a new speaker series about promoting human rights. She shared her story of surviving the attack and how the harrowing experience changed her perspective on life.

November 25, 2019

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing & Communications

Image of Kay Wilson
Kay Wilson shared her inspiring story of survival with the University community.

Jacob Rodriguez ’21, a criminal justice major, was one the many students who was eager to hear the inspiring story of survival shared by Kay Wilson.

A British-born Israeli tour guide, author, jazz musician, and cartoonist, Wilson and her friend were brutally attacked nearly 10 years ago while walking through a forest near Jerusalem. Wilson was stabbed 13 times and was nearly killed, and her friend did not survive. Wilson wrote The Rage Less Traveled, a memoir about the attack and her life afterward. Her visit to the University of New Haven was her only stop in the northeast on a very limited speaker tour she is currently conducting.

“I was glad that one of my professors mentioned her talk in class and encouraged us to attend,” he said. “Speakers like Ms. Wilson are important because you can see the emotion – it is different from reading about someone’s story.”

"When we remember where we came from, we appreciate what we have. I know what freedom is because I know what it is to be held hostage." Kay Wilson

Discussing her “Ten Commandments” – the lessons she learned from the attack and her recovery – Wilson encouraged students to take responsibility for their actions, and to laugh.

“I’ve never been encouraged to wallow in victimhood,” said Wilson. “I want you to laugh, even at me. That’s because we have beaten my attackers.”

Before Wilson’s talk, titled, “The Rage Less Traveled: Surviving a Terrorist Attack,” the University community watched Black Forest, a documentary that tells the story of the attack and the subsequent investigation. Her attackers were ultimately caught, and she faced then in court during the trial.

“When we remember where we came from, we appreciate what we have,” said Wilson. “I know what freedom is because I know what it is to be held hostage.”

Wilson was the last of four speakers to visit the University this semester as part of the Human Rights Law and Policy Speaker Series, which was created by a sub-committee of the University's Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) Council in response to the growing number of incidents of antisemitism across the United States. It endeavors to explore new approaches to combat these incidents – especially on college campuses.

Brittany Mann ’21 also attended Wilson’s talk, and she was grateful for the opportunity to hear her message.

“She has a fascinating story,” said Mann, an accounting major. “It is very relevant to so much of what is going on in the world. Speakers like Ms. Wilson present a good opportunity for students to learn more about what we are discussing in our classes.”