Domestic violence is a topic that is commonly overlooked and avoided, often because it is too difficult a subject to even talk about. But for Pacific University senior Kayla Knock, domestic violence is more than just a topic of conversation, it was a 10-year reality.
Knock, who is captain of the women’s swim team and currently studying public health at Pacific, said she had to deal with an abusive relationship with her father for the majority of her childhood.
“He was very physically and verbally abusive to me, my mom and my two brothers,” Knock said. “It’s something that happened for the first ten years of my life, and for ten years my family was in denial about it.”
Though Knock said she is currently in a great place in her life, with graduation and the possibility of graduate school just around the corner, she still works to make an impact in the world and bring to light the domestic violence hidden behind closed doors. Knock’s work to promote domestic violence prevention, and to share her own story in an attempt to make a difference in the lives of others, was started after she met with and was inspired by a fellow victim of domestic violence.
“From that experience I was able to confront my biological father for the first time, who I hadn’t spoken to in years and I was able to ask him why he was so abusive,” Knock said. “People who are abusive and manipulative will always be that way, but for me to have the courage to stand up to someone who I was terrified of for most of my childhood was really powerful.”
Nine months ago, Knock got involved with the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence to continue to try and raise awareness and spur further discussions surrounding domestic violence. With the coalition, Knock said she is able to attend meetings and talk to and spend time talk with other victims who have had similar experiences to her.
Knock, who has competed in the Miss Oregon USA pageants for the last four years and most recently won first-runner-up, said she plans to continue competing in pageants in the future as she feels it gives her a platform and outlet to speak out on important issues.
“I want to win pageants so my voice will be heard and I can really make a difference,” Knock said. “I’m going to keep going with the hope of saving hundreds of lives and hopefully bring awareness to something that is completely overlooked in the world today.”