Crime victim tells her story — no pity, please

Christine Kent speaks at the Center for Independent Living in Broward. Kent received an award for her victim advocacy at the 20th Anniversary Celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act. (Ginny Dixon, Correspondent)

She could dwell on the memory of the gun cocking behind her head. Or the sick feeling that overcame her when she saw her leg swing "like a rag doll"—the moment she knew she was paralyzed.

But Christine Kent, 46, isn't the type to host a pity party.

Instead Kent, the victim of a harrowing attack three years ago Wednesday that left her in a wheelchair, is a motivational speaker, a victims advocate, and a mentor to strangers who seek her out for help to deal with their own suffering.

CNN recently featured the former runway model when she completed the Fort Lauderdale A1A Marathon in a tricycle-like contraption called a handcycle. She was part of the TV show "I Survived" on The Biography Channel in January. The show was broadcast nine times, most recently on July 19, A&E television officials said.

Kent said since then, she's gotten calls from people all over the country who need the encouragement they feel only she can provide.

One woman wanted coping tips for a divorce. A man asked how to go on after his wife was murdered.

And working long-distance via e-mails, Kent helps them, and others, get through the day.

"They say, 'Look at what this girl went through and she's still smiling,'" said Kent. " 'What do I have to be so miserable about?'"

She knows a thing or two about struggling.

Almost a decade ago, when Kent was working at the front desk of a doctor's office, patient Allan Sinclair IV asked her out. She said no, it would be improper. A year went by and she ran into him at Home Depot, where he worked. He offered to help her with gardening.

"He was no longer a patient and it never hurts to have too many friends," she said. She accepted his offer and, for a time, he dated a friend of hers. Three years went by with no contact at all.

On Aug. 4, 2007, Sinclair showed up at her Oakland Park home as she was unloading groceries.

Kent welcomed him inside. They looked through some photos. And then he walked up behind her, cocked a pistol at her head, and told her to lie down on the couch.

"I thought, I'm not going to go out like this." So rather than obey, she kept talking, and made a run for it. She got as far as the front yard. One bullet hit her foot; the other pierced her spine, cutting her liver in half.

She landed face up on the gravel driveway, stunned, hurt, scared, and saw him get into his SUV and head straight for her. She started screaming: "Please don't run over me!"

But he did, even turning the steering wheel while the SUV was on her body. Then he drove off.

Unable to move, she screamed for help. Someone called 911.

Before rescuers arrived, Sinclair came back. She could hear somebody slowly walk up behind her. He dragged her by the ankles and tried to hide her behind some hedges.

"Why did you do this to me?" she wailed.