Cara Robinson said she was encouraged by fellow survivor Elizabeth Smart to share her story in ‘Escaping Captivity: The Cara Robinson Story’.
At age 15, Kara Robinson was kidnapped at gunpoint by a serial killer from her friend’s front yard in Columbia, SC—and her first instinct was to survive.
Nearly 20 years later, she’s now sharing the story of her kidnapping on Oxygen and Hulu in a new true-crime documentary titled “Escaping Captivity: The Kara Robinson Story.” It contains first-hand accounts of Robinson himself as well as his family, friends and investigators involved in his case.
“I want to help people,” she told Granthshala News about why she chose her past for the special. “I realized that if I was going to do this, I would have to tell my story… I wanted to control it. I wanted to make sure the story was told in the right way. So I went to my friend reached up [kidnapping survivor and child safety activist] Elizabeth Smart. I told him it was something I wanted to do. He recommended the team I ended up working with and they have been so wonderful through this process.”
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It was 2002 when the quiet life of a high school student turned into a nightmare. After Robinson is taken in broad daylight by her prisoner, she is taken to a dark storage container and taken to her apartment where she is repeatedly sexually assaulted.
For 18 hours, Robinson was held against his will. Throughout the test, she was determined to pay attention to her surroundings, remembering as many details as possible.
“We all have this survival mechanism within us,” she explained. “And I feel like it’s nothing you can control. But I feel like my body has gotten into that survival mode. For me, I wanted to make sure I collected as much information as possible.” And wait for him to be complacent.”
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“That was my way of fighting back,” she continued. “So I think the fight-or-flight mechanism that we all have was a big part of my existence. And I also think – and I still am – a very strong-willed person. I don’t want to.” Was that he was better than me.”
Robinson managed to free himself from her bondage while the man who took her fell asleep. She ran and went straight into a car in the parking lot. He begged the people inside to take him directly to the police.
“It took a while for the relief to kick in,” she admitted. “Because my prisoner ran away [after my escape]… so it was a slow process. But I really wanted my life to go back to normal. I didn’t want anyone to treat me differently. The way I dealt with things was to let go of all my emotions. I had no emotional connection to what had happened to me. I just wanted everyone to forget that too.”
Robinson shared, “I think one of the biggest things I faced was assuming they knew how I felt or how to heal me.” “… My biggest long-term effect of my trauma was dissociation… I was shutting down my emotions and I wasn’t feeling things… I’ve started getting over it.”
After Robinson escaped, his kidnapper fled to Sarasota, Fla. But thanks to her testimony as well as a tip from her own sister, the police were able to track her down. Richard Ivonitz took his own life at the age of 38, after being surrounded by law enforcement officers.
Evidence found that his apartment linked Ivonitz to the kidnappings and murders of three Spotsylvania County, Va., girls — Sofia Silva, 16; Kristin Lisk, 15; and her sister, Katie Lisk, 12. Notes discovered by investigators indicate that Ivonitz already had an eye on other potential victims. Those notes contained the addresses as well as their details of two other young girls.
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The documentary revealed that Robinson was furious, Avonitz committed suicide because she wanted to face him in court.
“I wanted him to know I had kicked him out,” she explained. “I wanted him to know that in choosing me, I wasn’t going to be his intended victim. He was the kind of criminal who chased people. I wasn’t in my usual place in my usual time, so I Wasn’t an intended victim. So I wanted him to know that choosing me, his victim of opportunity, was his biggest mistake ever.”
“I was a little pissed about it,” Robinson said. “My feelings have escalated over the years to feeling relieved that he killed himself because I never got to go to trial. I never got to sit in court and talk about all the details about what happened to me.” I never have to worry about her freaking out or having to do it.
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“But I am still angry in many ways for different reasons. Now I am angry because I think he is responsible for other crimes. Now it will be very difficult to identify him as the person responsible for those crimes . and I think we would have been able to link him to some things if it weren’t for the fact that he killed himself.”
But Robinson still wanted to find a way and help others. In 2010, he graduated from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy, WISTV.com informed of. He also began working with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department as a school resource officer. Today the married mother of two is active on TikTok where she hopes to uplift other survivors.
“… whenever a criminal chooses a victim, they often choose someone who doesn’t look like they’re going to put up a fight, so to speak,” she said. “There are different ways we can move ourselves, make eye contact with people. When you’re walking, don’t get distracted and observe your surroundings… but really “A stranger kidnapping or a stranger attack is a lot more rare than anyone knows. I’m very passionate about helping people assess and maintain healthy boundaries.”
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Looking back, Robinson said the story of his survival is hope.
“Even the negative things that happen to us, we get to choose whether it’s something that’s going to define us, or if it’s something that’s going to refine us,” she said. said. “It’s about leading your way, taking that power back into your own hands, and taking back your life.”
“Escaping Captivity: The Kara Robinson Story” airs Friday, October 15 at 10 a.m. ET on Oxygen. The special is also available for streaming on Hulu.