Bree Williams of Louisville, KY radiates positivity and joy in abundance. Every day she wakes up, plans her day, and affirms that today will be a great day, no matter who she comes into contact with or whatever the day may bring. She currently works for Chewy and specifically with customer service. This job requires a large amount of empathy, as people can feel very intensely about their pets.
She is also a very hard worker, and was celebrating some good news on the day her life changed forever.
Around 4:00 p.m. on March 7th, 2021 Bree was in the comfort of her home at The Villages of Hikes Point, on the phone with her sister. She had just landed a contract to clean AirBnB locations in and around Louisville. At the time, in addition to her regular job at Kentucky Farm Bureau, Bree ran a cleaning business. She was celebrating the good news when she looked through her blinds and noticed a situation enveloping outside; one of her neighbors was in a fight with someone. “[Redacted] is out here attacking somebody with a machete…oh my God he’s going to kill him!”
Bree proceeded to call 911 anonymously, detailing that someone was being attacked with a machete on Kozy Kreek Drive, carefully avoiding giving any information that would identify Bree as the caller. Police eventually arrived, and detained the attacker. For some reason, the attacker was allowed to go back inside, and the police left the scene. After watching the scene from her apartment, Bree turned back to her kitchen while still on the phone with her sister. Suddenly she heard the door to her apartment open, and Bree heard a voice behind her from inside her apartment.
“‘I heard you been talking,’ is what he says.”
Bree “...didn’t have time to do anything. I didn’t know what to do, I just knew I was being confronted with my neighbor with a machete. I thought this was it for me, I’m about to die.”
She wasn’t ready to die though. “I had to fight back, and my hands were my defense.”
The attack poured outside of the apartment, where her assailant attacked the back of her head, her neck, and other locations on her body. “I was repenting, I was praying, and I remember his face and the evil that I witnessed in his face looking down at me as he was attacking me. I kept saying, ‘Jesus,’ and I remember [the neighbor] saying, ‘Shut the ___ up.’ I just rolled over and laid there. I was depleted, I had no more energy, and I felt the life leave my body.” Bree was left in a pool of her own blood. Eventually, Bree’s son arrived on the scene, at which point the neighbor ran away and tried escaping into nearby businesses. Bree blacked out before emergency services could arrive.
Bree was taken to UofL Health for emergency care. She had received intense injuries from the machete to her entire body. “I felt hopeless. I cried most of the time I was there, and I didn’t know what was going on. I was confused. This was during COVID, so I couldn’t have visitors, but my son was allowed to come in…on the other side of that though, they [UofL staff] took great care of me!”
Initially, her recovery was challenging. Bree was still in a tremendous amount of pain (in addition to dealing with the mental pain and anger from her attack that she was still processing). As a result, she initially refused some of her treatments and rehabilitation efforts to get her up and moving. This changed however after a visit from a man from Frazier Rehabilitation Institute. This individual informed Bree, “If you don’t get up and move around, you may stay in this condition.” At that moment, Bree accepted the man’s help and within a few minutes Bree and the man were walking out into the hallway together - more movement than Bree had done in weeks.
This led to the turnaround that resulted in Bree continuing along the path towards physical and mental recovery. “That’s what I used as my stepping stone to heal and move forward in my healing. Accepting what happened, not blaming myself, and forgiving the person who did this to me. I felt a huge burden lifted from me when I said, ‘Lord, I forgive him.’ When I said that, I felt like freedom had just hit me.”
Bree continued to heal and regain her independence through outpatient care, with her family playing a pivotal role throughout the process; after all, she needed help with everyday things that required the use of her hands. She notes that initially, she would miss simple things like getting her nails done, worried that she couldn’t enjoy getting them done because her hands weren’t healed fully. Now, she gets them painted often, in bright, vibrant pastel colors. “I like bright colors, it just reminds me of life, living, and nature.”
“One of my therapists always told me to smell the roses and blow out the candles. I did that to help calm my spirit because I would get so anxious to try and do things that I normally would do before my injuries. When I was in therapy I had to learn how to walk, dress myself, feed myself…I breathed through any of the anxiety I was feeling.”
Bree’s positivity continues to shine brightly to this day. Upon reflecting on the events of March 7th, 2021, Bree is able to look past the event itself and maintain a sense of hope and optimism in everything else life can be.
“In a world full of negativity, and trauma, how do you take it day by day? Do you fall victim to what’s going on in the world, or do you decide to live and move forward in happiness and love? I like life, and I like the beauty of it, and I like people.”