Martina Rawlings Trauma SurvivorA note from the author: Martina’s story is extraordinary, even by the high standards these stories of trauma survivorship have established. In many cases, the trauma survivors were burn victims, or otherwise victims of gun violence (or other weapons) perpetrated by an unknown assailant. The attempted murder of Martina Rawlings was carried out by her best friend of 27 years. As one might expect, this dynamic adds multiple intense layers of complexity that cannot be explained or even conveyed in something as short as this story. Our interview lasted well over 3 hours, and even in that much time there was still so much to unpack that we did not get a chance to dive into or expand upon.

Please be mindful of these facts as you read the story of Martina Rawlings. This is a heavily abridged version of Martina’s story, and more information and details about her story will be published in the coming weeks.

Martina Rawlings of Louisville, KY, has long been described as, “the mom of the group.” From a very early age, she always felt an intense responsibility to those she cared for, to include friends and family (and in many cases, friends who became family).

One such friend is Martina’s best friend [name redacted, referred to herein as Marinta’s best friend] of 27 years. From the time they were children, Martina would go above and beyond to give all that she had to care for her best friend. This includes taking on roles such as caregiver, protector, provider, mentor, and so much more. Words fail to describe the depths of selflessness that Martina poured into their relationship, and overtime her best friend became her sister. This love could at times feel like a one-way street; oftentimes her best friend would take the love that poured out of Martina, without reciprocating. This put an obvious strain on their friendship and after some time the two stopped talking.

On the evening of July 9th, 2019, Martina had decided to go out for a night on the town after handling work and family responsibilities. After reaching out to several of her friends about different locations, she decided to head out to Legends Legendary Lounge and Venue in downtown Louisville. After checking her phone for a time, she eventually looked up and noticed her best friend walking towards her and was eventually joined by her new boyfriend. Martina notes that, over the years, her best friend’s boyfriends would all try to get on Martina’s good side; it was evident that the two were close, and Martina often shielded her best friend from the worst of these suitors. This led to a confusing buildup of resentment, jealousy, and other emotions from the best friend. In this particular relationship, the boyfriend was trying to position the two women against each other.

Martina looked around and noticed that her best friend and her boyfriend had surrounded Martina in the club with a handful of people, not a good sign. “Where we come from, I know what this means. I didn’t think she was bold enough to try anything, but the fact that she would even entertain this is a problem for me.” It was an overt attempt at intimidation, for reasons Martina still doesn’t fully understand. The group exited the venue, and returned to the best friend’s house off of Patricia Drive around 3:17 a.m. Oddly, as Martina gets out of her car to confront her best friend about what had just happened, her best friend tried hitting Martina with her car. Martina tried fleeing the scene, at which point, her best friend of 27 years had begun shooting at her. Matina was hit several times, and consequently was paralyzed from the waist down. She was taken to UofL Health for emergency treatment.Martina Rawlings Trauma Survivor

Martina’s recovery process was extremely challenging. She experienced multiple complications and difficulties during her time with UofL Health and the Frazier Rehabilitation Institute, but notes that the UofL Health team did an incredible job helping her to recover and connect with others who have been traumatized themselves.

Martina has been wheelchair-bound ever since she was shot. However, through her perserverance, intense personal research, dietary selections, and a commitment to exercise, something of a miracle has begun to happen. Martina is slowly regaining the use of her legs, something the team at UofL Health considers miraculous. She has slowly started to be able to move her feet and her legs, and moments before our interview she was able to extend and raise her toes. Martina continues to heal and recover to this day, and the UofL Health team is eager to see where her recovery takes her.

Martina Rawlings.


Trauma Survivor.

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