CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A survivor and advocate against drunk driving encourages other crime victims to seek help and find power through their pain.

With a deep breath, a lot of anxiety, and strength, now 26-year-old Kristen Mallory reflected on the day years ago when her teenage self had a one-on-one conversation with the drunk driver who changed her life.

“I went into it telling everybody that I wasn’t going to forgive him,” Mallory said.

She spoke to him through the Virginia Department of Correction’s Victim Offender Dialogue program.

It’s one form of help Mallory sought years after the scariest forty-five minutes of her life. When she sat pinned in her car following a hull street crash after a drunk driver hit her car, Mallory remembered feeling alone.

“Two broken legs, two broken hands, broken collarbone, and the break in my left leg,” Mallory listed off the physical impacts her body had after the crash. “The break cut off blood flow. So I almost lost that leg. But thankfully, they were able to save it.”

Kristen Mallory recovering in the hospital following the crash. (Photo courtesy of Susan Mallory)

The pain and trauma she fought through culminated in a sense of empowerment. Mallory remembered wanting to confront the driver years later.

“Living with lots of different chronic illnesses due to the car crash and a lot of pain,” Mallory began. “So I’m mostly in a wheelchair when I’m out and home. When I’m home, I’m dealing with a lot of medical issues and require using a walker. Right now. And so my mobility’s not great.”

The Chesterfield woman spent around seven hours talking with the man. This conversation helped her to unlock a new mindset. Despite initially planning not to forgive him, she realized she did forgive him after all.

“It just felt like such a weight lifted off of my shoulders,” Mallory recalled. “I don’t even know kind of how it happened; but we took a picture together and he gave me a hug and I hugged him.”

The survivor — and now advocate against drunk driving — noted how not every victim’s recovery story is the same. Some might need a different approach to reach that degree of relief and closure. That’s why “Mallory’s Movement Against Drunk Driving” — Kristen’s family’s non-profit — will join more than 50 other organizations at Richmond’s “Show of Support” resource fair and 5K on April 15.

Kristen Mallory speaking through her non-profit “Mallory’s Movement Against Drunk Driving” to raise awareness. (Photo courtesy of Susan Mallory)

Kristen left a word to survivors.

“Keep pushing and to know that you aren’t alone,” Mallory said.

Anyone can attend the April 15th event. Mallory told 8News that even if you aren’t a victim of a violent crime, simply attending the event to show support can mean the world to a survivor.

For more information on registration for the event click here.