BILLINGS — A Billings combat veteran is unveiling a female soldier’s truth in a new tell-all book called ‘Shattered Reflections.’ It’s helped her heal from trauma in the battlefield 20 years later, and now she hopes it can help others heal too.
“June 27, 2003: I’m not too sure how to put this day into words,” says Billings Army combat veteran and author Dallas Knight, as she read from her journal entry. “I woke up this morning at 0700 with the intention of calling Mom. We pulled out of the prison, then it was as if I stepped into a movie. There was a very loud boom. All I saw was a cloud mixed in black smoke and brown dust. I looked again and saw a body lying to the side.”
It’s a chilling journal entry in its raw, unedited form, and you can read it in Knight’s new book.
“When I went off to basic training, I was essentially training for war,” says Knight.
Twenty years later, Knight is taking on her trauma from the war zone in Baghdad, where she was a military police officer at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison. She was one of only a few women in her unit.
“During that time that I was deployed, I kept a journal. I had this overwhelming need to open it because in 19 years, I hadn't read it,” says Knight. Every once and a while I would open it up. Most of the time I closed it and I vowed to never open it again.”
It took six months and a therapist to help her get through all 88 journal entries, which were written in pink and purple pen, when she was just 19 years old.
“It was my way of still embracing that feminine side,” says Knight.
The choice of ink color came at a time when she lacked control of her daily environment, including what to eat, drink, rations and using the bathroom.
“They dug a big trench, just think of a trench as long as a football field,” says Knight. "When they got full or nasty, they’d come over and fill in the trench and dig another one. Those things aren’t really discussed and people don’t really know what it was like.”
But if you pick up a copy of this book, you’ll know exactly what it was like serving as a woman among an abundance of men.
“At 19, I was suppressing everything that told me that I wanted to be a female and respond with emotion, and I tried to act like a man and allow the masculine side to come forth,” explains Knight. “It's confusing and exhausting, but somewhat necessary. I watched this evolution of myself become emotionally walled off.”
Her reading, writing and healing journey allowed her to fully process emotions one journal entry at a time.
“September 9, 2003: I’m working in the yard today,” says Knight as she reads a journal entry. “I really don’t like being out here because the prisoners are perverted and I feel really uncomfortable.”
Knight hopes her words help readers process their traumas too as they read every entry, complete with footnotes and reflections.
For more information or to order a copy of the book, visit this link.
Knight invites anyone to attend her book launch party Saturday, Sept. 23, in downtown Billings at St. Johns United Gainan's Commons from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m..