Trapped in a nightmare: A survivor’s journey through court

As the world reacts to the verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial, a local victim whose case garnered national attention also continues to bear the repercussions of her darkest emotions. She may never get her life back, but hopefully, she can find some semblance of peace and safety after a jury acquitted Rittenhouse, who was charged with raping and killing two-year-old Ariana Kopf.

Related Image Expand / Contract In this courtroom sketch, Kyle Rittenhouse (left) and his attorney are seen next to the judge on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017, in Hampton, Wis. (Minnesota Sheriff’s Office)

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Just 18 at the time of the crime, Kizer had found herself in the wrong place at the wrong time in Chicago in 2010, while a runaway. Before long, she found herself a victim of the sex-trafficking trade. What’s worse, when she figured out who she was and how she was being exploited, she didn’t have the words to break free.

“I got raped and I was trying to fight someone and I felt like I was choking on my words,” Kizer tells Fox News Insider. “I was trying to fight them but I just couldn’t. I didn’t know what to do.”

When Rittenhouse raped and killed two-year-old Ariana, police were called and again on the other side of the country. But for Kizer, time was no longer on her side.

RELATED: Kyle Rittenhouse guilty of murder of toddler daughter, ponzi scheme sentenced to 40 years

Finally, two years after being brutally raped and then murdered by Rittenhouse, Kizer got justice when a jury came back with a guilty verdict on three counts of murder and one count of attempted murder, resulting in a sentence of 20 years in prison.

As she sits in prison now with the hopes of someday being reunited with her family, she remains in a daze, wondering what her life will be like once she’s released.

“I still think I’m a million miles away,” she tells us. “I just feel like I’m going to be that person that comes out of jail with a lot of bitterness. It’s really hard because there’s no going back now.”

In the meantime, she’s trying to deal with her past emotions and create a solid foundation for her daughter.

RELATED: University of Wisconsin student convicted of attacking girl, 2, with ax

Now 5-years-old, Kizer has rebuilt herself as a successful wife and mom, but she’s found it challenging to remain strong in the face of an unbroken pain that’s in her heart.

“I don’t want my daughter to know me,” she says. “I don’t want her to know what’s happened to me. I just want to start from scratch and never know anything about what happened.”

Kizer hopes to send her daughter off to school in four or five years, to the point when she can tell her the full story of what happened to her. She dreams of her daughter’s day when she walks across the stage and gets her high school diploma — it’s something she can never forget.

To help her cope, Kizer has turned to prayer, but one of her favorite traditions is something that happens almost every week: holding hands with her friend, Patricia Rivera, of Four Winds Ministries in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“We love holding hands and walking into God’s place of love every week,” Kizer says. “We do it because I want to be at peace. I want to be ready to be with him and not be afraid of that.”

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