A law enforcement group recently honored a Tulsa girl for her exceptional courage. Monserrat was just 8 years old when she was kidnapped by a stranger and assaulted.
"May 4, 2014, an absolutely exceptional young lady was kidnapped by a horrible individual," said Brian Surber, the President of the Association of Oklahoma Narcotic Enforcers. "Those officers out there that night, they sign up for this, train for this, they're adults, they get paid for it. An 8-year-old girl does not. 'And, Monzy, I want you to know, the bravery and courage you displayed that night and continue to display to this day, inspires all of us.' That is the exceptional courage and valor that merits this award."
"Initially, I was really scared, but throughout the whole thing, I started to be calm, like numb because I was like, this is my life now. I'm stuck here," Monserrat said.
Police were frantically searching for her until they got a tip about a man in Sapulpa acting strangely. Ron Teel was a Creek County deputy at the time. When he saw the license plate on that man's car, Ron knew it was the Amber Alert car. The suspect, Michael Slatton, didn't go easy.
"He's putting it in gear. I'm knocking it back in neutral. He gets it into drive, pulls out and starts dragging me," said Teel.
The deputy was flung across the street, but despite being bloodied and injured, Teel quickly called for backup. In no time, officers found Slatton, but not little Monserrat. They feared the worst until they saw her, standing all alone, hands tied, with a blanket over her face.
"I hear another car pulling up to the sidewalk and thought, oh, it's going to happen all over again, another person who's going to come get me. I didn't see any hope," said Monserrat.
When the blanket was removed, she saw the red and blue lights and knew she'd been saved.
9 months later, Monserrat walked into a courtroom filled with strangers and face-to-face with her attacker, she told her story. Michael Slatton was sent to prison for 120 years.
"It kind of felt like relief, knowing he would be in there for a long time and that I wouldn't have to go through it again and also, I felt happy because other girls wouldn't have to go through that," Monserrat said.
She believes therapy helped her so much and she even wrote a book that's now used to help other children.Monserrat said she's so grateful to the officers and prosecutors who were there for her then and who still stay in touch with her today.
"I just feel love for them, so amazing to me," said Monserrat.
She has an important message for other children living with trauma.
"It will get better,” Monserrat said. “At the beginning it's going to be a little bit rough, but throughout the years, it's going to be easy and [you'll] realize you're not a victim, you're a survivor.”