HOUSTON — Natalie Romero has made a remarkable physical recovery over the past year.
However, she says the psychological and emotional journey she has experienced has been even more excruciating.
The Houston native was one of several counter-protestors who was plowed down by a car at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, at this time last year. The attack killed one person.
Romero suffered a fractured skull, a lip laceration, and still has ongoing pain from injuries to her knee and ankle.
She has also been diagnosed with PTSD.
The 21-year-old driver has since been indicted on 29 hate crime charges.
She says this weekend, which is the anniversary of the violence that almost killed her, will be difficult.
“I’m an emotional wreck today, actually, and I probably will be for the rest of the weekend,” Romero says.
The 21-year-old college student has become one of the faces of last year’s tragedy.
“I was just out there doing what I believed in. I don’t regret what happened to me, and I don’t feel if I turned back time, I would do anything other than what I did,” she says.
The car attack brought a tragic end to a weekend of violence led by pro-Nazi supporters.
This weekend many major cities are gearing up for possible white supremacist rallies to mark the anniversary of last year’s horrific events.
Romero says not a day goes by that she doesn’t think about how to combat hatred in our nation.
“It’s not just Neo-Nazis marching on the ground. It’s like, overall white supremacy in our country, how it affects us in schools, how it affects us on a daily basis.”
She says seeing people mobilize to stop hate groups makes her hopeful. The petite University of Virginia student, herself, has a big presence as an activist.
“Spiritually and emotionally, it’s been very traumatic, but at the same time, I’ve grown a lot as a person and now I just want to use my privilege to help others.”
Romero says this weekend she’s looking forward to having quiet family time.
She’s planning to go to the beach, eat at city restaurants, and spend time with her mom and two younger siblings. She goes back to school in Virginia on Tuesday. She will be a junior, focusing on global development studies.