Muncher, then a sophomore, was so eager to start classes that she returned to Tuscaloosa after Christmas break rather than going to Las Vegas with her family to watch 2010 Miss Alabama Ashley Davis compete in the Miss America Pageant.
The night that they left, Muncher finished unpacking and took a shower to relax before bedtime.
She heard her dogs barking while in the shower but assumed that they were playing with each other.
As she walked out of the bathroom and rounded a corner, Muncher saw an intruder standing in the middle of the living room.
Police later determined that the man had gained access to the apartment because the deadbolt on the door was not fastened securely enough.
Muncher started screaming in spite of his instructions to remain quiet. Then she did something that surprised her attacker.
“I punched him, and that gave me enough time to run down the hallway and scream for help,” she said.
When Muncher rushed back to her apartment to rescue her dogs, she found the man choking one of the animals.
She landed several more kicks and punches before her neighbors arrived and the intruder fled.
Muncher immediately called the police. The man was apprehended three hours later but not before sexually assaulting another young woman who lived in the same apartment complex.
The perpetrator, an illegal immigrant from Guatemala, lived close to Muncher’s building in a house that was later destroyed in the April 27 tornadoes. He has now been deported.
However, swift justice could not ease the emotional toll that the incident had on Muncher.
She said she still gets nervous when she is home alone or while walking to her car at night.
Muncher relied on the support of family and friends, one of whom recommended that she visit the Women’s Resource Center in Tuscaloosa.
“It really helped me to talk to a complete stranger. Sometimes with friends and family, you feel like you’re annoying them with the subject because it’s all you can talk about,” she said.
The counselors at the Women’s Resource Center helped Muncher understand that she is strong enough to handle even the worst of situations and can use what she learns from them for the good of others.
Muncher chose the Women’s Resource Center as her platform when she competed in the 2012 Miss Walker County Pageant last month.
She currently volunteers there and next semester will complete a leadership program that will enable her to serve as an advocate for the Center in high schools and at outreach events.
Muncher said she is willing to tell her story as often as necessary if it will help others who become victims of assault.
“It’s hard to find the courage to go someplace and talk, but I feel like if they see that it happens to a regular young woman, then they know they can,” Muncher said.
Muncher had not had any self-defense training at the time of the break-in but has since participated in several training sessions through her sorority.
The main advice she gives to young women who find themselves in a situation similar to her own is to not be afraid to fight back.
“You have every right to defend yourself in any way, and don’t be afraid to take a stand. If I hadn’t, I feel like my scenario would have ended very differently,” Muncher said.