Every nine seconds a woman in the US is beaten. One in four women and one in seven men are victims of domestic violence. The problem is rampant largely due to social stigmas, lack of education with law enforcement and public officials, and consequently a lack of adequate punishment for the crimes. In 2017, I became part of this statistic. My ex-husband physically assaulted me three times during our one- year marriage.
At the time of the final assault, I was five months pregnant with our son. My ex threw me to the floor during an argument, leaving bruises across my chest from the impact and on my arms from falling. Fortunately, our baby was okay. But I knew I had to get out. I knew I had to protect my children as well as myself. This man stood over me as I lied on the floor crying and didn’t bat an eye. In fact, he told me to leave. I will never forget the look on his face at that moment—there was no remorse.
Over the past two years since that last assault, life has been stressful. The abuser made good on his threats to fight for custody of our son if I left. He made sure I was left with nothing. It has been a constant battle. But through it all, even when I was pregnant, I continued to powerlift. Having time in the gym has kept me sane. On days when the stress gets to be too much, or I’m dealing with anxiety and PTSD, a heavy deadlift session clears my head. I have decided to turn the pain into power. It fuels my lifts. I know that if I was strong enough to leave violence despite the threats, I am strong enough to lift whatever weight is on the bar.
Since leaving the abuse, my total has increased and my attitude toward the sport has changed as well. I used to see powerlifting as just a hobby, and I didn’t take it as seriously. Now, I see how it has changed my life. I see the confidence it has given me to tackle abuse and to speak out. My lifts have all increased and I achieved an elite total this year. I’m continuing to put in the work and setting high goals, no matter the stresses I face in the courtroom with still having to see the abuser.
Powerlifting is such a great tool to build strength—not just physical, but mental and emotional. We approach these heavyweights with confidence. We grip that bar until our hands rip open. We don’t let go. We are fighters. We are survivors. We are powerlifters.
I tell my story because I know I am not alone. That many out there reading this can relate. And I want you to know that you deserve to be safe. I have been very grateful to the powerlifting community and the support it has offered me during these tough times. This sport is filled with amazing, caring people who want to take a stand against domestic violence. If you are in an abusive relationship, I encourage you to reach out for help. You can contact the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 to find shelters and contacts near you.
Partnership Against Domestic Violence https://padv.org/
The National Domestic Violence Hotline https://www.thehotline.org/