I lived the first 24 years of my life as a victim of violence. I grew up in a violent home with a misogynist, racist, religious freak for a father until I was 17. As a homeless minor, I was promptly targeted by a thirty-two-year-old predator. This kid was lured with, not candy, but a room for rent. He got me into his house with a lie and violated me, keeping me trapped all night. Once released, the man stalked and forced into a relationship with him. Seven years later, with my abuser (then husband) in prison for his second conviction related to violence against me, I got free.
Well, kinda free. I’ve had a long eight years of PTSD and healing.
Last year, my therapist said I am the clinical definition of thriving, that I have not only done the hard, hard work of recovering from my traumatic experiences, but I have progressed my mental health beyond the point it had been when I first encountered my ex-husband. That’s a big endorsement, and I couldn’t believe it at first. I still have PTSD. I still have symptoms, but even though I even had some symptoms the day I drafted this, I know now that I’ll be OK.
My relationship with myself has changed. My relationship with others has changed. And now, with the better part of a decade away from my abuser, another relationship has changed: my relationship with violence.
After being assaulted by a bouncer last summer, I resolved to learn to defend myself. I had no idea of what that meant, but I was tired of not knowing what to do when things got physical. I was tired of leaving my safety up to chance. I made a series of largely uninformed decisions and stumbled into a new therapy, jiu-jitsu. Don’t worry if you don’t know what I’m talking about. I had no idea what it was either, but it has changed my life.
Click "Read More" below to read the story of how I fell in love with a martial art called jiu-jitsu.
Rebecca encourages survivors of domestic to speak about their experiences and to lean on each other for support.