I just couldn't keep hanging on, and neither should you. I found myself in a pretty unhealthy relationship last year. I was constantly being told my body wasn't right and forcefully pushed away when I tried to remedy a fight with a hug. There is more...but that's not the point. My intention with the video I've made called Run from Domestic Abuse: A Lifesaving Message for Women, which I hope you'll watch, is to spread a message of support amongst women. Why? Because we have the power to physically and emotionally uplift women from a dark place to one of hope and forward movement. It's just that simple.
I get it. Some relationships are hard to leave. But you should never stay in one that doesn't bring out the very best in you or that leaves you feeling smacked down. Abuse comes in many forms and women have experienced it in many ways, whether verbally, psychologically, or worse, on impact. They all hurt and tear us apart. I feel for the women going through it right now but I can accept that it's a slow transition towards finding a way out.
But you have to find your way out no matter how serious your situation. Statistics show that only 25% of domestic abuse incidents are reported each year. This is tragic! Domestic abuse, also called intimate partner violence (IPV), is very often linked to the following risk factors: substance abuse, traumatic brain injuries, PTSD, and "social information processing deficits" (i.e., misinterpreting social cues). These are things to watch out for. If you're already being subjected to aggression from your partner or know someone who is, please consider taking the appropriate measures to report it!
There are centers and hotlines out there. Many people have asked me why I don't include a resource for one in the video. In my opinion, the most powerful first step to leaving an abusive relationship is getting help from other women. And, I want strong women to open their eyes to women who are suffering and lend a hand and a heart. If it weren't for the incredibly supportive women in my life who encouraged me to keep moving past the pain and fear, I wouldn't know I could be as strong as I find myself now.
About the women in my video... They're all so special. You must know them. So here goes! Julie Kathryn is my sorority sister and an amazing singer-songwriter. She is the voice and the music behind the video. When I asked her to cover Ellie Goulding's song Hanging On, she didn't even hesitate and created such a beautiful and unique interpretation of it. I love her. Please find her music here. Rachel Nicks didn't flinch either. As a manager/instructor of one of my favorite wellness spa's Exhale, she told me from day 1, "Girl, you and I get each other." We had an unspoken bond. If you live in NYC or visit, take her class at Exhale!
Kelly Dooley-Kalley: I don't even know where to begin. She's a true inspiration as a business woman and confidant. She is the owner/designer of one of my favorite fitness collections called BodyRock Sport. Everyone is wearing her clothes in the video and you won't find a harder working or more passionate sporstwear designer. Amber Shirley had me at hello. We met in bootcamp and she lent me a hand by building me up when I was down. She is the founder of Soul Sisters Sundays, a networking/empowerment meet up. More info on that here. Mahri Relin owns BodyConceptions and she's damn good at transforming both body & spirit. Her workout reminds you to dance through life...because you can. I do it every Friday at 9.30am.
Caitlin Mitchell is a ridiculously talented photographer. She does a lot of nudes because people aren't afraid to show her who they really are. She's bent backwards for me and shared stories, and she's all about moving forward. Take a look at her work! I met Katie Latham in a fitness class and soon after we bonded over Greek food about following our dreams. We help each other achieve them too! Sarah Petroski trains hearts and bodies. Her aura is sweet and selfless. Her laughter cures sadness. Work out with her! Melissa Farley is a mind-body life coach and will tell ya how to eat right. She will enlighten you with your first sip of cucumber water. Check her out.
I hope this video moves you to grab a hand or extend one for another woman. If you have resources to share such as centers, support groups or hotlines, please add them in the comments section below (with any thoughts you have, too). Thank you for your support and for helping me spread this empowering message!