How Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors Saved Me from Domestic Abuse
By Dr. Nina C. Franklin on October 07, 2012
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One of my neighbors heard the commotion and had already called the police. When the police arrived, they looked at my mouth and immediately arrested him and encouraged me to file an order of protection. My neighbor gave me a mirror so that I could see my face—I looked like Denzel Washington in the final scenes of Mo' Better Blues. She cleaned my mouth and handed me a peace pipe. We talked for hours as she shared a similar experience. I left inspired to file that order of protection but I told my family first. My father came with me to file.
I remained still for weeks because oddly enough, I missed him. My domestic violence counselor told me that this was a natural response to abuse. Before corresponding with this counselor, I was not aware that there were so many “non-physical” types of domestic abuse (i.e. mental, verbal, religious, etc.). During my sessions with her, the counselor shared various coping strategies with me (i.e. meetings, drawing, journaling, etc.). They didn’t work.
I still needed a way to cope, so I started running excessively, sometimes 70 or 80 miles a week. It was also during this time that I became a vegan and underwent frequent juice fasts in an effort to clear my mind, body, spirit, and skin. I chopped off over a foot of hair because I felt a need to be completely free. Everyone who knew me thought that I was losing my mind. Due to my dramatic weight loss and fully faded hair it even became rumored that I was in chemotherapy. In addition to my exercise and clean diet, I started meditating heavily and the running mileage continued to pick up.
Close to seven or eight months after his arrest, he actually contacted me again and I spoke with him, “officially” calling it quits. He threatened to kill me over and over again, but by this time I was well focused on my graduate studies and feeling empowered thanks to my exercise, dietary, and meditation practices. I had totally snapped out of feeling like a victim. During our final correspondence, I reminded him that my family, including a host of male cousins, still resided in the Englewood community. That was pretty much the end of our correspondence. I saw him again in passing, and I believe that it was because he still followed me on occasion. However, there were no more problems.
I shared this story to inspire and empower people who have been, in any way, affected by domestic violence. Domestic violence is real and often it goes unnoticed and sometimes tragically ends in death. If you or someone you know has been or is currently a victim of domestic violence, it is important to understand that healing starts within. Sometimes it's not even the violence that does the most harm—the damaging of the spirit and associated stress can kill.
During my experience with domestic abuse, implementing meditative strategies with a clean diet allowed me to see things clearly and I began to remove myself from the situation. When I felt like crying or eating away the pain, I ran (albeit a bit excessively) in an effort to cope. Eventually, these lifestyle behaviors empowered me and I became a much stronger person as a result. I remain convinced that the fight against domestic violence begins with inspiring and empowering the "victim" to leave the situation--it all starts there.
Credit: Elvert Barnes (Flickr)
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or visit their website.
For more of the latest and greatest in health, fitness, and nutrition, "Like" me on Facebook at Nina Cherie, PhD of Complete Health Solutions
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