Recent Stories
Finding Strength After Domestic Abuse

This article was written by a civilian staff member at Headquarters Marine Corps.   

Experiencing domestic abuse can have lifelong implications. Individuals impacted by abuse may feel weak or shame, and often feel alone.  

However, the fact that you survived or perhaps are currently surviving in an abusive relationship shows that you have more strength than you might feel.  

While the path to healing is different for everyone, we do know that fitness helps with reclaiming yourself. Not only does exercise strengthen the body, but it also strengthens the mind and spirit, and it empowers you to gain ownership over your life again.   

This piece is written not just from an educational standpoint but also a personal standpoint from a military spouse who has survived domestic abuse.  

My hope is that you gain hope and motivation and a greater understanding that through physical strength you gain mental strength. The stronger you become, the stronger your confidence will grow, and you will soon see yourself as the person you are, the person inside that you may have been.  

Over time, you see yourself less as a victim and more as a survivor, someone who can endure and overcome anything.  

I walked into the gym as a way to escape my house when my husband would come home, it was a way to escape the embarrassment and to contemplate the conflict of love and hate for my spouse. Those emotions can occur at the same time and are so hard to articulate.  

What I found when I went to the fitness center was so much more than what we usually expect to find at a gym. I found a community of people who believed in me, encouraged me, and listened to me, helping me to find myself again.   

I learned that what I was experiencing at home was not normal, and as I got stronger, I lifted more, I did more, and I believed that I could have a normal life again. My belief in what I could achieve was greater than the confidence I gained in the military and the world was not so dark.  

In yoga classes we practiced mindfulness and through movement I was able to regulate hormones, better regulate my nervous system to reduce anxiety, depression, and finally to know through running I could keep running and get away. I got away and I credit my success by being able to walk through the doors of a space that I used to escape my spouse and it became the place that gave me life.  

If you are experiencing or living with a partner who threatens you, physically harms you, and is controlling your interactions and ability to be autonomous, please know that you are not alone. Resources are available and all around you. There are survivors who also thought they could not get away and they did and are here for you.   

Fitness is only a part of the recovery process, but it is one of the most impactful tools available, and I encourage anyone who has previously or is currently experiencing domestic abuse to find your strength.   

There are many resources available to you, such as Family Advocacy Program Advocate Services, restricted and unrestricted reporting options, transitional compensation for abused dependents (TCAD), support, and safety planning. For more information, visit our Domestic Abuse Prevention site or find your local Advocate today. 



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