‘Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it.’ – Goethe.
I am feeling very positive and calm about Run Europe, I’ve put as much time and effort into meditation and breathing as I have running and feel much better for it. My training is now onto building endurance with long slow distance back to backs runs. There couldn’t be a better time to be out and about, Yorkshire positively glowed in the sun today. To run a marathon a day for six weeks, from Germany to Latvia I need to be strong and avoid injury. I’m persisting with nose breathing and low heart rate training – very slow running interspersed with walking as I retrain my heart to beat at 50% of my max heart rate. I know my endurance will improve and speed will come eventually!
So with the route decided and training progressing, I’m finally going to be honest with you about a dirty little secret. From the moment I decided to Run the World I knew I wanted to use it as a platform to speak out about domestic violence – the physical, emotional, sexual and mental abuse that 33% of women worldwide suffer at the hands of their intimate partner. Yes that is 1 in 3 – as of the World Health Organisation published report last year. Its a shocking statistic but means that friends, colleagues and family need help. The victims and survivors don’t always look like victims, you get very good at covering it up and they look just like you and me.
As I sat in the garden today after my run, I felt healthy and lucky. Lucky to have such a comfortable home and large, loving family, lucky to feel so happy. It wasn’t always like that. I was in a physically violent and mentally abusive relationship as a pregnant eighteen year old and for many years, even after I left. One of the reasons I stayed was because of fear of shame, of what my friends, colleagues and family would think of me. I was embarrassed, this sort of thing happened to people in the papers, not people like me. I didn’t tell anyone for a long time and the situation deteriorated so badly, the police and courts had to get involved. That brought more shame and pain for all involved.
When someone is abused by their partner in their home, they have no refuge, they have no peace, there is nowhere to escape. They often have no one to confide in and believe it must be their fault and will reflect on them. It takes courage and support to escape and it can take a lifetime for survivors and their families to recover. It’s taken me almost thirty years to feel free and confident enough to be able to say I was a victim of domestic violence, it was not my fault and I have no shame, it does not reflect badly on me. I’ve thought long and hard about this post and I’ve discussed it with those that matter. I’m Running for Women’s Aid and sharing my story publicly to free myself from the dirty secret. I hope other victims and survivors will realise they have nothing to be ashamed of, that there is a way out, it may not seem like it, but there is. You have to take the first step and ask for help.
Women’s Aid is working towards a world where violence against women is not tolerated. They provide practical support to the victims and survivors, but also together with community based support, education and as importantly political campaigning to make lasting change.
Thanks for your support so far, I will share more information about how you can help and when I am setting off soon,