You are a warrior. You are strong, smart, unafraid, and full of life and wisdom, ready to clear the path for a better future.
However, in the aftermath of abuse, that once great warrior can feel defeated, weak, and small.
Pain, abandonment, fear, loneliness, tiredness, haziness, sickness, humiliation, depression, confusion, loss of self, and brokenness are just a few of the emotions that might result from being attacked or controlled by another individual.
I am a survivor of domestic abuse.
After five years in that relationship and 12 years of healing, rebuilding, and restoring my own inner warrior, those dark emotions have been replaced by light. I am empowered, uplifted, strong, healthy, driven, focused, peaceful, confident, whole, and happy.
To the many women who have broken free from domestic abuse but who are still caught in the cycle of defeat: I hope to inspire and help you in your journey by sharing how I found my own inner warrior, let go of the past, reclaimed my present, and moved forward to create a positive and successful life.
Domestic Abuse: The Statistics
Domestic abuse has a far-reaching impact in the United States. For example:
Statistics suggest that 20 people are victims of domestic violence, rape, or stalking by an intimate partner each minute—that’s more than 10 million women and men in the U.S. alone.
- Domestic violence hotlines receive 20,000 phone calls daily.
- According the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, women between the ages of 18-24 are the most at risk for abuse by an intimate partner; 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men have been raped; 72 percent of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner; and 94 percent of murder-suicides are female.
- Women who experience domestic abuse are at a higher risk for PTSD, increased risk for sexually transmitted diseases due to forced intercourse, suppressed immune systems, suicidal tendencies and depression, severe physical injury, pregnancy, gastrointestinal disturbances, and addiction to alcohol as well as other harmful substances.
- Victims of domestic violence collectively lose up to 8.0 million days of paid work each year—the estimated related costs total $8.3 billion annually.
When we go through trauma, our hormones get out of whack. The delicate balance usually found in our endocrine system is disrupted as our brains and bodies process what we’ve experienced.
As a result, we may see severe weight gain or loss, hair loss, changes in menstrual cycles, skin changes, changes to nail texture and strength, fatigue, anemia, severe mood swings, sleep disruption, dehydration, decreased hunger, and depression.
Stress impacts the body’s natural waste elimination system, which increases the risk of infections and lowers our ability to process the food we eat.
Trauma also limits our ability to care for ourselves. If we don’t eat well, or at all, we miss the macronutrients and micronutrients that our cells need to repair tissues, prevent chronic inflammation, and ward off disease.
When our brains don’t get the nutrients they need to process information, everything becomes more difficult to manage. This includes emotional responses, cognitive functions, and rational decision-making.
How To Start Healing from Domestic Abuse
Recovering from abuse is a highly individual process, but there are strategies we can all use to care for our bodies and minds on the path to healing.
As a professional nutritionist, I have seen the power that nourishing food has to rebuild what has been hurt. I have nurtured others’ physical health for optimal performance and overall well-being.
I have also experienced firsthand how vital nutrition is to our bodies, minds, and souls—self-care is a key piece to recovery from trauma.
1) Nourish and Reset Your Body
- Eat Protein. Our bodies do not store protein, so we have to consume it regularly to meet our cells’ needs. Protein makes up our hair, skin cells, bones, cartilage, and blood and repairs our large muscles and tissues. Lean, high-quality protein sources like chicken, salmon, almonds, oatmeal, and egg whites feed both your body and your brain for optimal recovery and wellness.
- Focus on Superfoods. Kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli provide essential vitamins to keep your endocrine system working properly. Coconut, strawberries, apples, and blackberries are packed with vitamins and offer a natural and sweet pick-me-up. Almonds are the perfect on-the-go snack—they are full of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, vitamin E, and essential unsaturated fat and fiber to help get your intestinal system back on track.
- Stay Hydrated. Drink at least 32 ounces of water per day—64 ounces if you can—and use Himalayan or ionic salts to infuse your body with the trace minerals that have been depleted. Add mint, coconut water, cucumber, or raspberries for flavor.
2) Clear Your Mind
- Sleep. A body in recovery requires rest. Sleep deprivation can result in weight gain, slowed physical response time, and delayed mental processing, and some studies suggest a connection between lack of sleep and Alzheimer’s. Aim for a regular sleep schedule that allows you 7-8 hours for optimal healing.
- Practice Positive Self-Talk. Use self-love and kind words to reclaim your life and make everyday better than the last. Try this exercise: Write “I Am…” on a sticky note followed by a word that empowers you, like strong, ambitious, brave, driven, or committed. Post notes on your bathroom mirror, your phone, your car dashboard, or your refrigerator. Repeat the phrases out loud throughout the day. The truth you tell yourself becomes your reality—over time, this will have a real impact on your wellbeing!
3) Get Grounded
- Set aside five to 10 minutes a day to connect to your body. Deep breathing techniques used in yoga and meditation send signals to your brain that your body is taking a timeout to regroup—your heart rate then slows and your body settles itself.
- Couple this with the slow, intentional movement of yoga to reconnect with the power of your body.I designedmy CHIYOGAFLOW routine, which brought renewed joy and gratitude for my body as well as excitement for the things that I could accomplish with it—like the warrior that I am.
To all the warriors out there: tap into the love all around you to renew your energy. Remind yourself why you are fighting, and support yourself when you feel weak.
Please pay attention to what you need to heal. Fill yourself up with nourishing foods and uplifting thoughts. Strengthen your powerful body and mind with yoga and meditation.
You have made the empowered choice to heal, to take control of your own life, and to make your voice louder than anyone else’s. Conquer one day, one moment at a time. You can also be a stand for others who need support to rebuild.
You are a warrior. You will survive, you will succeed – and you will win!
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse or needs similar help, please contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7 free phone support 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).