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I started running at the age of 31 after my first husband suddenly passed away. Working and raising my young daughter had consumed my life over recent years, but this personal tragedy made me consider my own mortality. I wanted to be there for my child.
I continued to run regularly as it brought me joy—and the health benefits can’t be denied. I discovered that when I ran, I felt relaxed. Because I am hearing impaired, it often seemed like the one thing that made me feel like everyone else.
Years later, I met and married again. My new husband had always been a drinker, but it increased after he retired. He started drinking earlier and earlier in the day. I began to do half marathons and 5Ks every weekend—when I ran, it made me forget that when he drank he became abusive. My house felt like a trap, but running made me feel free and at peace.
Last November, my husband came home extremely intoxicated. He started an argument and was angry that I couldn’t hear what he was saying (due to my disability I rely on lip-reading). I asked to go for a walk, hoping he would calm down.
Related: Running Helped Me Out Of An Abusive Relationship
He wouldn’t let me go and proceeded to beat me, causing me to drop to the floor. He then kicked my in the head and pulled out a gun, shooting me through the chest. I managed to run next door and collapsed unconscious at the neighbor’s step. I nearly died, suffering a collapsed lung, broken ribs, broken sternum and lacerated lung. I was hospitalized for two weeks, then transferred for three weeks to a shelter.
Four months later, I attempted to run a 5K for the first time since the incident. I placed third in my age group! What a feeling. I am putting the past behind me and getting stronger every day.
To other woman going through domestic violence, I say this: No matter what he says, know that you are worth having a happy life, free of abuse. Do not believe him when he says he is sorry. I forgave my husband so many times. Do not let it get to where I did. No man is worth losing your life.
The night he shot me, it was my ability to run that saved me. It will be a long time before I am able to run half marathons again. But being able to run a 5K four months after being shot is a dream to me. I am a survivor and proud of it. My running community has been my biggest support through all of this.
Running saved my life that night and I will continue to run as long as I can.