Culture

Running Helped Heal My Trauma From Sexual Abuse

One runner overcame self-esteem issues created by a troubled childhood by becoming a marathoner.

Sheree Henderson

I grew up in an abusive home. Due to that and the sexual abuse I endured, I had very low self-esteem. I have always been skinny, but not fit.

I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself after I graduated from high school and to really try to heal and overcome. I was tired of just existing; I wanted to feel alive. I remember when I was in high school it took me 12 minutes to run 1 mile in gym class . I would be so exhausted.

The track coach tried to get me on the track but after one day of try outs, I was so embarrassed I never came back.

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The summer before my first year of college, I began to wake up every morning at 4 a.m. to go to the track. I figured if I couldn’t run from my problems, I could run in spite of them.

I will never forget this moment: I was two months into my consistent running routine. I was running down the street and it hit me: I’M RUNNING 10 MILES!

Running isn’t just a sport. It’s time for meditation. It’s an outlet. It’s discipline. It’s power. It’s the strength you feel when you go from running a lap to a mile to a marathon. It is seeing your own body transform right before your eyes. When you see how you can physically turn around due to consistency and hard work, its confirmation that you too then can turn around emotionally, mentally, and spiritually as well.

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Life will always have its ups and downs, but running changed my perspective. Every time I go for a run I always end up talking to someone. I get a lot of women that want to know what I do to keep myself motivated to run or how hard it is to get to this point. I even have some that have similar backgrounds as me and share some very personal things with me in hopes to figure out how to use fitness as a outlet as well. I tell each one the same thing. It starts with a step.