Run4Mom: An Action to Bring Awareness, Inspiration, and Support by Samantha Kearney

On July 26th, 2014 Sarah Jamieson will run in memory of her Mom, Nora Lynne Donnelley (1951 – 2008), who died as a result of the impact of violence. RUN4MOM is Sarah’s action to bring awareness, inspiration, and support to girls and women who have experienced violence and abuse and who have had to work hard to overcome the impact of violence on one’s being: mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally, financially, and socially.

Here is Sarah’s story: The Power of a Single Story

“I was 6 years old the first time, my mother’s second husband hit me. I had left an empty popsicle wrapper on the table, and forgot to put it in the trash. The memory of this event is still fuzzy, but what I do remember was my first real and raw understanding of what fear, anxiety and no longer feeling safe feels like. What I do remember is hearing screaming behind me as I ran up the stairs blindly grabbing at the carpet, as he dragged me back down – kicking and screaming. Being thrown into the spare bedroom, it was dark, a chill in the air. He scrambled on the bed and my own screaming for my mother was deafening. She cried in the corner of the doorway, begging him to stop. Then I felt something hit the side of my head, sending me flying off the bed and into the side wall. I remember tucking myself into the fetal position, my face hot, I was sweaty, shaking, my head pounded and I could taste iron – my own blood. He left, closed the door and told me, lights off and to not come out until I was ready to be “good”.

I stayed in that room for what seemed like hours, laying on the floor, trying to understand what had just happened. Trying to understand why someone who said they loved me and my mother would cause such pain and fear. At the age of 6 – nothing, none of this made any sense and it re defined, it re shaped how you see the world and your place in it. From that moment on, I slept with a night light on, I had a backpack ready by my bedroom window, a crayoned route to my biological father’s house and I slept with that widow cracked open in case my cat and I had to escape. No child should ever have an escape route from their own home.

After that day, the abuse, the anger would continue. I would witness him hit my mother, fight with her, knock her down; physically, psychologically and spiritually. Over the years she became less and less the strong, vibrant mother I knew – and more of a woman fighting for her life. He controlled her actions, she lost friends, she rarely went out, she drank, he made her do cocaine with him. He was a sexual predator. For 9 years, I was slapped, spanked, whipped with a belt and even up to the age of 12 I remember being stripped naked and “disciplined.” At the age of 14 when we lost our home to debt, I convinced my mom to leave him. I got 2 jobs in high-school, she got a restraining order and when the divorce was finalized – the healing began. The long road of recovery begins with a single step.

Heroes – I tell this story in detail because stories, like mine, need to be told. They need to be heard and the silence needs to be broken. Abuse is what started the downward spiral of my mother’s mental illness – a two decade long battle with her demons, her manic depression – later turned- bi polar disorder, struggling with alcohol addiction.

For me – I turned to running as a way to process and understand “what the F*** had happened to me.” In all our trauma, my mother never got angry with me, she was always loving and even at a young age, I knew I was the glue that had to hold it all together. This burden turned out to be my most valued lesson. In my mother’s passing from accidental suicide; I have learned that in my own silence there can be no full healing. I choose to not only speak for myself, but to pay tribute and honor to my mother’s memory by telling her story of courage.

As an adult, I have had decades of therapy to better understand the long term effects of my childhood abuse and chronic pain has been one of them. I have suffered from back pain for nearly a decade. The reasons why some children experience long-term consequences of abuse while others emerge relatively unscathed are still not fully understood. The ability to cope, and even thrive, following a negative experience is what we call “resilience.”

Resilience comes from really owning your sh*t, really accepting the cards that we are dealt and more importantly, accepting that your future, the life you wish to lead, the legacy you wish to leave behind – can only be chosen by “YOU.” The right to choose is the most important rights we, as a human species can harness.

For years I struggled to understand why some people who survive trauma – be it combat, violence, sexual or physical abuse, neglect or isolation – exhibit tremendous resilience and lead full, loving lives; while others become defined by their trauma. For years, I stood somewhere in between. Someone who couldn’t fully accept her past, but someone who wasn’t about to be defined by it either.

Over the last two years, I have been knee deep, head down, rolling around in every leader, TED Talk and podcast I could my hands on that deals with; wholehearted living, defense against the dark arts, vulnerability, cognitive behavioral therapy, superhero movies – you name it, I am researching it.

RUN4MOM is all about putting one foot in front of the other; both metaphorically and physically. This is the second year where I am focusing the majority of my acceptance, advocacy and awareness on surviving child abuse and sharing my mother’s story of domestic and family violence. Battered Women’s Support Services has been an expert on providing women-centered, anti-oppression support and training for more than three decades. They provide several training programs for women and front line workers across BC, as well as programs, support services and crisis intervention for women and girls experiencing violence.

This is the second year where donations made go towards the critical ending violence work of Battered Women’s Support Services and work of Canadian Mental Health Association.

RUN4MOM: A Call to Action!

Join in a movement to honor the exceptional women in our lives who face violence and abuse and work hard to overcome the significant effects both have on one’s mental wellness and coping behaviours such as addiction.

WHY JOIN?

Because you have the power to change the world! Together, we aim to build an inclusive society where people can learn, live, work, share, and be active all to end violence against girls and women.

RUN4MOM is a great way to enhance our health and well-being and a way to raise funds for the critical services and programs of BWSS.

WHEN IS THE EVENT?

A FREE virtual event on Saturday July 26th, 2014, powered by FitCause & RUN4ACAUSE. You can choose to walk, run, step or even dance anywhere, anytime, any distance.

Your steps and fitness activity will contribute to the resiliency of women everywhere. This charity challenge coincides with the #RUN4MOM Vancouver, in support of Battered Women’s Support Services and the Youth STEPS program of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

WHAT AM I SUPPORTING?

This is your chance to join the global community of women and men, boys and girls who strive to end violence and to break the stigma around mental health.

HOW CAN I DONATE?

Yes, click here to make a tax deductible donation that’s filled with change making do’gooding!

HOW CAN I JOIN?

Virtual Event: July 26, 2014

Step 1: Sign up HERE

Step 2: Choose your wearable fitness device. If you don’t have one it’s FREE to download on your iphone, smart phone or blackberry and FitCause will sync it up with your accounts.

Step 3: On July 26th, choose your activity. Walk along your favorite seawall, walk or bike to work, take the stairs, take a dance class. Just #move4good.

Step 4: After your activity on July 26, just sync up your device and let FitCause do the rest. Feel free to share your experience with us.

There is no better way to build community, share your story, contribute to your community AND stay healthy.

Pre- Race Party: Shop & Pep Rally – July 24, 2014

Where: My Sister’s Closet

Location: 1092 Seymour Street, Downtown Vancouver

Time: 6pm-8pm

Refreshments, nibbles, door prizes, shopping!

Please RSVP with Samantha at 778-996-5451/[email protected]

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