By Nick Bell
WRITTEN BY ALEX FINE
When I got the news that my mom had been the victim of domestic abuse and violence, I really didn’t know how to handle it. I was angry - part of me wanted to hurt the person who did this to her and the other part of me felt paralyzed. Watching the trial drag on for three years, and seeing my mom have to relive the memories of that violence over and over again over those three years was one of the most helpless feelings I’ve felt. I didn’t want to give in to those paralyzing feelings. So, I decided to channel my anger and feelings of helplessness by running fifty miles to bring awareness and hopefully raise some money for other victims of domestic violence.
Let me first say, running is not my favorite. I love working out, I love all things fitness, but running is not something I enjoy. I can’t stand it, so I knew I had to do it. Originally, I was planning to run a full marathon. At the time I couldn’t remember the last time I ran more than a mile. So, a full marathon was insane. Then I saw this man run 50 miles and decided a double marathon was what I needed to do. I thought by doing a double marathon I would bring more awareness and hopefully more money to victims of domestic violence. Personally, I knew the fifty miles would just short of kill me, but I had to put myself in that pain to heal.
To hold myself to it, I put it out there and shared it on Instagram that in 6 months’ time I would be running fifty miles from Compton to Malibu to raise awareness for victims of domestic violence. During those 6 months I tried to train for it, tried to get myself to run longer and longer distances but I hated it, and eventually committed to winging it. I wanted my family there when I did it so decided I would do it the day after my wedding.
The day of I started out on my fifty miles at 5am in Compton, alongside the Compton Cowboys. My family was there driving in front of me in the sprinter van. The first twelve miles flew by I was amped, I felt like I was fighting my own demons, and not to mention running alongside a horse will get your adrenaline going. After mile twelve I quickly started feeling the lack of training for this run set in. I broke my ankle from a stress fracture, I was regrettably wearing Converse, and I had no food or water in my system after reading horror stories of long-distance runners losing control of their bodily functions.
After that my brother (also in Converse, untrained, and without food or water) hopped out of the sprinter van to run by my side. Mile after mile I could physically feel my body tearing down. It was one of the hottest days in the middle of the summer in LA. I was miserable. When I hit thirty miles the pain was unbearable, I began to have this internal struggle about just stopping there. But I couldn’t quit, I wasn’t going to quit. I said I was going to do it so I’m going to fucking do it.
At mile forty-five I greeted by Peter Berg and my other brother and decided to check the GoFundMe to see how much money had been raised: “$2,000.” I was gutted, it felt like I wasn’t raising any awareness or making any impact at all. So, I gave my mom my cell and my platform to go live and share her story and why I was running. It was that moment I returned to why I did this in the first place. I realized I needed to amplify my mom’s voice and her story. After that the donations started coming in. By mile forty-eight over a million people saw the video and we raised over $50,000 dollars.
When we finished through mile fifty, I was in excruciating pain, I was starving and exhausted, my ankle had swollen like a balloon, I could barely walk, but sitting there in that moment was so cathartic. I hugged my family and we all just broke down and cried. It was emotional but for all of us it felt like a moment of closure. I felt like I made peace with my anger and feelings of helplessness. At mile twelve my body had quit, but for the last thirty-eight miles my mind fought through. And if by running these fifty miles and amplifying my mom’s story we helped one woman or one child then all the pain and suffering was worth it.
As a son, husband, and father to three incredible girls I will always fight to protect them and amplify their voices. As men we need to check other men, so this doesn’t keep repeating. And as parents and leaders, we need to teach our children that domestic violence and abuse is unacceptable. I brought my daughter into this world and I want her to feel safe, loved, and encouraged to be the greatest she can be.
I pray that any woman or child that is the victim of domestic violence and needs help finds the same courage my mom had to speak up. Call a domestic violence and abuse hotline or shelter and seek out help. My mom’s story is one story but know that you are not alone. My mom’s story had been shared to over a million people, and we were able to donate over $50,000 dollars to help other victims of domestic abuse and violence.
For anyone affected by abuse and needing support, call 1-800-799-7233, or if you are unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474. For more information and resources about domestic violence and abuse please visit: https://www.thehotline.org/
You are not alone.