I was a shattered person but martial arts is helping me re-build again. I had such crippling anxiety, sometimes I couldn’t even leave the house.

The damage done as a result of the abusive relationship I was in had developed into such crippling anxiety – sometimes I would struggle to even leave the house.

Despite the support of my loving family, once the external bruises had healed I had to start dealing with the internal damage that had occurred as a result of a being in a violent and abusive relationship.

I relocated to Perth to be closer to family and much needed support networks. It has been years since I’d made a commitment to any sort of physical sport or exercise, the thought of trying to learn something new in my 30’s was completely daunting.

Then I saw the Pink Belt Scholarships advertised on Facebook and noticed that a club near me was participating. I nervously got in contact with the instructor of the club to express my interest.

She was informative and encouraging from the very start, knowing the instructor was female, alleviated some of my initial fears and provided a safe space for me to reach out. I worked with the instructor to put together an application and then crossed my fingers and waited for an outcome.

I remember exactly where I was when I received the email saying I’d been successful, the overwhelming feelings of excitement – followed directly by feelings of fear and concerns of not being good enough.

Training commenced in the New Year and I hesitantly arrived at the Town Hall for my first training session. Not realising it then, but this Town Hall would be where I began to rebuild myself – always supported by my instructor and other members of the Club.

This Town Hall would be where I wept after every court appearance, where I sweated and worked through the resentment and anger I often felt consumed by, where I slowly began to feel safe again.

Despite the impact of COVID I was able to successfully pass my first grading. The sense of satisfaction and pride from passing that first grading would carry me through some of the more difficult times I had to face in life.

Still battling depression, anxiety and some of the longer term impacts of being in a domestic violence relationship – the Town Hall and the comrades I train with every week always seem to get me through. We celebrate life together, we mourn difficult times – but most importantly we keep coming back.

I keep coming back to continue the journey of rebuilding. To be able to stand in a safe space and be vulnerable and supported. To be able to push myself and trust others to push me to be the best that I can be.

I simply cannot describe the value this scholarship has provided me with, it has truly paved the way for me to begin a new phase of my life. One where I am always trying to be the best version of myself – supported by an Instructor and Club comrades who have picked up the pieces of what was a shattered person and assisted me in rebuilding myself into someone I am learning to love and be proud of.

I encourage any women who are considering the scholarship – to please apply, despite how down you may be feeling, how much of a struggle life may currently feel. Please submit an application, because despite the fact that you may not feel like it right now – you are worth it.

*Lydia’s name has been changed to protect her identity.


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