I’m a Survivor that keeps on surviving

Julie Ann Richards
3 min readJul 15, 2021

When you are a survivor of domestic, sexual and/or physical male violence and abuse, we are often credited (as it should be) as a warrior woman, a superwoman, a survivor with exceptional emotional resilience.

It is true, my Survivor tribe, the women that Destiny’s Child sing about never give up, and keep on surviving for themselves and their children. We navigate the systemic secondary domestic abuse meted out by Family Courts, Cafcass, social services and other agencies; and we always hold a hand out and step up for other women who are suffering the same issues.

We do what we have to do to survive.

I know I am emotionally resilient, the past 15 years of emotional and psychological abuse has sharpened my intuition to a blade of truth and power. Yet…when my anxiety, self-doubt and fear has blunted that blade, it is not my emotional resilience that has suffered so much as my physical resilience.

It is well known that suffering domestic and sexual abuse can lead to chronic diseases following the stress on our bodies. I suffer from ulcerative colitis and although it does not impede my life like some sufferers, there are days that the fatigue or stomach pain is as crushing to my confidence as it is to my body.

The past decade my yoga practise slipped away, I walked less, my physical appearance changed with ageing and a more sedantry lifestyle. As the pounds piled on so did the physical aches and pains. Sleep became sporadic, my legs constantly ached, my stamina withered.

My physical resilience was a poor match for my emotional resilience.

Then a gym opened in our town Energie Fitness Pontypridd and I quickly became a regular at the Spin classes, loving the adrenaline rush and the physciality of the workout.

Energie Fitness Pontypridd — photograph of hand held weight in the gym

Then my town was flooded followed by COVID.

I didn’t became as phsycially inactive as previous years, I practised yoga daily for 45 minutes, but I needed something else to raise my cardio level and increase my strength.

Returning to the gym following the previous lockdown, I signed up for a personal training session with the amazing Shauna Gibbon. My aim - to increase my strength, support and increase bone density and do things out of my comfort zone.

Since April I have trained weekly with Shauna and added two additional gym sessions alongside my Spin classes. A fortnight ago I went paddle boarding out at sea for the first time and on Tuesday, I held a plank for 60 seconds with a 1.5kg on my back… I have doubted my physical self too long, but now I see and feel the progress, no matter how little every day… and it is a good feeling.

Physcial exercise has resulted in me feeling strong in a new way, I savour new challenges and I have come to realise physical resilience is also about emotional resilience.

You have to be focused, committed and adept at dealing with the highs and lows when exercising, understanding your body and knowing that the sweat of surviving another workout is another small but significant victory as a survivior of domestic abuse.

As Destiny Child sings ‘I will survive being fine … I will survive…’ and hopefully become bootylicious!!

Band members of Destiny’s Child hold hands in warrior style

Energié Fitness Pontypridd

Shauna Gibbon Fitness

Destiny”s Child - I’m A Survivor



Julie Ann Richards

Radical Feminist, Mam, Cymraes, heart always rules head, Trustee — Fair Treatment of Women in Wales, domestic abuse survivor — views are my own