“I had a very disconnected relationship with my Dad. It was different to my sisters. He would look at me different. I was the one always getting into trouble – half the time not even knowing what for. I got flogged the most”. – Domestic violence survivor Darcia.
Champion athlete Darcia helps women in crisis embrace fitness so they can heal their bodies and minds ♥️
When domestic violence is a normal way of life…
I was born in Kalgoorlie, WA. My family moved to Dubbo, NSW when I was one-year-old. I have three amazing sisters – two older, one younger – and a beautiful niece and nephew. My nationality is a combination of a few different cultures. My mum is Scottish.
She is the most amazing mother anyone could have and she did everything she could to give us the best life that she could. My mum is my number one inspiration. My father is Aboriginal and Czech.
I have a lot of love and respect for my Dad but he struggled a lot with his past but always provided my family with the essentials we needed. We weren’t brought up around a strong cultured household – we lived a ‘fairly’ normal life. Well, what I thought was normal at the time. I grew up in a household of domestic violence.
I watched my dad try to choke the life from my mum…
Growing up as child for me was very challenging. Challenging physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. From a very young age I witnessed my mother being abused by my father, and myself. Physical, verbal and emotional abuse were the main traumas we suffered. The worst thing that I experienced – and it is something that will stick with me forever – is when I nearly lost my mum.
My father nearly strangled my mum to death in front of myself and my sisters. My sisters and I jumped in and removed my father’s hands from my mum. It’s a vision that is hard to forget. I’m not sure how old I was when I started to consciously be aware of what was happening but as I grew older and started connecting the dots together I soon realised that this is not the way of living.
For many years I thought being violent was how you showed you loved someone. It’s how you showed you cared, or if you were upset with something or someone then you addressed the issue in a negative abusive way whether it be verbal or physical abuse.
My father flogged me more than my siblings…
I was the quiet child amongst my sisters. I was the one they called “the black sheep” of the family. I had the fairer skin tone, blonde hair, bright blue eyes and the older wrinkly rough hands. I was the only one who was the most into sports and I didn’t really talk much. I was the one who would “speak when spoken to.” I had a very disconnected relationship with my Dad.
I always felt it was different to my sisters. He would look at me different, I felt he treated me different. I was the one always getting into trouble, half the time not even knowing what for. I got flogged the most. I’d be the one having to sit directly across the dinner table to him. My heart use to pound whenever I was near him, he seemed like the scariest person to me. I couldn’t even look up at him at the dinner table without him saying “what you looking at you cock-eyed cunt.” He made me feel terrified of him.
My father said jump and we asked how high?…
I was brought up in a fairly strict household. Home from school 4:30pm, homework straight away, dinner, shower and then bed at 7.30pm every night. No phone calls from friends, no playing outside on the streets and there was no way in the world we could get phone calls from boys at school. Speak when spoken to. Don’t look left, don’t look right.
I remember some nights I pushed the boundaries when Dad wasn’t home at 7.30pm. I would stay up a little longer but as soon as I heard his car come up the driveway I would bolt to my room but he’d know because he would always see me run when the lights would shine into the house, I would shit myself when he walked inside then I’d get in trouble because I was caught out.
I only thought that we were hard done by as all my friends were allowed to do things after school, have friends over, and stay up late. There was just a lot of discipline I guess. I always felt like it was army camp or something, I always looked at my Dad as the drill sergeant whatever he said goes. He said jump we said how high? It’s only now that I understand why we were so disciplined and I have carried those traits into my everyday life now. It has helped me to achieve what I’ve wanted to.
My father’s own trauma drove him to traumatise us…
I was very confused as a child. I was always scared to talk about this to my sisters or friends at school or school teachers, let alone even go to the police. I always kept quiet, I hid my emotions inside me and never said a word. I sat back and watched everything that went on and tried to figure everything out for myself.
We were always told to keep our mouths shut though so there was the fear of if I said something how would my Dad respond. “Loose lips sink ships” is what we were always told. I came to realise at a young age that what I saw was not normal for any one. Love does not mean violence or arguments.
I knew that my father grew up in an abusive household himself as a child and suffered from a lot of self-worth and trauma so I started to understand that he was struggling to deal with his past and that affected the people around him. He would tell us stories of what happened to him and they were a lot worse to what I experienced. I don’t know if he was telling me to make me feel sorry for him or it was his way of trying to deal with it but as soon as I was told what he went through it was a light bulb moment as to why he was treating my family the way he is.
Running set me free from my chaotic violent world…
I was very angry as a child I always felt stressed and depressed. The way I dealt with feeling like this was through exercise. As soon as I did any exercise I instantly felt better, I felt free, I felt happy, I felt like I was in control of my own life. I loved athletics. I was a natural runner. Growing up Cathy Freeman was my idol. I wanted to go to the Olympics and run the 400m sprint. I ran and ran and ran. It made me feel so good about myself. It gave me a sense of worth. I wanted to impress my Dad. I wanted his approval to say I’m good enough. It was the only positive attention I got from him.
I always wanted my Dad to come to my athletics carnival at school, I just wanted him to see me run, I wanted him to see that I was good at what I chose to do. I always placed in my races and I knew he’d be proud if he saw me. There were times where he was at my races at little athletics and it meant so much to me that he was there.
He always spoke to me as if I were already the winner, he had a competitive, aggressive, and mind of a champion mindset that has stuck with me today. I competed on a national and state level. My goal was to go to the Olympics and be the next Cathy Freeman. My fastest 400m sprint time was 52 seconds only 4 seconds from Cathy Freeman’s best.
Leaving my home meant I was leaving behind my past…
That Olympic goal of mine soon seemed so far away – my parents couldn’t afford to send me away all the time. Dubbo was also a harder place to get recognised or ‘talent picked’ so I stopped athletics and not long after my parents split up. It was the best thing that could’ve happened for my family but I was still confused and upset of the fact that I wasn’t going to have a father around despite what I had been through. After my Dad left my attitude changed completely.
I rebelled a lot. Misbehaved so much, wagged school, ran away, punch ups with my sisters, arguments with my mum. I had the biggest attitude. My favourite line was “you can’t tell me, I’ll do what I want”. So I had quite a few years of what I guess you can call was “going off the rails.” My inner drive, motivation and having the opportunity pushed me to study personal training.
I knew that I wanted to help others through health and fitness as I know it helped me. I studied personal training whilst I was in year 11 at School and as soon as I was qualified and got the opportunity I moved away from Dubbo. At this stage I just turned 17. I packed my car with all my belongings and drove to Port Macquarie.
I just wanted to be free, I wanted to start my life fresh. I also made a conscious decision to change my life. I feared that if I stayed in Dubbo my life will only repeat my child hood. Dubbo itself is not the highest opportunity town for successful careers especially in the fitness industry.
I transformed my body into something my father feared…
I started to go through all this growth when I first left home. I had to grow up fast, I was living away from home, I was out in the working world having to make a living to survive, I had all this anger and emotions built up inside me but I had an inner drive to change my life and would do anything to break the cycle I grew up in.
Amongst all the personal growth I was going through the number one thing that always kept me sane was my training. I looked deeper into myself and asked myself why do I really train? What does it really mean to me? When I was a child all I did was run, it was a relief of stress and made me feel good. It helped that I was naturally talented and did really well but I just loved running and competing.
As I got older my training went more towards body building training. I wanted to sculpt my body to look as strong as I could because to me it meant that my father would see that I am strong. I wanted him to know that I can stand up for myself now, I am out of his power and control and living the life I want to live.
So I realised that the underlying motivation was to feel strong and fit to prove to my Dad that I am the strong one in my family and I do have what it takes. Now with all that aside my other motive was to inspire women to embrace their bodies and having muscle doesn’t mean that it’s not attractive. To have muscle as a woman means strength, power, determination and discipline. There was an obvious fact to me why I did train and that was purely because I love it. I love feeling fit and strong, I love living a healthy lifestyle.
I am ready to take on the world…
When I started to dial in my full focus to training I came across this way of training called CrossFit. I was hooked straight away. I noticed there were competitions for CrossFit so I decided I wanted to start competing. I dialled in my training and got more specific to the sport.
I also knew that if I wanted to get better at this sport then I would eventually have to end up moving on from Port Macquarie and be around somewhere that will allow me to take this further. I then moved to Brisbane in 2012 to pursue my career in fitness and to become a better CrossFit athlete.
It was also time to move on from Port Macquarie, it was just a stepping stone to where I wanted to be. CrossFit has three different levels of competition – The CrossFit Open, The Australian CrossFit Regionals and The World CrossFit Games. The latter is the ultimate in CrossFit. I have competed at the CrossFit regionals on four occasions, twice as an individual athlete in 2011 and 2014 and twice as a team competitor 2013 and 2016. I am very fortunate enough to say I am competing at the CrossFit Games this year, July 2016, as a team competitor. This is an absolute dream come true.
Learning to love myself means I can love someone else…
Love, what is love? Love to me is about being emotionally connected to yourself, it means to be 100% happy in who you are as a person and with that you can eventually share that with someone else. With another being who shares the same beliefs as you. Who also loves themselves for who they are and then two people can share an enteral life together of happiness.
Relationships for me were always a touchy and sensitive subject. My view on relationships was made up when I was quite young. I instantly thought all men are fuckwitts, they’re all violent and abusive, they will always cheat on you, they’re fucked. My barrier was always “I don’t need a man, I’m miss independent. So you could only imagine what my relationships were like with guys with that strong belief in me.
Every relationship I have had has always been a learning curve, they’ve all happened for a reason and I’ve taken everything I’ve learnt on board. At a young age I knew that one day I want a loving and supportive family that I will create myself and I will marry the love of my life and give my kids the opportunities I never had. I knew that, but struggled with a lot of insecurities and 100% belief on that statement that I made.
What it come down to was that I didn’t love myself. So every relationship I experienced was based off emotions that I tried to fulfil from the exterior but was missing parts from inside me. My own stubbornness was to always hold my guard up. I only allowed guys so far into my life and that was so I could protect myself from being hurt.
I refused to fall in love with men like my father…
I was very instinctual to picking up certain vibes from guys too, I could always tell if they were similar to my father or they were ‘decent’. Because I knew deep down in my soul that one day I will attract true love and I will have my own family I never attracted the same person as my father into my life.
It’s very easy to fall down the same path and attract exactly what you’re use to, for example someone who drinks all the time, abusive, aggressive. I must admit I have never ever been abused or mistreated in a negative way by a lover and I strongly believe that that’s because: 1. I will never put up with any kind of abuse from any male whether they’re my partner or not, I will not be spoken to in a manner that is not respectable to a female. 2. I knew that I deserve better than what I experienced as a child. 3. I always visioned myself with a happy and successful family. There are just a few examples of how I perceived my life in relationships.
It wasn’t until I moved to Port Macquarie and found people who were happily married with kids that I started to see that you can be happily married. It opened my eyes to so much more. I would say that relationships have been my number weakness that I’ve had to work really hard for over my years from moving out of home. I always had self-belief in myself that I could achieve anything, I had self-confidence in myself to take action to push my life in a positive direction.
What I realised I was missing was the belief, confidence and self-worth that kids get from their father or parents. I knew my parents loved me and they did everything they could to give us the best life possible. We were brought up in tough love so as a teenager there were a few things missing that sparked my emotional bucket.
A few good men have shown me that there are great guys in the world…
All the relationships I’ve been in I knew deep down that none of those relationships were “the one” as they say. I have always believed everything happens for a reason, so that’s how I viewed my relationships, and at some point we will both move on, it will serve its purpose for the time being, if it’s meant to be it will be if not don’t force it.
I’ve been lucky enough to have great strong male role models who have shown me that there are great guys out there, I’ve had strangers who now I call family take me in and love me as if I was their own child. They’ve shown me how to be a better loving and caring person.
They’ve taught me the number one success in the world- and that is the belief of having a successful family. As I’ve grown and worked through my insecurities and have the awareness of what it was all driven by I am able to consciously let go of my insecurities and past and take what I’ve learnt to become a better person. I have a very strong belief system in what I view as a successful family and the values and morals I hold are so strong to my heart that no male will come into my life and not give me what I want.
There will be ups and downs but love should be easy from the start…
All these experiences and learnings about love and relationships has led me into the happiest relationship I have ever been in. I can say for the first time ever that I am truly in love. I knew the time would come but I never expected it to arrive in my life now. In past relationships the thought of getting married and having kids freaked me out, I hated speaking about it. It made me feel so uncomfortable.
I never understood how people would say “we’re so in love I can’t wait to marry him” my response. “Really, don’t fuck your life up, there’s so much more out there you know”. Now I believe once you know you just know, it’s a total different feeling, every other relationship I had I think we argued in the first few months and then the red flags flashed straight away but then your head justifies and says “it’s ok these things happen” I now believe that’s wrong.
I understand you will always have ups and downs but it should be easy, easy right from the start. That’s exactly what I’m experiencing, my relationship with my partner is easy. We love each other for who we are as people and we come together and share a true loving bond that I’ve never experienced before.
Personally for me this is a challenge as I didn’t believe I could have this right now, I thought that I had to achieve a certain level of success with business before I could allow this in my life, I thought that I still had personal development to work on before I could have such a great and happy relationship in my life.
My head was justifying all these reasons why I couldn’t have it but my intuition has known all along that I will get what I want if I start to believe it more. It also aligns with your life, are you 100% happy in your work place, with your social friends, in your health and fitness. And for the first time in my life I am so confident in who I am as a person, my health and fitness is a priority for me so that is aligned and I live every day in complete happiness I’m more saying “thank you, the time has come.”
Having this experience myself I believe everyone can achieve this, the number one thing we all need to get right first is to love yourself. It’s such a cliché quote but the saying goes “you can’t love others if you don’t love yourself” this quote is so true on so many levels so search deep down into yourself and start loving yourself and you will only get love back, it doesn’t necessarily have to be intimate relationships it can be as easy as your friends and who you surround yourself with. It all works the same way.
Life’s lessons will always hold in me in good stead…
There’s so much that I have learned over the last 8-10 years on working on my personal development. I believe you never stop learning, at any age. One of my favourite quotes is “those who know it all know nothing.” That motivates me to keep learning whether it be educational or personal development. Here are a few things (not all) that I have learnt over time.
♥️ Never be in a rush: I am still challenged by this and need to remind myself of this regularly. For me I have wanted to change my childhood experience so badly that I just want everything to happen now. I always remind myself of how old I am, what I’ve already achieved and what I’ve got to look forward to. The past is the past; I am not my past, I am not living my past ‘today’ the past is over. What’s done is done.
♥️ Don’t live in the future: do something little everyday today that puts me in the direction that I wish my future to be but I cannot predict what will happen. Live in the present moment; where I am right now is where I am. I am doing what it is in front of me and that is all I am doing. My favourite saying that I still live by every day is “Be where your feet are” it’s simple.
♥️ Take responsibility of your own actions: no one else is ever to blame but you, you are where you are because of your choices and your responsibility so own it and don’t blame others.
♥️ Always be happy: happiness is the number one key to success- real success. Do things that make you happy, be around people that make you laugh.
♥️ Always think positive or see the positive in every situation: keeping your thoughts happy and positives will eliminate disappointment or create good energy in your brain which will then vibrate through your body and that’s what people will see you as. Think negative and receive negative back.
♥️ Love yourself: this is so important, be happy for who you are on this earth. Have the confidence to go out and do anything you want, do the things you love- sport, academic, hobbies.. Could be anything, start doing it.
♥️ Never settle: never settle for anything less than who you are, job not fulfilling you? Then leave. Relationship not fulfilling you? Then leave. We waste so much time trying to please others where it will then come back around and bite us on our arse. Stand up for what you believe in and what you want, some will follow others will drop off- they’re not who you want to be around anyway.
♥️ Find your purpose or your why: Once you find this you will unlock a lot of empowerment within yourself and the things you do.
♥️ The time is now: this take me back to living in the present moment, all we’ve got is the time right now, use your time wisely, don’t waste and second fucking around doing things that don’t serve you. Get up and get out there. Make it happen.
♥️ Remember: You are the average of the 5 people you surround yourself with: hang around shit, become shit, hang around the best become the best. Surround yourself with people who lift you up, people who challenge you and bring the best out in you. Don’t be afraid of getting rid of a friend that you’ve known for 10 years, if they haven’t grown in those 10 years and you have then eventually you will bring yourself down as you’re thinking ‘well I’m doing better than so and so’ loyalty is a strong moral to have but your life and future is far more important, channel your energy into the right things for you and your future
I hope to empower and inspire women to leave violence behind…
I am a CrossFit coach in Brisbane and run my own personal training business. I really love working with people and helping people be a better version of themselves. I also lost my father late last year and as you could imagine there was a whole lot of emotions going on inside me but I wanted to take every positive I could from it and I still believe to this day that everything happens for a reason.
My Dad is here with me spiritually and with me now than he ever was in my life he has now given me permission to live my life without fear and go out there and keep chasing my dreams. Out of this I have now been working a lot more with women in domestic violence. I am involved with a couple of groups empowering women through health and fitness.
My ultimate life goal is to break the cycle, my purpose is to motivate, inspire and be a role model to anyone especially women to show them that no matter where they’ve come from or what they’ve been through you can achieve anything you want. There is hope, there is faith and there is support. ♥️
If you are in domestic violence crisis help is available from the Australia-wide telephone hotline 1800RESPECT. If you want to take part in the “Why I Stayed” project click here ♥️♥️♥️
Photograph by Sherele Moody © 2016.