Even Olympic Gold Medalists Can Be Victims of Domestic Abuse
Ruthie Bolton is a strong woman: The former women's basketball player has competed at the collegiate, professional, and Olympic levels, and served in the U.S. Army Reserves. She's the last person you'd think of as a victim.
But the two-time Olympic gold medalist recently shocked Refinery29 readers by opening up about the abuse she suffered during her 10-year marriage to her ex. Perhaps even more stunning was the athlete's admission that she "never attempted to fight back at all."
While Bolton was training for the 1996 Olympics during the day, at night she slept by her husband who kept a gun on him "in case [she tried] something." On the day they renewed their vows, after six years of marriage, Bolton said she went home with a black eye. Still, "there is nothing anyone could have told me that day to get me to leave the relationship," she said.
"As a victim, you still want to protect your partner," Bolton continued. "And the more others try to bash them, the more you cling to them." Even today, she doesn't share her story to bash her ex-husband, Bolton said, but to raise awareness.
For those who ask why she didn't fight back, Bolton said she believed it would be disrespectful. She chose instead to protect herself and focus on getting through the violence instead of escalating it. "In my mind, if I didn't fight back, it would be over sooner," she said.
Bolton's message for domestic violence victims (who often feel they deserve what they receive) is to put someone else in your shoes. "Think about someone you truly love: your child, or your niece, sister, mother," she said.
Video: The sprinting records that still stand - Florence Griffith Joyner - Seoul 1988 Olympic Games
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