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Detra’s story

Part 11

“I’d always head straight to the gym after my shift at Starbucks. Martin trained me for free the entire time I was in the shelter. He told me that he was going to turn me into a fighter. He was hard on me. He said I had more problems than a math book. And if I ever complained, he’d call me a drama queen. One afternoon I came in upset, because I’d just gotten an email from my husband– saying I was outside the will of God. It had really shaken me. But when I told Martin what happened, all he said was: ‘Fuck that shit.’ He told me to get in the ring. And as he wrapped my hands, he said: ‘We’re going to do things a little different today. Every time you throw a cross, you’re going to say: ‘Fuck that shit.’ I laughed. I said: ‘Oh, no. I don’t talk like that.’ But Martin wasn’t laughing. He said: ‘You’ll talk like that today.’ I looked around the gym, and it was just me and him. So I gave it a try. Jab with the left. Jab with the left. Cross with the right, and: ‘Fuck that shit.’ Martin was wearing the pads on his hands; and he’s saying: ‘Louder. kid. Louder.’ He said: ‘Nobody fucks with you, nobody.’ Which wasn’t true of course, because I’d been fucked with my entire life. But I tried it again, this time even louder: ‘Fuck that shit.’ Louder. ‘Fuck! That! Shit!’ We did it for thirty minutes. With each punch, I got louder and louder until I was screaming. At first those words were just about my husband, and the email he had sent. But as I kept hitting the pads, those words became something else. It became my way of giving voice to everything that was done to me in the name of God. The psychological abuse in the marriage. The sexual abuse as a child. All the guilt I’d been made to feel, all the shame. Fuck. That. Shit. It was wrong. I’ve known it was wrong my whole life. But I never defended myself. Or if I tried, it was: ‘Get back in your place.’ But now I was doing something. I was fighting back. At the end of the day when I walked out the door, I felt relieved of so much pain. Martin called me over to the desk. He said: ‘Listen, kid. From now on, every time someone tries to mess with you, or makes you feel less than, you gotta say it: ‘Fuck that shit.’”

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