Outdoor clothing brand and endurance accessories expert, SealSkinz, recently launched an awesome campaign called I Am Endurance. It tells the stories of some truly amazing individuals who’ve overcome challenges and obstacles to push themselves both mentally and physically.
The first in this series was Sandy Plenty‘s beautiful story of overcoming a severe heart condition through his passion for mountain biking. Certainly worth a watch! But the second video tells the uplifting story of Traharn Chidley, a truly inspiring woman who overcame domestic abuse through mountain biking and trail running.
29-year-old Traharn, who now competes internationally in the elite category for Gravity Enduros, had a happy start to life. At the tender age of 17, however, she started going out with a boy. And sadly the relationship quickly turned abusive.
“Domestic abuse is depressingly common,” says Traharn. So many people suffer in silence, but this only makes the perpetrator more powerful. She hopes by sharing her story, she can help those in similar situations see the light, believe in themselves, get stronger and escape.
The abuse whittled her down emotionally. Daily her boyfriend would call her fat and ugly. He told her she was lucky to have him and that no one could love her like he did. Not once did he ever pay her a compliment. But the abuse went beyond simply verbal attacks.
She’d gotten used to being dragged around by her hair — along the corridor, down the stairs — being kicked in the stomach, she even once had her jaw dislocated. She started fearing for her life, but she couldn’t tell anyone, because he’d even threatened to kill her family. She felt trapped, worthless, alone.
At the lowest of her lows, her younger brother (18), got in touch with her. He’d started working as a ski-instructor in Whistler, Canada, biking in the summer months. “I suddenly thought, if he died tomorrow, he’d be happy with the fulfilling life he’d chosen,” Traharn shares. “But if I died tomorrow, I’d regret everything and have nothing to show.” Things had to change.
Even though she tried to hide it, he knew she was unhappy. So he suggested she get hold of her dad’s hardtail bike and go out with his friends. So she did just that.
“I sucked at first. My butt was sore, my shins were battered and I wasn’t very fit, but I loved it.” She finally felt free. Happy. “It made me laugh and slowly started bringing joy and control back into my life.” She’d found the thing that really made her tick. Her love for mountain biking and the great outdoors was slowly starting to change her perspective on life. She found a fire inside her and she found strength. A strength she thought she’d lost.
She was persistent with her biking and improved quickly. She was getting mentally stronger, and slowly she found her self-worth starting to come back. “For me, being outdoors soothes the soul more than anything else. It’s so powerful and healing,” Traharn shares. “Whether it’s blustery conditions or a glorious summer’s day, I feel safe. I respect the mountains and hillsides, lakes and forests, and together they push me to be a better version of myself.”
After a few short months of running and cycling, she gained the strength she needed to break away from her abusive relationship. It was hard though and her boyfriend became even more threatening. It seemed like he’d finally lost control. “Holding a kitchen knife, his eyes wild, he backed me into the corner,” Traharn recalls. “My friend didn’t realise what she was about to do that day, but she saved my life. As he stepped closer, she knocked on the door. It startled him and he snapped out of it. If it wasn’t for her I truly believe he would’ve killed me.”
This beautiful, strong, talented woman had been led to believe that she was weak and pathetic. But she was strong. In fact she’s an inspiration to me and I’m sure to you too. She’d endured a terrible relationship and had somehow still found the strength she needed to escape.
Despite the horror that those years were, Traharn says she doesn’t regret them. “It’s made me who I am today,” she says. “I am more determined, motivated, happy and confident than I could’ve ever imagined. I know exactly what I want from life. I appreciate my friends and family more than ever and each day brings a new opportunity.”
Traharn’s story is an incredibly heart-warming one and if you’d like to read more, you can check it out on SealSkinz’s blog.