Pushed by Pain: The College Blur

TAGS: University of Akron, Pushed by Pain, article series, domestic violence, story, sexual assault, college student, motivation, abuse, personal growth, exercise science, Alycia Israel, personal training, athlete, powerlifting

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If you haven’t read Part 1 of my story, hit that up first and come back.

Man, where do I begin?

Needless to say, the first year of college was a blur. But looking back, I honestly wasn’t fazed much in the moment. There were definitely traits I exhibited that were caused by everything going on, now that I look back, but in that moment, I felt like instincts just took over, and I went into full protection mode. I still got straight A's that semester and developed great friendships. It is crazy how our bodies and minds will protect us from ourselves and keep us moving forward. This came to be true later on as well.


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After my first year of school, my sister and I decided to transfer to the University of Akron to be closer to our mom. Not to mention my love for volleyball just died, so I had zero desire to maintain my scholarship. I just didn’t want to play anymore, and it reminded me of my dad. So my sister and I said, “Fuck it, we quit,” and we left to go live with our mom. Little did I know this decision would be the first stepping stone into my career and passion, so even though it is cliché, everything does happen for a reason.

That summer, living with our mom was hard. We knew she needed help with paying bills and to get back on her feet, so unlike most college kids relaxing by the pool all summer, my sister and I got a full-time job in a bread factory. Yes, a factory. My sister lasted less than a day; I toughed it out for three months. It paid $12 an hour, which at the time was a goldmine, and we got paid weekly. Every day I would wake up at 4 a.m., go shuffle bread in a factory, come home at 4 p.m., and hand my mom a check on Fridays.

To many, this might not seem like a big deal, but remember, I was the girl in high school who never had a job and zero understanding of the value of money. I was literally thrown into the wolves’ den with 50-year-old men sexually harassing me all day every day and working my ass off.

It was traumatizing at the time and was easily one of the hardest times of my life. I actually lost my cycle due to the stress (I am going to assume that is what did it; I hated my life, to say the least). But man, did it teach me about adversity and grit. Shuffling bread into an oven for eight hours straight next to a creepy old dude can get pretty exhausting and mind-numbing. But every job I’ve held since then has felt like a walk in the park, so I’ve got some perspective, to say the least.

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That fall I started up at the University of Akron and was majoring in biology. I’ve always been a huge science nerd; it was my favorite subject all through high school. When it came to the sciences, I flourished. But during this time, I was trying to find my place in a new school, and I definitely got caught up in the wrong crowd. Looking back, I can see that I wasn’t fully valuing myself during this time. I wasn’t picky about my friends or the situations I put myself in, and I was very naïve.

One night, I met a guy at a concert, and we became friends. He invited me to go to a party with him the next weekend, so I went. Why not? When we got to this party, it was at a nicer house in an upper middle-class neighborhood. So even though I didn’t know this guy super well — or at all — I felt safe. Oh, how wrong I was.

When we walked into the house, I saw it clearly wasn’t a party. It was just a house filled with about five guys drinking in the kitchen. But at the time, this didn’t faze me; all my friends at the time were guys, so this was nothing out of the ordinary for me. So, I started drinking with them.

Now keep in mind at the time, I was 19 to 20 years old, and I could drink like a sailor like most college kids at that age. It took a lot to get me drunk, that’s for sure. So when I noticed after having only one drink that I felt super off, I knew something was not right. I never felt that way after drinking in my entire life. I had probably what would have been one to two shots worth of alcohol, and everything around me started to spin. I played it off because I didn’t want to seem lame, but as I started feeling off, I thought about the two times I went to the bathroom in the last hour and left my drink in the kitchen. At that moment, I fucking knew.


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I still tried to play it off and told the guys I needed to use the bathroom again. I “went to use the bathroom,” but instead went upstairs and into a bedroom. I didn’t really know what I was doing; I just knew I was scared and fucked up. Everything was still blurry and off, but I knew I was in a little girl’s room because everything was pink and adorable. Moments after entering the room, however, the guy, my supposed friend, barged in and attacked me.

Do you remember those Hulk moments from Part 1? Yeah, well, the only positive trait I gained from my dad strikes again. Also to preface this, this upcoming part of my story was not in my memory in that moment or even the next day. Anyone who has experienced trauma (especially when it could have involved drugs) will tell you it comes back in pieces. I just want to preface that as I tell my story because it honestly took months and months after the fact for me to recall everything in detail. Again, your brain will protect you in ways you don’t understand until you experience it. Flight or flight is an understatement of your brain’s protective power.

So this guy fucking attacked me and pulled at my clothes, like you can imagine. I was terrified. When I get terrified, I Hulk out. And I did. I mostly remember waking up the next morning, in this little girl’s room with her stuff broken and toys everywhere and blood on my knuckles and forearms.

I remember bits and pieces of me whaling on this guy, and I remember the sounds he made when I hit him. I remember him saying, “It’s fine” over and over again. I remember kicking him through the door and locking it, but after that, everything goes black.

I woke up the next day, sprawled on my back, half on the bed and half off, I said, “What… the… fuck…”

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I sat in that room for over an hour trying to figure out what the hell happened. I wear contacts, so it took 20 minutes alone for those to refocus so I could see anything. Again at the time, I had no pieces about what had happened; I just felt pure terror and chaos and a rock in my stomach. I was so sick to my stomach as I was looking at my swollen hands and wondering what the hell I should do. But as I sat there, even though I didn’t have the pieces, I knew that guy tried to hurt me. It was pretty fucking obvious.

So I just sat there. I didn’t have my phone. Nothing. I had no idea what to do. I was just sitting in this little girl’s room in the middle of butt fuck nowhere. I knew my purse, which contained my phone, was downstairs, but I was so scared to leave. After about an hour of sitting there in complete silence, I decided to make a dash for it.

I slowly crept out of the room and down the stairs, listening to make sure no one detected my footsteps. I grabbed my purse by the kitchen and bolted out the door. I had no idea if anyone was even in the house or not. I just ran. I probably ran three to five blocks away and called a friend at the time to come get me once I located a street address. Again, this was before Uber and smartphones. How my phone still had battery left is beyond me.


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I waited about 30 to 45 minutes outside (mind you, it was early October, so I just remember being freezing cold) some other person’s house about five blocks away and got picked up. The crazy thing is, when my friend picked me up, she asked me, “What happened?”

And I lied. I made up some story about everyone getting drunk and forgetting me, blah, blah, blah, because I was still so in shock, I didn’t want to believe it. Not to mention I couldn’t quite recall anything, anyways.

I just knew I was scared, and apparently, I beat the shit out of someone. I had a jacket on and made sure to cover my stretched-out tank and bloody hands. I convinced myself in that moment it had all been a big joke and nothing happened.

My friend dropped me off at home, and I am pretty sure I slept for two days straight. Never in my life have I had that bad of a headache and felt that lethargic.

As the months went by, small pieces of that night started to come back to my memory. I would just be sitting in class or driving my car, and all of a sudden something would POP! It almost felt like I was remembering pieces of a dream, pieces such as the looks on those guys’ faces when I was drinking.

I didn’t realize it then, but when it started to come back, they looked pure evil. I started remembering frantically swinging my arms. I remembered his voice. I remembered feeling pure fear and vulnerability in the worst way. And even though “I won” per se, that night dug a hole in my heart that remains there in part to this day.

That guy never reached out to me again, and I never reached out to him. I ignored it, pretended it didn’t happen and buried it. It is something I am not proud of, but again, it was a way of my own mind protecting itself. I completely suppressed the entire event. Only one other person to this day has heard this story. I’ve never told anyone.

I’m not trying to go on a political rant here, but I will say from experience, do not be so quick to judge someone’s trauma. I can attest that I convinced myself nothing happened for months, even when pieces were coming back. I suppressed the entire thing for years without even realizing it or meaning to do that. It’s called suppressed memories. Look it up before you point fingers and assume malintent of someone’s story. Moving on.

By this time, it was around November, so it was time to schedule spring semester classes. I knew at that moment that I never wanted to rely on my instincts or the only decent gene my dad passed down to me to save my ass. I wanted to feel powerful and in control at all times.

It was then that I decided to switch from biology and pursue an exercise science degree to learn how to become strong. I wanted to lift weights and hold my own in all situations and teach others, especially women, to do the same.


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Since starting this article series about my story, many people have asked why I am telling it and why now. I’m telling it now because I want people to understand that there is so much more to people than what meets the eye. It is so easy for us to look at someone in the now and make an assessment. If only we knew some back-story, we might view them a bit differently.

I truly believe my life events are the absolute reasons I chose my career path and do what I do for a living. Helping people accomplish goals and cross barriers is what I fucking love doing. I love it because I had to learn the hard way and how important it is to be strong inside and out. Being strong will save you. Helping others achieve strength is my way of paying it forward. Initially, I may have been pushed by pain, but through the following few years of my life after those shitty events, I became pulled by purpose instead.

In the last part of this article series, I am going to dive into my college years in the field and where I am now. In short, the happy stuff. But the happy stuff never would have come to fruition without the trials. I know it is my purpose to be on this Earth and do great things for people. So that’s what I am going to do. Stay tuned for Part 3.


If you or a loved one is dealing with domestic violence, reach out to these resources.  All hotlines listed below are available 24/7 and are confidential unless otherwise noted. If possible, call your local authorities.


Part 1: Pushed by Pain

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