MOUNT VERNON — New Directions kicked off October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month last week with a dinner featuring Boxing Hall of Famer Christy Martin.
A coal miner’s daughter hailing from a small town in southern West Virginia, Martin said she grew up never seeing or knowing about domestic violence. She played sports and went to college. She entered the world of boxing, eventually meeting coach Jim Martin.
“He became my trainer, my husband, and my abuser,” Martin said. “He told me I was going to make him a lot of money, and from then on, that’s what it was about.”
Going to dinner early in their relationship, Martin said she told Jim intimate details about her thoughts, ideas, and life.
“I thought I could trust him. I never knew that would come back to haunt me,” she said.
“Domestic violence is not just about bruises. I felt like if I had bruises I could have gotten help. My domestic violence was more emotional, mental, controlling, isolation, and financial.”
Martin noted she has had many roles in her life: wife, hall-of-famer, daughter, stroke victim, and boxer.
“The one I am the most proud of is domestic violence survivor,” she said.
New Direction’s Director Lindsey Lamp retold the rest of Christy’s story to Knox Pages on Tuesday.
It was Nov. 23, 2010, Christy and Jim were at their Florida home when Christy experienced what she described as a near-death experience.
Jim picked up a knife and repeatedly stabbed and cut his wife, Lamp recalled. Christy thought she was going to die, going in and out of consciousness. Jim picked up a pistol and shot Christy three inches from her heart. Jim thought he finished the job. He hopped in the shower meanwhile Christy was awake unknown to Jim.
Christy said she prayed, “give me the strength to get out of here.”
Christy pulled herself up, grabbed the pistol and a set of keys and ran outside. It wasn’t until she walked outside that she realized it was the wrong set of keys to the car. She ran down the roadway.
A vehicle passed her, while Christy was bloody holding a gun. She made it to a neighbor’s home and was brought to the hospital.
Jim is now serving 25 years in prison.
Christy suffered through financial and emotional distress while becoming a drug abuser for the span of their 22-year relationship.
Lamp said, Jim often said to Christy, “If you leave me I’m going to kill you,” over time she realized that was true. Jim also held sensitive information over his wife’s head, like how she was bisexual and used cocaine.
“He would always threaten to share that information out, videos of her doing cocaine,” Lamp said of the power-control dynamic.
Christy wanted her amateur boxing career to end with 50 wins. She ended with 49 before Jim’s attack. Yet after surviving the attack, Christy won her 50th bout.
Lamp said saw Christy’s story as a way to highlight champions in the Knox County community.
“We’ve worked hard to keep our community informed about domestic violence,” Lamp said. “We focus on celebrating those who are champions for survivors and those who want to learn more to be active (…) active bystanders to help create that social change.”
The reason behind using the word champion is because of the perceived shamefulness that comes with domestic violence, Lamp said.
“Whether it’s you or your abuser saying ‘This is your fault.’ you deserve a healthy relationship. You deserve care and love. And we’re here to remind you of that.”
Correspondent Cheryl Splain contributed to this report.
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