TRIGGER WARNING: The following article contains information about sexual assault and eating disorders which may be triggering to survivors or people in recovery.
The #MeToo movement has brought to the surface a topic that has been buried and accepted as a way of life for far too long. It has given women a voice and a platform to speak up and tell their stories of sexual violence thereby inciting the urgency for change. While it may not happen overnight, together we can bring awareness to this issue and create change. Let’s continue telling our stories, supporting women, setting expectations that create a new generation of allies, educating our existing advocates, and calling out unacceptable behavior in safe ways.
Janelle Lescure is a valued member of our Movemeant community and a fierce role model for girls and women everywhere. Janelle’s story conveys how the impact of sexual assault extends far beyond the day it happened. It can sink its teeth into every corner of your life and shake both your sense of self and your sense of ownership over your body. Being a survivor and reacting to sexual assault does not look like one thing. Trauma can manifest in many different ways. But no matter where the the pain leads, Janelle’s story proves, there is hope.
If you are a survivor of sexual assault, please seek help in your healing journey. For Janelle and many others, finding a community of support was critical element in reclaiming their confidence. At Movemeant Foundation, we build our community on the principles of love and support and the belief that all bodies welcome, capable, strong, and most importantly, worthy of love. If you would like to learn more about Movemeant, share your story, or just lean on someone for support, please do not hesitate to reach out to us directly. More information about #MeToo and survivor resources will be linked at the bottom of this page.
This ‘Do it for you. Do it for her.’ story by Janelle Lescure was edited and condensed by Jessi Greenlee.
Mondays have become my favorite days. I spring out of bed when my alarm rings at 4:30 a.m., and I drive to my studio, LIFT exercise, to teach my early morning bike classes. I’ve been so blessed with the ability to get up on that podium every week, to connect with my community--whether it’s people I’ve known for years, or I have only just met. If someone had told me this was what I’d be doing four years ago, I would’ve laughed, but it rings true to my favorite phrase:
“You are entirely up to you.”
So simple, but these are words I read to myself everyday as a reminder that every choice and every intention I set helps develop who I am. Nobody else has that power.
My life, and my understanding of everything I’ve experienced, changed dramatically when I was sexually assaulted during my sophomore year of college. My ability to trust people was lost, and my own understanding of my worth went with it.
I’ve never known how to react, even to this day. I don’t like the word rape, but that’s what it was. I was raped. I pushed the confusion and all the emotions surrounding it under the rug. I pretended it hadn’t happened. I couldn’t even bare to tell my friends and family.
The night I was assaulted, I lost control over my body and my sense of self. I spent the next few years desperately trying to regain control, but the trauma and denial of the incident left me fumbling to put the pieces back together. Instead of addressing my assault, I pushed the memory out of my mind and started channeling my unresolved anger, distrust and pain into things I could control: drinking and hooking up.
After months of partying, I shifted my behaviors to focus on things I saw as healthier. Instead of drinking, I discovered joy in the endorphins I found at the gym. I paired exercise with eating better and found myself losing weight. It felt really good and boosted my confidence. People were complimenting how I looked, asking how I did it. I relished in the positive attention, and I used it to fuel my new outlet for control. Now I had the gym and “eating better” as something to focus all my attention on - instead of the deep rooted problems I was dealing with internally.
What started as what I thought was a healthy shift in focus, escalated quickly and turned into an eating disorder. It came on hard and fast. Suddenly all my energy was devoted to my “health”; I was spending several hours in the gym and eating much less than what my body needed in a day. In less than a year I lost significant weight, yet I still never felt good enough. I overlooked feelings of dizziness, pain when touched, and the little hairs that grew all over my body because I was forever cold - all so I could achieve this “amazing” feat of will power and dedication.
I wanted to prove to myself I was worthy and in control of not just my body, but my life.
The crazy part about eating disorders is that they can be your best friend and your biggest critic. I truly believed I was stronger and better than those around me because I could restrain myself from eating and keep a consistent fitness regime. I became an expert at redirecting concerned thoughts and reframing comments as motivation. But when I looked in the mirror, I still saw a heavier girl with weight to lose, someone who was taken advantage of and couldn’t trust anyone. I saw a woman who felt unlovable - because if I couldn’t love myself, how could I be loved by anybody else?
As my superhero father always does, he brought me back to reality. He pulled me aside and brought me to the doctor during spring break, where they brought up the severity of my situation. By doing what I was doing, I was putting my organs at risk. For myself, who already deals with a pre-existing heart murmur, the reality set in: my actions were life threatening—I needed help.
Realizing that I was still in school but needed to take my health seriously, I worked with nutritionists, doctors and psychologists to build a plan to recovery. The hardest part was taking the time to open up to myself and express how I really felt. Dissecting my eating disorder meant finally stepping up to my sexual assault and acknowledging the pain I kept inside. The work was not easy, but the journey opened my eyes to a community of hope: Movemeant and We Dare to Bare!
Through this foundation, I saw the work being done to empower women through movement. They were retraining the mindset to teach women how to love their bodies unconditionally. And through that community, I met so many women who had similar experiences to me. It made me hopeful that I would find normalcy again, and it was comforting to know I found a community I could not only relate to, but was welcomed into with open arms.
Now in my adult life, I am thriving in my own confidence and growing it everyday! I have found body and food freedom, in a body I feel comfortable in, while also training to become the fittest and strongest I’ve ever known myself to be. I have been with my wonderful boyfriend who has stood by my side through thick and thin, been there for everything else, and truly accepts me for who I am. He has seen my anxiety and helps me diffuse those feelings, rewiring the way I think. With him, I have been able to find more happiness than I’ve known in years, and have been able to train for my newfound passion of teaching bike down in San Jose. I don’t know how I would’ve been able to do this without his unwavering love and support.
As much as I thought I could face things on my own, the difference that comes from asking for help is phenomenal.
It’s hard to know just how strong a support network can be and what they’ll stand for with you, until you find it! I’m blessed to have found both my LIFT studio and We Dare to Bare, I only hope to welcome just as many women into these communities as those who brought me into it.
Coming into my second We Dare to Bare, I wanted to take it further. I want to give back to Movemeant as much as it’s given to me.
By participating in this year’s We Dare to Bare, I aim to support future generations of women and reaffirm to each and every one, that they ARE worthy of loving themselves, and they can get there.
My dream is to help create a future where girls grow up knowing how amazing they are, and the power they gain through movement and women’s fitness are more meaningful than they could ever imagine. I choose to show my support by participating in We Dare to Bare, fundraising for the cause, and spreading the messages of Movemeant every chance I get.
These may be small steps, but they are movement forward, and Movemeant is what matters.
More about the author: Janelle Lescure
Janelle is a long time Movemeant community member based out of the Bay Area. If there is one thing Janelle is not, its basic. Her drive and passion shows in everything she does including her fundraising efforts. For this year’s We Dare to Bare, she took the plunge and signed up for VIP and has a goal to raise $2,000 for the organization. To reach this monumental goal she decided to switch things up and tackle her fundraising efforts in a way that felt authentic to her: she is hosting her OWN charity spin ride down in San Jose. The event will be taking place at LIFT Exercise in Willow Glen on April 13th at 11:45AM. Tickets for her event are on sale now. If cannot make it down to SJ but would still like to support Janelle and her passion for empowering other women, please consider donating to her fundraising page and helping her hit her goal.
Survivor Resources & #MeToo
National Sexual Violence Center: The NSVRC’s mission is to provide leadership in preventing and responding to sexual violence through collaboration, sharing and creating resources, and promoting research.