Why I Run: Khadijah

Editor’s Note: The “Why I Run” Series is a three-part series featuring survivors of sexual assault and their loved ones who include physical fitness as part of their healing process. Join them on May 21st for the third annual Lace Up for RAINN 5K. Learn more and sign up to participate. Read Laurel's story here.

Self-care, both physical and emotional, is about taking steps to ensure you feel healthy and comfortable. It can look different for everyone: some people focus on getting enough sleep, while others may prefer meditation or journaling. For Khadijah, physical activity is key.

“I love staying active. I find that lifting weights and running helps with my depression and anxiety,”

Khadijah said. Khadijah began incorporating exercise into her self-care routine as a way to overcome some of the challenges she faced after surviving multiple instances of sexual assault as a child and teen. These experiences left her with painful feelings of self-doubt that were reinforced when she chose not to report to police.

Survivor of sexual assault Kadijah exercises at the gym as a form of self care. “I never got justice, so I was highly affected by what happened to me,” Khadijah said.

In the years following the assaults, Khadijah worked to overcome many issues she faced, including anxiety and depression and an eating disorder. Part of her recovery process included getting active and staying healthy. It was a good fit for Khadijah because she participated in sports at a young age, including dance and running track.

“Running is fun, good for your body, helps release stress and makes you feel good,” Khadijah said.

When Khadijah is not hopping on the treadmill at the gym, she enjoys writing poetry, dancing, singing, and working on her autobiography. Healing from a sexual assault looks different for everyone, but she encourages other survivors to find things they like to do to relieve stress and keep working toward healing.

“Keep fighting and never give up,” Khadijah said.

Join supporters and survivors like Khadijah at the Lace Up for RAINN 5K on May 21st, either virtually or in-person in Washington, DC. Learn more and sign up to participate. If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, it’s not your fault. You are not alone. Help is available 24/7 through the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE and online.rainn.org, y en español: rainn.org/es.