A year ago, as she lay on the dock clinging to consciousness, she pleaded to her abuser: "If there is anything humane left within you, please help me." "You're fine," he said as he stepped on her and walked away. Moments earlier, he had attacked her from behind, grabbing her pony tail and flinging her around a docked power boat like a rag doll, her body slamming into every piece of furniture while he spat threats and berating words. Unable to feel anything, with a sudden visual impairment and in excruciating pain, Elishia managed to get to her feet. "That's the thing about resilience, it is the strength you have through fear…" she recalls of the adrenaline that powered her battered body that night.
The months that followed were a blur of rehabilitation – physical and mental. She also grew increasingly frustrated by a legal system she felt provided little justice, leaving her feeling victimized again and again. Like fear, Elishia quickly discovered anger was an extremely powerful motivator. "I realized the only person that could help me was me," she says. "I had two options, I could remain a victim or become victorious. So, I chose to survive. I chose victory."
Instead of beating her down, her attacker had, ironically, made her stronger. She couldn't stand the thought that her life was almost taken by another human being. It’s a rage that lingers. "It doesn't make sense to me that it's 2017 and things like this are still taking place. It's unfathomable. So, yes, I'm going to rise up."
As Elishia fought to regain her own strength, it occurred to her there were many other women facing the same or worse traumatic situations. Her purpose revealed itself: "I nearly died – I might as well be a safety net." Saving her own life has morphed into a crusade to assist others. She's started Resilience iAm The Organization. So far, it's resulted in a global photo campaign on human equality, stemmed through violence towards anyone, with a build-up on Instagram (@resilianceiam) where stories of people rising above and powering through adversity will be shared.
There is also a website in the works (www.resilienceiam.org) that aims to build victims, and virtually anyone, up from the inside out, with everything from health tips to resources and funding to assist women in circumstances of immediate violence and abuse. Working to bring hope to others has been a positive channel for her anger's energy, and lifted her higher than she imagined she'd be able to soar.
"So many people are already saying 'if you can do it, I can do it'. That's what keeps me going."