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For a professional wrestler, a headlock is a common maneuver inside the ring. But for TNA Total Impact’s Jade there was one headlock that felt particularly threatening. “When he finally let go, my then-boyfriend just left me there and I’m wondering what the hell just happened. Was he legitimately trying to hurt me? Because it was a headlock, and we’re both wrestlers, I justified it as maybe it was him trying to playfully end [the argument],” said Jade.

But this wasn’t the first time he put her in a headlock.

Jade had consensually wrestled her ex on numerous occasions. In fact, she prefers to wrestle both men and women. She wants women wrestlers to be seen as equals to their male counterparts. But it’s that pressure to break glass ceilings, and be seen as unbreakable, that contributed to her silence around her own abuse.

“Women athletes, CEOs, those in power, we feel this pressure to be a role model to other women, to be strong, that we don’t want to let them know our struggle. I didn’t want to be known as a ‘victim.’ I was also trying to get on TV, so if I tell my story, would this mess up my career?”

And so she stayed quiet for a long time. But behind closed doors, Jade says the abuse was escalating. “It got more and more regular that if I said something he didn’t like he would get violent. One time I was in bed and we had a disagreement, so he left the room but came back in to head-butt me. Then he started to choke me. In fact, whenever he didn’t like something I said, he would choke me. Soon down the line, I realized that his mindset was because I’m not hitting you, it’s ok. Because I’m not leaving a mark on you, it’s ok.”

But strangulation can be a significant predictor for future, often lethal violence. If a partner has strangled you in the past, your risk of being killed by them is seven times higher.Despite the violent abuse Jade says that she endured, some may see her as a contradiction. Many critics argue that professional wrestling promotes violence. And so how can Jade, a female wrestler, take a stand against domestic violence when she fights for a living?

For Jade, the answer centers on consent and safety. “We choose to get in the ring. We’re trained to keep ourselves and our opponents safe. But when someone brings it back home, that’s not wrestling anymore. That is not entertainment. That is just straight abuse.”

And experts caution against the “good victim” stereotype. Liz Roberts, deputy CEO of Safe Horizon, the nation’s largest organization dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence, states that the stereotype of a victim who has never initiated violence, is bruised and battered, and doesn’t fight back is dangerous because it “undermines the rights and safety of domestic violence survivors everywhere.”

Besides, Jade is a character.

The woman playing Jade, Stephanie Bell, only wanted empathy when she finally built the courage to disclose the horror she faced behind closed doors. “I just wish that, as wrestlers, when we claim that this is going on, that we’re not second-guessed, that we’re believed. The minute we mention it, it’s sensitive and we want some support.”

But she wasn’t always met with support. “His trainer, even some of our mutual friends thought I was exaggerating and making it up. When I filed the order of protection, his trainer tried to talk me out of it. He said that I was hurting my ex’s career because I have a bigger name.” Jade’s story is unique because so often the focus around domestic violence and professional wrestling comes when a male wrestler is the abuser. The voice of the survivor is rarely heard. Perhaps the most infamous case is that of Chris Benoit who, in 2007, murdered his wife and young son before taking his own life. It left such a dark cloud over World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) that they still often refuse to acknowledge Benoit as part of their history.

Today, wrestling companies seem to be taking swifter action when an arrest has been made. “We have a zero tolerance policy for domestic abuse. Upon arrest for such misconduct, our superstars are immediately suspended and should there be a conviction, that superstar… would be terminated,” Stephanie McMahon, chief brand officer of the WWE told The Washington Post. Under this policy, wrestling legend and active WWE announcer Jerry “The King” Lawler was immediately suspended in June after he and his girlfriend were arrested on domestic violence charges. Charges were later dropped.

At TNA, the policy is not as clearly defined, but they have also indefinitely suspended talent who have been arrested on domestic violence charges.

This all comes on the heels of what happened with the NFL and Ray Rice in 2014 when TMZ released disturbing footage of Mr. Rice punching and knocking out his then-fiancée. The NFL faced criticism for its response. Sports leagues now knew they had to update their policies to avoid negative press.

While Jade was happy that companies were now taking a strong stand against domestic violence, she also expressed disappointment that it took such an extreme incident to prompt the change. “If Ray Rice’s wife would have said something about it without the video, how many people would have said we need to change policies? How many people would have believed her? It took her getting knocked out on TV for society to care and actually believe a survivor.”However, Jade feels gratitude towards the company for which she wrestles. “TNA has always been supportive. My ex would work with TNA and once they found out I had the order of protection, they wouldn’t have him near me.”

In the locker room, what impacted Jade most were conversations with other female wrestlers. She viewed her female colleagues as strong, tough, and independent but she was shocked and saddened to learn that many others had also experienced abuse.

Jade found herself wanting to speak out, to give survivors everywhere — including herself and her friends — a voice. But she was afraid. Although she had an order of protection, she didn’t want to draw attention to herself and risk her ex trying to contact her.

And she found that way to speak out without attracting too much attention. She learned about Safe Horizon’s #PutTheNailinIt campaign which encourages all of us to paint our left ring fingernail purple to signify our vow to end domestic violence and the silence surrounding it. “I started getting more and more support from people who knew what the campaign meant or asked why my nail was painted. So, painting my nail became my secret way of telling the world ‘I’m a survivor.’ And, so, the #PutTheNailinIt campaign helped me a lot. For the first time in a long time I felt support from other people. Now, I want other survivors to know ‘I believe you.’ It’s ok to leave. It’s ok to speak out. It’s ok to seek help,” she said.

While the memories of Jade’s abuse are painful, she is no longer allowing the issue of domestic violence to thrive in silence.Have you taken the #PutTheNailinIt vow to end domestic violence?

Visit www.putthenailinit.org to learn how your vow can help victims become survivors.

Credit: Huff Post

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SHIMMER Volume 81
Kay Lee Ray & Mia Yim (Jade from TNA) defeated Melanie Cruise & Yumi Ohka

SHIMMER Volume 82
Cherry Bomb & Kimber Lee defeated Kay Lee Ray & Mia Yim to retain the SHIMMER Tag Team Championship

SHIMMER Volume 83
Jessicka Havok defeated Allysin Kay (Sienna from TNA) Mia Yim and Yumi Ohka

* Evie & Heidi Lovelace defeated Cherry Bomb (Allie in TNA) & Kimber Lee, KC Spinelli & Xandra Bale and Kay Lee Ray & Mia Yim (Jade in TNA) in a Four Way Elimination Match to win the SHIMMER Tag Team Championship

* Shayna Baszler (w/Nicole Savoy) defeated Mia Yim (Jade in TNA)

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Mia Yim makes her way to the ring with her ankle taped up and on crutches while wearing a Blue Pants shirt to mock Leva’s injury.

Match Number One: Money in the Bank Match: Kellie Skater versus Mia Yim versus Santana versus Nicole Matthews versus Ivelisse

Nicole and Mia go to the apron and Skater suggests the three remaining people in the start. It is Santana and Kellie to start things. They lock up and Santana with a waist lock. Skater with a drop toe hold into a chin lock. Santana with a wrist lock but Skater with a reversal. Santana with a reversal of her own into a hammer lock. Skater goes for a head lock but Santana works on the neck. Skater with a full nelson but Santana with a rollup for a near fall. Skater with a side head lock take down but Santana with a head scissors. Santana with a leg sweep and a near fall. Skater with a leg sweep and near fall of her own.

Matthews and Mia refuse to tag in but Ivelisse will face Skater. Skater misses a few kicks and so does Ivelisse. Ivelisse with kicks to the leg followed by knees to the head. Ivelisse blocks a kick but misses an elbow drop and so does Skater. Santana tags in and Matthews goes back to the floor as well as Mia. Santana with a front face lock but Ivelisse with a hammer lock. Santana with a side head lock. Santana with a wrist lock but Ivelisse with a front face lock. Santana with a take down and she gets a near fall. Ivelisse with a near fall. Santana and Ivelisse shake hands before continuing and Matthews and Mia are finally tagged in.

Mia brings her crutches into the ring. Ivelisse tries to kick them away. Mia tags in Skater before locking up. Matthews tries to tag in Ivelisse or Santana. Skater with kicks to Matthews followed by a running kick to the chest. Ivelisse wants to tag in and Skater allows it. Ivelisse with kicks and chops. Ivelisse with forearms and then follows with a running elbow. Santana with an elbow. Santana gets a near fall on Matthews.

Mia tags in and she kicks Santana and chokes her in the ropes. Mia with a biel to Santana. Mia chokes Santana in the corner and follows with a gutwrench suplex and she chokes Santana with her bandages. Mia kicks Santana in the back and gets a near fall. Santana gets a roll up on Mia but Mia with a drop kick. Mia sends Santana to the sound booth and then Mia has to be held back as she goes after Leva who left the commentary area. Matthews takes over and she snap mares Santana.

Mia Yim is Eliminated

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Knockouts Championship Match – Jade (c) vs. Sienna vs. Gail Kim

Maria and Allie are watching on from the ramp. Lots of three-way moves and roll-ups until it breaks down to Gail and Jade both going after Sienna. Jade with a springboard into a beautiful tilt-a-whirl DDT, followed by a top rope hurricanrana. Gail hits Eat Da Feet on Sienna but is pulled out of the ring by Allie, and goes right after Maria. Sienna is going to hit Jade with the title belt, but Marti Bell shows up out of nowhere and nails the champ with a foreign object; Sienna picks up the win.

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TNA Knockouts Champion, Jade aka Mia Yim speaks with Brian H Waters about her career and her path to becoming the TNA Knockouts Champion.

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