Mia Yim brought awareness of domestic violence to the wrestling world in 2016 when she came forward as a survivor. Since telling her story, she has signed with the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) and has emerged as a rising talent of their “women’s revolution.” She has also served as a powerful voice for other survivors.
In the ring, she has donned purple ring gear and fingernails (a nod to the color of the domestic violence movement). She is referred to as “…the Rose that grew from concrete,” a fitting moniker for a woman that overcame abuse to become a star in her field.
Below our Director of Communications & Marketing, Brian Pacheco (also Mia’s friend), talks with Mia about her past, her message for survivors, and NYLAG’s #RethinkCredibility campaign.
BRIAN: I’m so proud of everything you’re doing! You’re an inspiration. Let’s jump into it. What are some the legal challenges you faced as a domestic violence survivor?
MIA: I didn’t report immediately after the abuse because I was scared to get the legal system involved, and I also hoped things would get better. But the abuse escalated, and I knew I needed to get out, and safely. That’s why I filed an order of protection.
It’s always a struggle when it’s he said/she said. And because I’m a wrestler I felt like any bruising I had could be explained by that. I feel like I am one of the lucky ones that didn’t really have to deal with doubts from law enforcement. But since coming forward with my story, I’ve heard from so many survivors that this wasn’t the case for them. The legal system needs training on speaking sensitively to survivors because when we come forward, we’re so vulnerable. Any insensitive comment can make us close up and not seek help.
BRIAN: Did people believe you when you came forward? Did they think you were credible?
MIA: Friends that had experienced abuse themselves believed me because they saw the signs. I was isolating myself. I wasn’t happy. My family believed me, too, because I wasn’t acting the way they were used to. However, many of my ex’s friends did not believe me. They assumed I didn’t know what I was talking about or was exaggerating. Many people thought because I was muscular and a wrestler that this couldn’t happen to me. I didn’t fit the stereotype of what a survivor of domestic violence looks like.
(Pictured: Brian Pacheco, Mia Yim, and mutual friend Jordan Mendez backstage at a WWE NXT Show)
BRIAN: You wrestle in the WWE. People see you as physically strong. Did this impact how people viewed your claims when you disclosed you are a survivor?
MIA: Absolutely. I received a lot of “Why didn’t you fight back?” from people on social media when in reality I tried. There’s only so much I could do against a man who was physically stronger than me. But WWE has been amazing to me. When I did my first show with them two years ago, they featured my domestic violence story. And fans would come up to me and say I was brave or disclosed their own abuse. It’s been a big part of my healing process.
BRIAN: What’s your message for other survivors? For society at-large?
MIA: For survivors: Silence is the abuser’s best weapon. If you feel ready and safe, consider speaking up, try getting help. I was surprised at the amount of support I received when I opened up. I honestly didn’t expect it. Even if it feels like you have isolated yourself, the friends and family who love you will always be there for you. It’s OK to open up and ask for help. And if your loved ones don’t support you, call a hotline, or visit a local domestic violence organization.
For society: It takes a lot of courage for a survivor to come forward. If someone discloses to you, don’t question them, just validate their story and give them support.
BRIAN: What do you think about NYLAG and the #RethinkCredibility campaign?
MIA: I admire that NYLAG’s lawyers and paralegals are trained in trauma. I also appreciate that services are free because many abusers control their victim’s finances and some survivors can’t leave because they don’t have access to financial resources.
I think the #RethinkCredibility campaign is very important. So often when survivors disclose we’re not believed or are made to feel like we caused it. This campaign shifts the blame away from survivors and opens a conversation on the many systems that prevent survivors from accessing justice.
BRIAN: Any last words?
MIA: I am credible because I am a survivor. I stand for the people who appear strong in the public eye, or to their loved ones, but who experience the horrors of abuse in private. There is no stereotypical victim. It can happen to anyone regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation etc. #RethinkCredibility gives voice to all survivors. Share your story!
Learn more at nylag.org/RethinkCredibility