It’s a date they don’t want to miss. An outstretched hand that they gladly welcome. It is 2:45 p.m. at the Champ-de-Mars in Paris. The sun tries to make its way through scattered clouds. It’s nice out. This Tuesday, May 31, Myriam, Badia and Sandrine attended the muscle building session led by Karine Roussier.
Short hair, a smile glued to her lips and boundless energy, this fifties is the president of Up Sport! United for Sport, a solidarity association that promotes inclusive and accessible sports practice for the most deprived and vulnerable. For the third consecutive year, she accompanies, at the rate of one training per week, a small group of women victims of violence and followed by the Information Center on the Rights of Women and Families (CIDFF) in Paris.
The objective of these regular sports activities is to allow women to free themselves from the blockages caused by the violence they have suffered, to reclaim a body that is sometimes still bruised by beatings and to regain self-confidence. In the program ? Yoga and relaxation sessions, cycling, swimming, team sports or muscle strengthening and cardio. “The idea is to accompany them in a physical movement, thanks to sport, but also personal and professional”, explains Karine Roussier. To do this, she works in close collaboration with the psychologist and the professional integration counselor of the CIDFF.
In one of the gravelled paths of the Champ-de-Mars garden, colored plots are strewn on the ground and draw a circular course – or almost. In single file, the small group of women rushes forward and alternates knee raises, chasing steps and leaping strides. Each round concludes with ten squats and ten lunges. Circuit training time has come and Badia is already trying to negotiate. “Can’t we do six instead?” Nice try, but Karine does not let herself be coaxed.
Unity is strength
With her blond hair picked up by a black crocodile clip, Badia wears a mischievous smile and exudes the joy of living. Since she returned to the sport last February, she does not miss a workout. “It’s a moment when I find myself, I forget everything and I let go.” It’s also a breath of fresh air. A deep breath away from the four walls of the hotel room, which she has occupied since she left the marital home last December.
“It’s hard to be a battered woman. I had withdrawn into myself, I no longer had a taste for anything and I was heading step by step towards depression, she confides, her face suddenly more serious. Finding people who give you the strength to move forward is rare.”
This strength, each one also draws it from the life stories of each other. “We know that the people around us have also experienced difficult situations. It makes you feel less alone.” observes Sandra. Mother of three children, the 34-year-old is convinced of one thing: sport saved her life. “During the effort, you don’t think about the blows you received. You escape, you think about yourself or the ball you have to catch up with.”
When they put on their sneakers, the labels fly away for this sporting interlude. “I know their fragility and I remain vigilant, but I look at them above all as women, to help them no longer see themselves only as victims of domestic violence. adds Karine. Because that is above all what they are looking for. Bury this painful past and look to the future.
At the turn of a few volleyball passes, Badia shares with the rest of the group her desire to become a metro driver. “I worked for twenty years in the administration, today I want to change careers”, she admits. At his side, Sandrine dreams of being a gateball champion. A Japanese sport that revisits croquet and which she discovered thanks to Up Sport. “It’s not very well known yet, there may be a way!” she exclaims, laughing. Laughter, conviviality and time for discussion between teammates, that’s also what sport is all about.
It’s 4 p.m. Behind this small group of women who now play a game, at the crossroads of basketball and handball, stands a proud and confident Eiffel Tower. Badia, Myriam and Sandrine gradually raise their heads and reconnect with themselves. It’s only a matter of time before they too are proud and confident again.
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“Sport saved my life”: immersion in an association that helps women victims of violence to rebuild themselves
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