Blue's UnBashful Blog

Blue's UnBashful Blog

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Shatter the Silence!

I was recently interviewed to explain my love for running and triathlon and why it's important to Shatter the Silence of sexual abuse. 

The 3rd annual Shatter the Silence 7 mile trail run is Thursday August 16th check out info for the race here:

Grunt Girl Racing

The interview:

* Basic personal info about you: name (spelling), age, occupation, education, home town, etc. Anything you're willing to share. (I will be looking up the Grunt Girls newsletter profile, but it's always good to make sure everything is updated.)

Megan Flanigan, 31 in July, I am a manager at General Plug and Mfg (a family business), and I’m the Mayor of the Village of Grafton, the town in which I was born and raised.   I have my Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Forensic Psychology and I’m 5 classes away from my MBA.  I’m working towards my group fitness and personal training certifications. 

* Stacy mentioned that you ran the race in 2011. Did you also run in 2010? Did you hear about it through Grunt Girls?  I volunteered at the race in 2011, I ran it in 2010.  I heard about it through a friend in 2010 and after joining the Grunt Girl team I signed up to volunteer the next year. 

* The decision to wear the purple shirt: Was it difficult? Why did you wear it? Are you happy you did?  It was a difficult decision to wear the purple shirt; I chose to wear it because I felt that it was time to stop hiding from my past.  I had fought many years keeping this to myself (very little people are aware of my history) and in doing so I was unhappy and not facing these demons which would creep back into my life periodically through various negative outlets.  I am very happy that I did, I felt much empowered in “shattering my silence”.  I have learned to own my past, it is what made me into the person that I am today.  Wearing the purple shirt was empowering. 

* Any personal information you are willing to share about you as a survivor: age of occurrence, friend/family/acquaintance involved, when you first talked about it, etc.  I was first raped in High School, in August of 1999, right before I went away to college.  It was a date rape occurrence with someone I had just met.  I did not press charges because I desperately wanted to forget about it and start over away at college.  Reflecting back over the last 13 years I realize now that not addressing this issue created numerous other problems such as overeating, excessive drinking and smoking, low self-esteem, and a myriad of other insecurities and anxieties.  I was raped again in college, I did not tell anyone of this incident until recently, again thinking that I could just suck it up and deal with it.  Through my grade school and high school years I always encountered issues with fitting in and I didn’t want to give others more reasons to exclude me in functions or to be uncool.  I just wanted to forget about it and be normal.  Again, in trying to forget these horrible experiences the myriad of other issues continued to build up. 

I became involved in a couple of “bad relationships” in college and then again after I moved back to my hometown.  Shortly after moving back I began to see a personal trainer to help me lose the college/ self- abuse weight.  My trainer, Jake Barb, talked me into doing a triathlon and I said “sure, why not”.  In May of 2008 I completed my first 5k and in August of 2008 I completed my first triathlon.  I fell in the love with triathlon immediately.  The atmosphere was amazing. 

Unfortunately I began dating a very bad person shortly thereafter and this was the start of a very volatile relationship that lasted 3 years.  I stuck with my triathlon training; however I missed many sessions and was inconsistent.  This person was very manipulative, emotionally abusive, controlling, and in the end he became physically abusive.  I finally became fed up with the negative impact it was having on my love for triathlon and I said enough.  I cut myself off from this person and really focused on my training in 2010.  I became very involved in spinning and Psycle owners and instructors Jenn Sommers and Ed Meyer helped build my confidence and pushed me to my limits in my spinning classes.  Who knew that spinning could be so rewarding? I worked with Daniel Smith of the PR triathlon group and through this group I was able to participate in a swim clinic with Sheila Taormina (Olympic Swimmer) in Mexico of 2010 which really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I surrounded myself with other athletes towards the end of 2010 and did a lot of soul searching.  I started my blog, Blue’s UnBashful Blog and my new outlook on life via B.L.U.E. (Blue stands for Believe, Love, Understand, and Empower; I utilize these 4 things in life, racing, relationships, work, etc). I started this blog because I wanted to become vulnerable, test my limits physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally and I wanted to share my journey in hope of inspiring or motivating as many people possible.

 Shortly thereafter I met Liz Ferro, founder of Girls with Sole and I joined the Grunt Girl team and Cleveland Triathlon Club.   2011 was the most amazing year.  I achieved so many goals and met so many wonderful people who really enabled me and empowered me to believe in myself and I learned that I didn’t have to settle for anything.  Learning of Liz Ferro’s story (Finish Line Feeling) and developing a friendship with my hero really gave me the courage to stand up and speak out.  Getting to know the amazing women (and men) of Grunt Girl racing has changed my life.

* What advice would you give to other survivors?

Believe. Even when others don't believe in you, believe in yourself. Never give up hope, always believe that things happen for a reason and believe that anything is possible.

Love. Love yourself, respect yourself, and respect your body. Believe in Love. Love and appreciate everything.

Understand. Understand that bad things happen; we don't live in a Utopia. You will face hardships, you will go one on one with turmoil, pain, and suffering. You will have obstacles and challenges and they will all seem overwhelming at first and you will want to throw in the towel. Don't. Learn from your mistakes. Understand the beautiful experiences that create you and make you who you are, who you will be. Understand others. There are many different perspectives, learn from them. Understand the differences. Change. Evolve. Understand who you are and where you want to go and what you want to be. Visualize it. Make it happen. Understand that negativity produces negative results. Stay positive. Understand all that is changing and understand that you too will have to change. But.....never conform. No matter what happens don't go with the status quo just because everyone else is doing it. Understand that being brave and having courage will move you forward while everyone else is left behind.

Empower. Empower yourself by learning, by changing, by feeling, and by being true to yourself. Empower others. Pay it forward. Show others the above, be a role model, provide them with the tools to empower themselves, to believe, to love, to understand, and to empower themselves. Help others, make a difference, give back, help them BLUE (Believe Love Understand Empower).  

* What athletic activities are you involved in (trail running? biking? triathlons? marathons? etc.)  I’ve completed numerous triathlons, 5k’s, a half marathon, half Rev 3(half ironman distance tri) and I just finished my first full Marathon in May!

* What is the link, if any, between athletic endeavors and your experience as a survivor? How do you think fitness/sports can help?  The biggest link between my athletic endeavors and being a survivor is empowerment.  Fitness and sports helps immensely in so many ways.  It’s a healthy alternative to stress relief, it provides goal setting, feelings of accomplishments, confidence, self-esteem, and the community is incredibly supportive.  I wrote a blog just recently which explained the transition from victim to survivor and it’s much like Plato’s Cave.  I was stuck in Plato’s Cave and triathlon and the numerous people I met helped dragged me out of the cave and I am eternally thankful. 

* Anything you think is important that you think will promote the race!  The Shatter the Silence race is an empowering experience for survivors but it is also a fun, friendly, supportive environment for all runners.  The first time I ran Shatter the Silence I was a true beginner and I was self-conscious and extremely nervous to run on the trails but I know that it was worth stepping outside of my comfort zone because I had fun, I was inspired, and I met many new friends!  I encourage EVERYONE to come out and run with us, become empowered by breaking your silence or come out to have a good time on the beautiful trails with really happy people! 

I hope you are able to attend this race, support a great organization, and Shatter the Silence!

See you then!

Another article explaining why this race is so important


  1. Great interview. It is amazing you're willing to speak about this and give your support. I am also always in awe how you work, are the mayor and train!

  2. Thank you so much Julie :) xoxo