UFC star Paige VanZant has opened up about being the victim of a gang-rape in high school at the age of 14, and the subsequent bullying and abusive relationships she suffered in her new book, “Rise: Surviving the Fight of My Life.”
In the book, which released on Thursday 10th April, the 24-year old flyweight fighter goes into some detail about the horrific incident, describing how a group of boys got her drunk at a party and raped her when she could not defend herself. VanZant says the bullying she experienced after the rape was so bad that she ultimately changed her last name from Sletten to VanZant because the kids at school nicknamed her “Slutton.” She also wrote that once she came home and found condoms hung from the trees around her house “like Christmas ornaments.”
As a result, her family was forced to move from Oregon to Nevada to give her a fresh start.
“They move me around,” VanZant writes. They change my position. I fail each time I try to resist, my limbs like wet cement on my body, my brain a heavy fog. I am awake and conscious, but my body feels dead. I know what is happening but can do nothing to stop it. I have no voice or choice but to submit and pray that it ends soon.”
“I didn’t have anywhere to run to. I didn’t have anybody to turn to,” said VanZant, according to ESPN. “[It was] bad enough that I had to run into the bathroom, and I’d eat my lunch on the toilet … because I just felt too scared to eat lunch in the cafeteria.”
VanZant tells MMA Fighting that she decided to share her story to let others know they’re not alone, and to be an anti-bullying advocate.
“A huge reason I’m getting the book out is because I want to be an advocate for anti-bullying, I want to be an advocate,” said VanZant, who also wrote about an abusive relationship which led to her getting arrested for DUI. “That’s the main wave I want to start from this. The hardest thing for me was the bullies. That just really sunk me even lower, that no one was even there for me.”
According to MMA Fighting, VanZant is still healing from a broken arm she sustained during a fight with Jessica-Rose Clark at UFC St. Louis in January. The timetable for her return is still unknown but she has vowed to fight again before the end of the year.