CHESAPEAKE, Va. - Neisha Himes is a survivor. She managed to live through physical domestic abuse, escaping repeated assaults from a former boyfriend.
But she has not let that trauma define her. Instead, she put on a pair of boxing gloves and learned to fight.
"Boxing has been very instrumental in my journey as a survivor," she said.
What started as a way to defend herself has become a two-pronged passion: Boxing and helping others.
“I just remember what it's like... I was in a place where I didn’t know how I was going to get out; I didn’t know that there was help; I didn’t know how to get resources; I didn’t even know my worth.”
So, she started the GROW Foundation to help survivors know their worth and feel empowered.
“The third Saturday of every month, we’ll have men, women survivors 18 and up from all different walks of life. They can get a therapeutic session and a group workout and boxing training immediately after," Neisha explained.
Shannon Brown has been Neisha’s boxing coach for five years and has watched her mentor other abuse victims with life-changing results.
“Pride, joy, strength - I see all that in them, and it's like, 'Wow, I can really do this,'” Shannon said.
He works with Neisha’s foundation to teach survivors the skills to defend themselves and how to mix it up in the ring.
“I have two daughters, and I never want them to be in that position, so that’s what drives me," he said.
We featured a story about Neisha last week, and we told her we were going to do a follow-up about her foundation. She had no idea we were going to give her a People Taking Action award.
And more - our community partner, Southern Bank, also surprised her with a $300 Visa gift card.
”I’m speechless, so thank you," Neisha said. ”It’s my mission to help as many people - men, women, children - come out of this situation.”
And she does it with the compassion and empathy of a survivor who has the strength and courage to lead the way.
“Neisha is so caring, she’d give you the shirt off her back if she needed to.”
“For me, it's about saving lives. I always say whether it's one or a thousand if I can play my part.”
Her next GROW session to help domestic abuse victims is April 17 at MatchBout Boxing gym in Chesapeake. Click here for more information.
To nominate someone for a People Taking Action Award, click here.