Today I have a very, very special story. Gina DeRoos has been a huge part of our Venus family for the last few years. She stepped in as a student for quite some time, is now a coach and instructor and her life’s story has completely evolved.
A metamorphosis if you will, Gina’s tale is one of courage, inspiration and true bravery. She attributes her evolvement to the inner strength that she’s achieved through her experiences at Venus. Here is here story for you.
“My name is Gina DeRoos and I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. This is something that happened to me, but it does not define who I am. Over the years I have learned to be open and share my story, because I feel that I have a responsibility to those who are living in silence. There is a life after sexual abuse, and you can be whole again. You can survive and thrive.
I didn’t always see myself as a survivor. I actually spent most of my life living and acting like a victim. At that time, I honestly didn’t know what else to do or how else to live. Those years were spent defined by my abuse, and they were some of the most painful years of my life. It took time, but I eventually found my way, and an amazing therapist that specialized in childhood sexual abuse. That woman was my angel. She helped me work through some of my deepest and darkest memories. It took courage, and it was hard, but I did the work and the healing process began.
After a year of working with her I started to transform from victim to survivor. That was nine years ago.
The word survivor became my rock, my strength, and my mantra. It was everything to me, because I worked so hard to get there. I clung to that word for years, and then I got stuck. I started to feel like that’s all I was doing—surviving.
What I suddenly came to realize is that surviving was not enough. I wanted to do more than survive, I wanted to thrive.
Getting to the point of recognizing myself as a survivor was an incredible and necessary journey, but something was missing. I wanted to love my full self and live a full life, and I realized that I wasn’t quite there yet.
What remained was something I had been reluctant to deal with my entire life. I had an extremely negative image of my body. Poor body image is common for sexual abuse survivors, and it goes far beyond a feeling of wanting to look a certain way. These were issues rooted in trauma that resonated within my soul, and within the little girl locked deep away inside myself. I had been sexually objectified as a child and I couldn’t stand my body because of it.
When I looked in the mirror all I could see was a wounded child trapped in a women’s body. A child that never gained a normal understanding of her body except that it was sexually degraded and disrespected in the most horrible way imaginable. A child that saw her adult body as damaged and stained with someone else’s sin.
When I stared at my body in the mirror, there was a deep realization that not only did I hate my body, I hated myself.
Everything was starting to collapse. Even with all the therapy, spiritual awakening and the love and support of my husband, I found myself unable to face that little girl staring back at me in the mirror. I had to find a way to connect with her, to make her whole again, to help her love her full self and own her body. This was the last obstacle to not just enduring my life, but to stepping fully into my power and thriving.
When I was a little girl I loved to dance. I could honestly say that I wanted to be a ballerina when I grew up. I distinctly remember that dream dying after the abuse. I couldn’t feel the music anymore. I couldn’t feel anything. Something was different. I was different. My body was different, and everyone and everything else was exactly the same. I think this recognition broke my heart more than anything else. The one thing I loved and lived for was gone.
I was determined. I had to help this little girl inside myself. I had to help her feel good about her body again. I began to understand that the key to loving my full self was to love all of me, and that included my body. Instead of suppressing those feelings through food and other self-destructive patterns I needed to embrace them.
It was time to let go and listen to my child within.
So I did, and she wanted to dance, and move, and feel free—and that scared me. But I had to try. To be whole, to be more than a survivor, to thrive–I had to try.
And then I found Venus Pole Fitness.
When I walked into my first Pole 101 class I immediately recognized that there were mirrors everywhere. It was definitely an “oh shit” moment. An endless reflection of me watching myself and critiquing my every move—I was a nervous wreck. As class began something inside of me started to remember. Stretching my legs, pointing my toes, holding my arms ever so gracefully—these moves were familiar to me and I felt a connection.
I was easing into the moment and starting to relax, and then came the sexy part of the class.
As part of my negative body image issues I was unable to see myself as sexy. Having always felt objectified, it was hard to envision myself this way. I was clearly still holding on to the abuse through my body, which meant that I did not own my body, and that made me angry.
Why couldn’t I hold this space?
It made me uncomfortable to stare myself down and do hip circles and body waves at the same time, but I pushed through. I laughed at myself a lot that first month—it was completely normal to do that. But little did I know that through my laughter and uncomfortable moments, I was learning. I was slowly learning how to love myself and own my body again.
I was starting to open up and become fearless. The reflection in the mirror changed from a scared little girl to a fierce and sexy woman. I was growing and glowing and holding my space with confidence. I no longer felt ashamed of being sexy–I felt powerful for it. This was my body and I had the right to feel sexy in it. This was me loving all of me and owning every bit of it. I wasn’t just surviving anymore–I was full on thriving.
It was a revelation that through pole dancing I had healed my wounded inner child, changed my poor body image, and learned to love myself and own my body again.
I started at Venus Pole Fitness in October of 2012, and on February 21, 2013 I sent this private email to Diane Flores.
“I have to tell you that you and your studio have really changed my life. I know that everyone has a story and Venus Pole Fitness has completed a long chapter of my life. I have truly found the “Fearlessness” that I have been looking for at VPF. I don’t know if you ever seen the tattoo that I have on my back that is written in Tibetan, but it says Courage, Hope, Freedom, Fearlessness. Well, the fearlessness is the thing that I have been missing all my life. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and I have endured many years of sadness, anger and hopelessness.
About 6 years ago I decided that I could not live that way any more and I decided to find a therapist that dealt specifically with my type of trauma. After a year with her and treatment for PTSD I found my Courage and my Hope. When I began to practice Reiki and learn about energy healing I was finally able to let go of the pain of my past, and I found my Freedom. But I still had so much fear until I found you. This was it. It was the last thing I had to overcome to be complete.
I was not ready to be sexy or look sexy or feel sexy, but now I do. My light shines because of you and your mission to help women just like me overcome all the little things that control our lives. I have to say that my husband thanks you too! I am a whole new woman and now I have my Fearlessness and I’m not turning back!”
Yes, I kept this email. I wanted to be able to remind myself of how far I had come. I wanted to remember the moment when I could stand in my mirror and say “I Love You” not only to me, but to the little girl inside of me. She pushed, and I was reluctant, but she saved us both. In the end I will always be a survivor, and I am proud of that. But now I am a thriving and unapologetically sexy woman.
I was so committed to the mission and the space that Venus held for other women that I am now an instructor there. I carry this mission in my heart when I work with other women, because I can wholeheartedly connect to the fear of loving yourself fully, and owning your body. We all deserve to live a full life that is not overshadowed by fear and poor body image.
Step into your power, let go of your fear, It’s time to thrive.
Love & Blessings
Ready to take hold of your life and feel alive in your skin again?
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