Paige VanZant has met the ire of hardcore MMA fans for being pushed into superstardom extremely early in her career, but no one questions her heart in the cage. She’s been beaten, bloodied, and has fought back time and time again. Winning some, losing some, but always proving that she belongs. Now she’s using her fame to help others. In an emotional segment on Good Morning America, VanZant discusses her memoir: Rise: Surviving the Fight of My Life, and the revelation that she was raped at a party in high school. It’s something her parents didn’t even know until recently.
“I felt like I was a smart girl. My parents raised me well. They raised me to know better and to have some intuition, and it all went out the window just because I was so lonely, and I was in so much pain. All I could think about is like, ‘Wow, I have somebody that wants to be my friend.’
“When I walked in the door of their house, I was like, ‘This probably isn’t a good idea. It was right away. It was, ‘No, I probably shouldn’t be here.’”
The passage in her book describing that night is harrowing: “They move me around. 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.”
VanZant goes on to tell Good Morning America that mixed martial arts “saved her life,” which is a sentiment echoed by many in the fighting world. “MMA fighting definitely saved my life,” she said. “It saved who I was as a person, too.”