Melisa’s Story

Melisa Ruscsak is half Native American and half White, a speaker, an advocate, a survivor of domestic violence/sexual abuse, and a mother.

Melisa Ruscsak first disclosed the abuse she faced from a family member to her grandmother when she was sixteen. However, it wasn’t until later in her life, when she spoke at a RAINN event, that she felt that disclosing what she had survived was met with positive support.

“The first time [receiving a supportive reaction] was actually at a RAINN event. And afterwards, I had a wonderful experience, that a woman that I’d never seen [and have] never seen since, came up to me, hugged me, and said, ‘You just saved my life.’”

Melisa Ruscsak experienced and survived violence and abuse as a child as well as an adult. Throughout her life, she has experienced different forms and methods of healing. Melisa Ruscsak explained the different methods of healing she chose to explore, which ones worked and which ones didn’t.

“[When seeking professional mental help] I never received the help that I needed. I was always being talked down to, because I’m a ‘victim’. But I am not a victim - I’m a survivor. There’s a difference.”

While Melisa Ruscsak felt that professional help did not improve her healing, help from her family did. Melisa Ruscsak began training in martial arts from a very young age and she cites this training as something that, if anything, has saved her life.

“He [Melisa Ruscsak 's maternal grandfather] started me at age 6. He didn’t just take me to a martial artist, he started teaching me. So I had my then step-dad, my grandfather from my paternal side teaching me boxing, and my maternal grandfather teaching me martial arts. All three of them are strong men [and] are veterans. [They] said, ‘We don’t raise victims, we raise survivors.’”

When asked what she would say to others contemplating the decision to speak out about abuse, Melisa Ruscsak shared her thoughts on why it is important to speak out and why she has dedicated a majority of her life to speaking out against abuse.

“It’s a personal decision and I’m actually working with a group of women right now that are in that [space/moment of] ‘I’m here, I want to heal, I don’t know how to get there.’ It’s a personal decision that you have to make if you want to speak up and help someone. Because your story, regardless of what it is, we’ve all been there…but unless we speak up, we can’t help those who need to hear, ‘we are not alone.’”

Melisa Ruscsak states specifically that speaking up and speaking out against abuse has helped her the most in her healing journey. She shares that “If it wasn’t for me speaking up and putting myself on video, putting myself out there, I would still be a victim of my own mental traps. I would still be trapped by myself and abusing myself because I believed the words that were told to me, to keep me in that abusive relationship. Until you are ready to speak up and speak positively about yourself, you are still trapped within yourself.”

Melisa Ruscsak spoke about her work as a public speaker and as a licensed life coach. She highlighted her trips and speaking events that have taken place in Hong Kong, Germany, and a future trip to India where she will be speaking to a crowd of 20,000 people. Melisa Ruscsak highlighted the sole reason why she continues to do public speaking,

“I don’t care; as long as I reach the one person in the way back that’s having a hard time hearing me - that needs to hear the message. I speak for them.”

Melisa Ruscsak's shares a message to survivors of abuse.

“Leave the relationship, it doesn’t matter what kind of relationship it is. Leave it. There’s no material thing out there that is worth staying in that kind of relationship. Leave. You can start over.”

Melisa Ruscsak’s final message to everyone reading her story is one of personal empowerment and strength.

“You are not alone. I’ve been at rock bottom, I’ve started at rock bottom and I have built my company before I built myself. I used my company to build me because that’s how I needed to heal. Find your rock and go from there.”

Meet Melisa

5 words to describe her:

  • Tenacious
  • A Fighter
  • Survivor
  • Loud
  • Beautiful

To survivors considering disclosing:

“It's a personal decision...It's a personal decision that you have to make if you want to speak up and help someone...Unless we speak up we can't help those who need to hear "we are not alone.”

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