March 18, 2021

Healing From Emotional Abuse: Wrestling Speaking Out: with BCP and Chelsea Durden

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Can you heal from abuse?  What do I do after leaving my narcissist? What does a healthy relationship look like? These concerns cross the minds of over 20 people every minute; over 28,800 people every day.  And the sad fact is, we still don’t talk about it enough.  Healing from Emotional Abuse isn’t a bandaid situation.  But it doesn’t have to take years either. The lives of millions of other survivors around the worlds have been impacted by their narcissist.  Yours doesn’t have to.  To show you how to live a free, confident and peaceful life, your host and Founder of the Healing From Emotional Abuse Philosophy, Marissa F. Cohen.

 

Rob: All right, ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to a very special BCP / Healing From Emotional Abuse tag-team connection episode. First, before we get to our featured guest at this time, please welcome back, the ultimate tag partner Amazon award-winning multiple time bestseller my good friend Miss Marissa F. Cohen. Marissa, What's up over there? How you doing?

 

Marissa: Hey, everything's good in Chicago, we've got a heat wave. But other than that, we're fine.

 

Rob: Hey, you know, could be worse these days, you know, you count your blessings every day. But again, thank you for three minutes, your time and the platform and I'm super excited to welcome to this show. We're talking about the speaking out movement right now and having these very honest and open discussions, which I think is just the first step in moving forward and creating this Wrestling World. This indie Wrestling World that I love so much, and making it a much better place. So, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the show at this time. She is pro Wrestling's necessary evil. The goth Power Ranger herself. Miss Chelsea Durden. Chelsea thanks for a few minutes. How are you?

 

Chelsea: Hi, Thank you for having me on. All right down here heat wave is more like our way of life in Florida.

 

Marissa: Sorry.

 

Chelsea: What's going on?

 

Rob: Good. Florida's a good place to be in you know, in the in the wrestling business, for sure. Real quick. You know, tell us a little bit about your background, kind of like that origin story getting into the business. Did a meteor hit the Earth? And then you became a professional wrestler? How did that all start for you?

 

Chelsea: Well, some people will tell you that I've crawled out of the depths of hell. But the reality is, you know, just like every other pro-wrestler, ever. I started watching Wrestling when I was like five or six years old. I'm trying to take after my brother, as much as I could. And I just grew up, always wanting to do it. And when I was 22, which was six years ago, I just took the plunge and started my pro wrestling journey. And now I  got a little more back problems and neck problems than the average 28-year-old. But boy, what a ride it's been. Even discounting all the negative, it's been such a crazy, crazy ride.

 

Rob: Yeah, absolutely. And you touched on it. And obviously, you know, we'll get into the very serious talk really soon. But obviously, you know, anyone who's following you on Twitter, I saw you, you know, being able to open up and speak out. What was kind of like your first thought when you saw this trending on social media? Was it a bummer? Were you happy? Were its mixed emotions? What were your immediate gut reactions to seeing the speaking out movement trending on Twitter?

 

Chelsea: It was definitely mixed emotions. Because on the one hand, I was glad that people were getting their stories out. And they were, you know, taking a stand against what has always been a very real problem in wrestling. But at the same time, it just hurt so much to see that there were so many other women like me, who had gone through very similar circumstances to me. And, then I go back to the other side of the emotions where, you know, I'm glad they're not alone with their pain anymore. And back to I'm really sad that there's so many of us that it had to create a movement. And I knew, once I saw it on Twitter, and I saw people I knew who were coming out with their own stories. A friend of mine texted me. And he said, I know that you were looking for a sign of when the time would be right to talk about what happened. And if you're still waiting for a sign, I think this is it.

 

Marissa: That's awesome.

 

Rob: Wow. And I was just going to say and Marissa you know, obviously, this is something you can totally relate to, but kind of getting over that hump. You know, you had the friend reach out to you, Chelsea. What kind of made you finally just pull that trigger and really sit down and type out those multiple tweets.

 

Chelsea: It's kind of funny. A couple weeks prior, I had sat down in my living room and constructed that over the course of a few hours. I'm just thinking, you know, I just had to get it out of my head and onto paper or document. And just thinking maybe it would just be a cathartic release for myself. I had like no plans of when I was going to release it. When I was, you know, if I was going to post it publicly or at all, if that was just going to be like a personal thing for me. And because I've been holding on to it for a year and a half at that point, or longer, if you consider how long I was in the situation, I didn't tell anybody about it. And it was like the hammer dropped when the speaking out movement started gaining some traction. So I went to my parents’ house After work, I think it was a Friday. And they knew a little bit of what I had went through, but not all of it. Not some of the heavier parts. And I wanted them to hear it from me before they saw it on the internet. And that experience broke my heart, just seeing my parents completely broken. And then I went home and I revised everything. It took a while and I posted it about maybe 4:30 in the morning, and I went to bed.

 

Rob: Wow.

 

Marissa: Wow. Well, that was really brave for you to post that and truly, extremely brave for you to tell your parents. I mean, I know so many people, including myself, who didn't tell their parents because of fear of the reaction that we'd have from them. So that's really admirable of you to have done.

 

Chelsea: I mean, they're, they're such wonderful people. My parents are my best friends. They're my biggest fans, they come to all the local shows of mine, that they can. You know, they take pictures and video. They buy my shirts. Like they won't let me give them shirts, they buy my shirts. And my dad sends pictures and videos of me wrestling to his friends and his co-workers. I'm so close with them. And that's why I broke my heart so much to tell them but I couldn’t, as much as I wanted to protect them from feeling like they couldn't protect me, they're my mom and dad and I had to I had to tell them if I was going to tell the world then I had to tell them, too.

 

Rob: Absolutely. And for those listening I mean, you know if you haven't read what Chelsea has tweeted out in her speaking out moment, Chelsea, could you give us like kind of just like a short and sweet kind of recap of, I believe it was your trainer, doing terrible, terrible things to you.

 

Chelsea: Yeah, it was my first wrestling trainer, Pablo Marquez in Fort Lauderdale. I started there with him. It was at the time, the only, you know, wrestling school in the area. And I started training with him in July 2014. And then August 2014, is when he assaulted me for the first time. And you know, it's I always knew why women don't report things like that, and what happens to victims with you know, freezing up and, and keeping it a secret and feeling ashamed. And, you know, all of that, like I got it on a surface level. But I didn't really, truly understand why until I actually went through it myself. You know, I had thought of myself as a strong person before. That I would never just take that quietly and I would I would fight back, and I would go to the top and I wouldn't hide it and let it get worse. But I did. And I didn't really understand why that happens until I went through it myself. And part of me felt almost kind of like I deserved it because I had a lot of friends involved in independent wrestling before I actually started wrestling myself. And several of them have warned me, you know, Pablo is really inappropriate with his female students, just don't find yourself alone with him. And you know, be careful if you're if you're going to go there. And I brushed it off as you know, indie wrestling drama, or, “Oh, maybe they're bitter because they don't get booked,” or something stupid like that. But then they were all right. Everybody who warned me everybody who told me to be careful.

 

Rob: It's crazy. I think I remember an instance in that tweet, you know, I personally have such a strong connection with the indie wrestling scene and I work with some really great promoters. Now I'm not going to name drop and shameless promo that's for later. But I will say, it's been so positive to me, I've had such a positive experience with the indie wrestling scene. And to hear these stories, you know, and I see all these, this very young group of talent coming up that are going to go very, very far. I get very, very worried. And we always talk about you know, the good brothers, the good sisters. This family; the respect in the ring. You know, there was that instance, I believe in your tweet where it said there where you came out, you were obviously like bruised and beaten. And one of your, I guess, friends or someone you worked with in the ring kind of saw that something was messed up and you like assured them that everything was fine. I mean, I can understand like, why you know, felt the need to do that. Do you feel like the this is the wrestling community’s issue, to kind of step up now and really kind of take the initiative to look out for each other?

 

Chelsea: It's time now more than ever. There's a lot of good brothers and sisters in independent wrestling and higher-level wrestling. I've been so fortunate to come across so many wonderful, wonderful genuine people who just want to give back to wrestling, and love wrestling, and love teaching, and guiding, and helping. But there are so many who are still stuck in the old ways. Because in a lot of ways, and it's moving away from that now but up until very recently, like the last few years wrestling was really like the outlaw sport. You could have who knows what on your record and still find your place and in wrestling. And you know, lots of shady characters, people with pasts that nobody knew about or did and just kind of brushed it off because maybe they were a great wrestler. That attitude towards that that old school you know, brothers protecting brothers mentality is changing for the better. And it's time now, more than ever, for people to stand up as higher-level a community and protect the people who are coming after us and the people who are just starting to get into the wrestling business. They shouldn't have to go through things like this. There's a lot of old grizzled veterans who want to punish the newer generation, just like they were punished. But it doesn't have to be that way. And that's an old, stupid mindset. Why would you want people to suffer the way you suffered? I certainly don't. I'm saying this at the ripe old age of six seasoned years in wrestling. It's not fair for people to have to go through this, if we have the power to change it. There was no social media in 1995. But now there is and we can take care of people and we can warn people and you know, clean up wrestling for the better.

 

Rob: How do you? How do you know I'm sorry, and Marissa perhaps you could actually like relate to this? Like you always say, speak your truth. Break your silence. Like how did that feel Chelsea to, you know, say the names and you know, tell the story and possibly protect a lot of these up and comers. Was that part of the healing for you?

 

Chelsea: It was incredibly cathartic to finally say something about it, because I felt like I'd been carrying this really, really heavy backpack for so long, that was just getting heavier and heavier. And it was getting worse. I wasn't sleeping. I wasn't eating. I was just going through the motions in other aspects of my life. And my friends noticed, my parents were worried, because it was just driving me insane sitting in my head like that. And actually getting it out there, and having people know, instead of just, you know, running into them in different locker rooms, — and then seeing that something's not quite right but they can't really put their finger on it. And not now knowing everything I've gone through. It was such a freeing feeling.

 

Marissa: I can't even imagine what it felt like carrying that around. And then even to make it worse, you're involved in this community that it's really big, but it feels so small. And so, I imagine everybody knows everybody. So, the fear of speaking out… Like, I can't even begin to imagine what that was like.

 

Chelsea: Oh, yeah, it really is such a small community. You know, there are 1000s of indie wrestlers all over who have never heard of each other. But the community is really a lot smaller than people might believe. Everybody knows everybody, especially in Florida. It's such an insular community. And every promotion knows who runs every other promotion, and who's in it, and everybody's secrets, and I knew it would spread really fast. And that was, you know, part of that fear, even for me. I started training at another wrestling school, not terribly far away, and I’m still driving through Fort Lauderdale every day, praying I wouldn't see anybody on the highway on my way down.

 

Rob: Wow. And Chelsea, I wanted to ask you this and I actually screenshot of this and retweeted this a little while ago, and maybe I'll put the screenshot on my Facebook as well. It was a quote you put. You put, “When you work for outed abusers, you're showing all your friends, they can't trust you.” Tell us a little bit your mindset there. I took a lot from that personally.

 

Chelsea: Well, that came from, you know, people I've known for a lot of years now I saw were still working for his promotion and training at his school and other people I knew training with and working for other outlet abusers. And I felt like, so by working for that person, someone who's been outed as having done something so heinous, you're really demonstrating that the things that they've done really aren't a problem for you. And, you know, stepping back and saying, “Oh, well, he never did anything to me, or he's always been, he's always been cool with me.” It's kind of trying to like shrug that responsibility off you have as a person to other to other people. And it felt to me, like you're showing everybody that you know, $40 or $60 bucks or maybe even $100 is more important. More important to you than, you know, sleeping at night.

 

Rob: Yeah, I think you hit that one right on it on the Marissa I'll throw it back to you.

 

Marissa: Well, we had a conversation with another wrestler, and I apologize that I forget who it was, who said something similar, like, well, this person has been accused of rape or sexual assault, and they're still being booked. And promoters were responding with and booking agents were responding with, well, what do you want me to do not book them? Yeah, that's exactly what you shouldn't be doing. And for people to continue to train under this person and work for this person for Pablo. You know, you shouldn't be doing that. Because you're still putting food on his table. You're still allowing him to continue to offend people. And you're pretty much you know, nodding your head at him and saying, like you said, "What you did to these people, how you hurt Chelsea and probably countless other women who trained under him, that's all okay because I never experienced that.” I know I'm pretty much just mirroring what you said. But like, it's just so powerful the way you said it.

 

Chelsea: It's the fact of the matter. It's like I know for a fact other people that he's hurt. And you know, I haven't come out with it or named them or anything because that's not my story to tell it's theirs if they ever choose to tell it. And it just kind of seems, it's I don't know, you really, you find out who your friends are really, really quickly, when you become somewhat of a social pariah in the community. I never wanted this to be like the champion of movement and you know, like holding a flag. It's like I told my mom a really long time ago, probably back in 2014, when I was just telling her different things about indie wrestling, and how things are run. And she would say she was flabbergasted and she'd be like, well, that that doesn't sound right. Or that sounds awful, you should say something about that. You should do something about that. You should speak up about that. And I told her that you could either be a successful wrestler, or you could be the one who suffers in pursuit of, changing the world, or changing your world. And I didn't want to suffer. I just wanted to be a successful professional wrestler. But I realized a couple months ago that I have a responsibility to everyone else, to make sure that this stops happening. Even if one girl who Google's pro wrestling school, South Florida doesn't click on that link, and decides to go somewhere else instead, then that's what I've wanted. That's what I want to do. I don't want anybody to go through what I went through ever again; I don't want anybody. I don't want him to be able to hurt anyone again, and I don't want anybody else to have the room to operate in the shadows and hurt people either.

 

Marissa: I can completely relate to what you're saying. I mean, not in the Wrestling World. But when I started talking about my story, it was way before #MeToo. And it was way before all of this and it really made a lot of people uncomfortable around me. And people stopped wanting to talk to me or be friends with me because I became like you said a social pariah. I was like, the person who, like the “man-hater.” Meanwhile, I had more male friends and female friends, but that's neither here nor there. So, thank you for taking on that role, Even though you kind of have to choose between mental health and success. That's not a fair place to be in. When you started speaking out and went public about this a month ago. Did you did you face backlash? Did you get people breaking their silence to you? What happened in your community?

 

Chelsea: Well, I did face backlash, not right away. At first, I was just completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of support. People I had never met and never heard of, were messaging me to tell me their stories. And you know, unload things that had happened to them. And that was really heavy to like, read through, but I was glad that they did it. They don't have to be alone with you know, just suffering inside their head. And I was, you know, people who I hadn't spoken to in years were messaging me and telling me they were behind me and they're proud of me and they love me. And I couldn't believe that. I expected the backlash that did eventually come in the form of everybody in Pablo’s camp double down on backing him.

 

Rob: Yikes.

 

Chelsea: It's like this weird worshipful thing that you know, it's something that I noticed when I was there. At Coastal Championship Wrestling. I noticed that Pablo didn't really like when his students would go to work for other independent promotions. Not even the in the area like not that they were to like his local competition or anything. But he didn't really he didn't really like that he would talk a big game. How he wanted his students to you know, grow and travel and, and work different places and gain experience, but he didn't really like it and he would give a lot of them a hard time. He would only really be okay with people working different shows if he went with them. And it took me a while to realize, but it finally dawned on me that he didn't want his students to see the way things were at other wrestling schools and other independent promotions. Where their younger guys weren't expected to pay their coaches phone bill, or pick them up because he didn't have a car, or like pay for their own opponents.

 

Marissa: Those unprofessional.

 

Chelsea: Those were things, those were things that were happening. And when people see that the grass is, in fact, greener on any other side, they want to leave, and he wants to prevent that. So, his people are very isolated from the rest of the wrestling community and he likes it that way. Because he doesn't want them to see that when they, when they screw up a drill that they don't have to get, kicked out of the ring, or shoved or smacked across the face, or any number of things that I've personally witnessed happen to people, other than me.

Rob: I was just going to say it just you saying all that, like. I mean, obviously, so many things you said, it's like hits a nerve with me, because, you know, I love this business so much, especially the Indies and you know, people I call friends in Indies, whether they're, you know, up and coming stars, or, you know, trying to make a name for themselves, or some of these great promoters. Because it's all about working together, you want to see people succeed. I love it, when in your organizations, we have a lot of great places here in New Jersey that I work with. And there's also one or two really bad places that are finally getting outed and stuff like that. But that's not what it's about. So, to hear all those things like, you know, you think you'd want your students to succeed. I know trainers that are just such amazing, inspiring people. They want to see their students succeed. They want to inspire them. So, my question for you is, you know, I love professional wrestling so much, the Indies specifically. Does this take the shine off for you? I mean, I see you got some great matches coming up. I see a tag team with Red Velvet. That's some super exciting little shameless promo there. But does that take the shine off for you?

 

Chelsea: It could have and it should have. But I, for me, personally, and I know it's not always the case with other people who have gone through similar, and I absolutely don't blame them for not wanting to be involved anymore, or just wanting to move on with their life. But for me, I felt like he had already taken so much from me that I could not let him take wrestling from me. Because he wasn't wrestling. He wasn't the embodiment of wrestling. He's not the end all be all of wrestling. He's such a small microscopic part of it. And I couldn't let him take away what I was born to do.

 

Marissa: Fuck Yes, fuck, yes. That got me fired up. Now I want to start wrestling.

 

Rob: I love it.

 

Chelsea: Make sure you have a good chiropractor on file.

 

Marissa: Duly noted.

 

Rob: I love it. So as Marissa always says, you are definitely a champion in more ways than one. For sure. I do want to thank you for a few minutes of your time and opening up. We really do appreciate it and I'm sure a lot of other people appreciate it as well. But I did want to ask you this or last question for me. Advice you would have for some of these young up and comers. You know, we talk about these terrible things that happen behind the scenes or in training and specific places. We talk about those airport pickups for some of the you know, big talent, we talked about maybe having separate locker rooms, like any advice to some of this up-and-coming next generation talent.

 

Chelsea: I would tell them you know, first of all, find a reputable wrestling school. Google is your friend, and you know. Don't just go to their website or their Facebook page, you know. Vet it as thoroughly as you can. If you have a friend that's in indie wrestling, certainly ask them for their recommendations and, you know, figure out whether you're going to have a good group of people there or not. But also, if something feels off to you, or it feels wrong, it probably is. And don't let anyone convince you that that's just the wrestling business or that's just indie wrestling, because chances are if it's not okay in other professions or other sports — you know, the way somebody's being treated, or the way maybe your trainer treats women, or maybe they take advantage of younger students being naive — It's probably not right. And I would encourage them not to not to stay quiet about it.

 

Rob: Absolutely, anything else from Marissa before we get out of here?

 

Marissa: I don't have any other questions. But I really want to commend you on speaking out and breaking your silence, and supporting so many other women and champions in wrestling, who have been affected by sexual assault, sexual harassment, Rape, emotional Abuse, narcissism, abuse. I just think that what you're doing is more powerful than I can describe in words, you know, you are truly making a difference. And I am so grateful. And I'm sure hundreds of women and men who have been affected by abuse and assault are also extremely, extremely grateful for your openness and your honesty and for putting the people who deserve to be put in their place, in their place. And Don't let anyone stop you from doing the things that you love to do. So, thank you so much for being here today. We totally appreciate you.

 

Chelsea: Absolutely. Thank you for having me and giving me the space to ramble.

 

Rob: Alright, I'm clapping for you over here. Before we get out of here though, the most important part. No, no, not in this case the most important part. But we are about that shameless promo and I did love those T-shirts. Tell us a little bit where people can follow you on social media and get some of those great T shirts AT Pro Wrestling tees all that good stuff.

 

Chelsea: Oh, well. I have a pro wrestling tees store. ProWrestlingTees.com/ChelseaDurden. I got a couple of shirts up there. You know, I like to say ever I have a wrestling podcast myself called Demon Road Diaries. Yeah, we always plug our socials at the end of it. And I always like to say, head to prowrestlingtees.com/ChelseaDurden. If you're interested in helping me put my cats through college. It's not cheap. Sorry. I'm just kidding. No, I really am. There's a kitten in my lap right now. Oh, and I'm on Twitter and littered and says I'm on Instagram at Darden says and pretty soon, I have a T shirt coming out. That's going to be direct sales that I'm going to be taking pre orders for that 100% of the proceeds are going to be donated to a local domestic violence shelter here where I live. So the art is getting finalized on that. And I'll be posting that up soon probably in the next week or so.

 

Marissa: Can you make sure to send me the link to that when you're done? Thank you.

 

Rob: Awesome. Hey, Chelsea, thank you so much again for opening up for a few minutes your time. You know, stay safe in this crazy 2020. And continued success moving forward.

 

Chelsea: Absolutely. Thank you, guys.

 

Rob: All right, guys, as always say here on the BCP. Stay safe, stay positive, take care of each other. We're out peace.

 

 

If you enjoyed this podcast, you have to check out www.MarissaFayeCohen.com/Private-Coaching. Marissa would love to develop a made-for-you healing plan to heal from emotional abuse. She does all the work, and you just show up. Stop feeling stuck, alone, and hurt, and live a free, confident, and peaceful life.  Don’t forget to subscribe to the Healing From Emotional Abuse podcast, and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/marissafcohen, and instagram @Marissa.Faye.Cohen. We’d love to see you there!

 

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