The body suspension community is a collection of such wonderfully unique people spread all over the world, and it has amazed me to see the growth that has happened over the last several years. Some of us love each other beyond words or comparison, and some of us may never even cross paths outside of the online world. At times it feels like the community is growing so quickly that it’s overwhelming, and at times, especially times of tragedy, we realize just how small it really is.

On February 12th, when Trisha Nelson lost her life at the hands of her fiance, we were all reminded once again that our community is still small enough for the loss of one life to send a ripple around the world. There are numerous articles out that explain the events of her death, as well as the death of her attacker, and I don’t feel those details need to be revisited yet again. A person’s death should never be what lives on as the thought in people’s mind when they hear their name.

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Alexa Nelson (no relation) took a moment to discuss who Trisha was and their time together in the suspension community. The two came to know each other through connections on bodymod.org and Facebook. They had an instant connection, and quickly grew to become best friends. Trisha had already been involved in suspension for a few years before the two met, and she helped Alexa take her first steps into body suspension when she finally decided to try it herself. Alexa said that what made her decide to try it was watching her friend suspend.

“She made it look like the most magical thing in the world. Her face lit up and her smile illuminated the room. I knew I had to try it.”

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The two were thrilled to meet so many of the people in our community at MECCA in Council Bluffs, which was the first suscon for either to attend. Alexa said that she will cherish their time there together, which was a rare moment to have Trisha away from her abusive fiance. The two talked of the future, of her leaving the horrible situation she was in, of traveling to Dallas for their next suscon together. They made friends, they learned, and they suspended alongside one another in a spinning beam. At 28 years old, Trisha found a moment of happiness away from everything she was facing back home thanks to her best friend and a group of amazing strangers in Iowa who opened their arms to her.

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In times of death, it seems that everyone has only good things to say about someone who has passed away, regardless of how they might have felt about the person in life. In the case of Trisha, it’s well earned praise and love, and there are an abundance of comments from those who met her to prove it. For those like me, who didn’t have the pleasure of knowing Trisha, I would like to take a moment to look at who this amazing woman was.

She was a woman that worked 60-80 hours per week, but still took time to volunteer online to help girls dealing with life issues like body image, as well as volunteering in person at Resource for Iguana Care and Adoption, a local reptile rescue. She loved her iguanas and her cats dearly. She was the type of person threatening to shave her mohawk off if her best friend lost her hair during chemo, and meant it completely. In a world of people who are often too busy for genuine friendship, she was a person selflessly creating time she didn’t have to be there for the people in her life. She was a suspendee in our community. She was a future practitioner that would have made suspension better for being involved in it because she actually cared for those around her. At 28 years old, she was a young woman who had a lifetime of things that were meant to be done ahead of her still.

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Being a victim of domestic violence and abuse doesn’t mean you are weak; it doesn’t mean you are covered in bruises and cowering in a corner; and it doesn’t mean you are in any way less of an amazing person. Often, it’s because the victim loves very deeply, and wants nothing more than to make the person they love better somehow. Trisha was the victim of a long term abusive relationship. It was all the signs that people tend to turn their head to because it isn’t a black eye or a busted lip. He controlled her day to day life; from how she dressed and ate to checking her messages to even controlling how she was to address him in public. He did this with threats to harm himself, to harm her, or to harm her pets that she loved. A lot of people have a hard time understanding how someone doesn’t just walk away, but the reality of it is so much more complex. Abusers are typically masters of time; time to let things get better just long enough before they push it a little further and a little further. Generally, people are so far in the relationship by the time they consider needing to be free of it, that it isn’t as simple as a phone call and a breakup.

From Alexa to anyone who might be dealing with domestic violence: “To someone who is going through a similar situation I would say don’t let other people tell you what to do. Ultimately it is your choice if you leave or stay. If you decide to leave, there is help out there. If you decide to stay, there is also help. You can create a safety plan with a close friend or relative. Have an emergency bag of belongings if you need to leave right away. Keep a burner phone with you. Create a safe space where you can barricade yourself and call for help on your burner phone if need be. If you are ready to leave go to http://www.thehotline.org or call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). If you have pets and no one to take them to, the humane society offers boarding for domestic abuse situations, it is called pets in peril.”

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Carrying on Trisha’s generosity and caring for those around her, her family and Alexa will be gifting her Dallas Suscon admission to a member of the suspension community in her memory. From everyone here at suspension.org and the Dallas Suscon, our thoughts and hearts are with all of you.

The love and support from the community has been incredible, with almost $10,000 being raised to help Trisha’s family. If you would like to make a donation in her name, please take a moment to visit the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women or Resource for Iguana Care and Adoption.