Strong - Inside and Out

Name: Sarah Strong

Current Status: Alumni

Graduation Year: 2011

Being ‘Strong’ is more than just a name for alumna Sarah Strong (BA ’11) – it’s who she is, inside and out. Sarah is a single mom with two children and a personal fitness trainer, specializing in pre/post-natal fitness. Strong has been a competitive powerlifter since 2014; she was deadlifting close to 300 pounds up until the week she gave birth to her healthy baby boy, Max.

Sarah is also a survivor of domestic violence. In July of 2017, she left an abusive relationship. Her husband physically assaulted her on three separate occasions. In the last incident, he threw her to the ground when she was five-months pregnant with their child.

While in the abusive relationship, staying healthy and lifting heavy helped keep Sarah sane. After leaving her abuser, she needed to take care of herself with a healthy physical outlet for her emotions. “When I felt helpless in the situation, weightlifting reminded me how strong I really was. My physical toughness translated into a mental toughness,” Sarah shares. “When I would go to court to testify against my abuser, I would try to channel that energy from a heavy deadlift and remember that I have – and I can --overcome difficult and challenging things.”

Shortly after leaving the abusive relationship, the pastor of Sarah’s church gave a message on Joseph and emphasized Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”

It was then that she felt God call her to help others in similar situations. She began volunteering with a non-profit and became more vocal sharing her own story.

Sarah now advocates for victims' rights and bringing awareness to the prevalence of domestic violence in our society. Her website, The Stronghold for Women, aims to empower DV victims and encourage them to get help. “I'm passionate about helping other women build their inner strength as well. I believe that fitness is a great tool, not just for strengthening your body, but for strengthening your character and mind.”

Along with her website, Sarah writes blogs for GirlsWhoPowerlift, a prominent source of information in the powerlifting community. Sarah says that her education in journalism from HIU equipped her with the skills needed to succeed in this field.

Sarah also trains victims of domestic violence, and says “It is great to watch how as their physical strength increases, their mental strength increases as well. It increases their confidence so they can not only heal from past trauma, but also learn to love themselves and be more aware of warning signs in future relationships.”

“Above fitness and everything else, I always remember that the Lord is my Stronghold, and He keeps me steady. I am blessed to have a career in fitness and to use the trials I have endured to motivate others. Perhaps God gave me this mountain to show others it can be moved. I believe that together, we can end DV and protect victims and give them the justice that is deserved.”

What is one thing you’d share with a women who is currently dealing with DV?

You should know that love is not supposed to hurt. I wholeheartedly believe that Christ would stand up for victims of abuse and want for them to be safe. You are not a failure if you leave an abusive relationship. It is also important to know that leaving is often the most dangerous time for a woman. You should have a plan, save money beforehand (if possible), gather all important documents, and enlist help of trustworthy friends, family, or your church.