Sarah Rice knows all about the odds of having to fight back. Sometimes it is not easy. Sometime it can be intimidating. On other occasions, fear is inflicted, so much so that the option of standing up for yourself can be an overwhelmingly nightmarish experience.
Welcome to Sarah’s world. Sarah, a member of Team Brooklyn on MTV’s “The Challenge: Battle of the Seasons,” has already run the gamut of emotions that comes with being sexually abused as a young girl.
It is not an easy battle to fight and overcome. Depression and the lack of self-worth enter in the picture, forever haunting lives that became parallel on the pathway to destruction, whether through alcohol and substance abuse or other means of oblivion. Sarah didn’t allow herself to be pigeon-holed into a box as a powerless victim.
She is a survivor. But then again watching an episode of “The Challenge: Battle of the Seasons,” one might come to the conclusion that Sarah is more than just a survivor. Sarah competes on the reality show as if she is a conqueror, mastering the physical and mental limits she is pushed to.
When you have someone like Sarah on your squad as Team Brooklyn does, fighting and competing the way she does-this competition is lightweight compared to what she has already gone through in her life. Sarah didn’t wither away and die. She chose to stand up and fight. She had to fight for her well-being.
Sarah now speaks regularly to young men and women about her life-altering experience through a nonprofit organization called “Pave,” which promotes awareness about sexual violence.
“That is a big part of what I do today,” Sarah said. “I speak at colleges and universities about overcoming the cycle of sexual violence and sexual abuse, going from a victim to a survivor, and really switching their attitudes into that survivor mentality. A lot of people always think that there is no way that she can always be that happy or be this nice….Things aren’t as bad as they used to be.
“There’s nothing to be sad about. You can take bad things that happened to you in your life and you really become a stronger person instead of broken pieces. That’s my strength. That’s what I share with people.”
Like any person who has gone through the trauma of sex abuse, Allen had to fight to keep her mental state in the right frame of mind. Her life depended on it. She wanted to recapture who Sarah was. Just going through her third “Challenge,” in many ways, speaks to exactly the kind of person Sarah is: she is a fighter.
To get through the terrible ordeal she went through, Sarah leaned on family and friends to help overcome years of emotional wounds.
“It took a long time,” Sarah said. It took years. It took a really strong support system, and it took people telling me, ‘It was okay.’
“I had never seen somebody on TV who had come out and talked about this. I had never known anybody my own age talk about it. It was all kind of distinguished, so hush-hush so that I should be ashamed of that until I was able to talk about it and say, ‘Yeah this happened to me.’ It took me years to forgive the people that had done that to me and to move on and kind of let things go. ”
During the first two “Challenge,” reality shows, Sarah got a dose of both humility and self-confidence. This time around, Sarah wants to do more than learn a lesson or two: she wants to win the $350,000-winning cash prize. The captain of her high school water polo team, Sarah picked up a solid understanding how to compete at a high level.
“I was always really competitive. I loved to compete. I loved to really push myself,” Sarah said. “I really believe that if you believe it then you can make it happen. I’m always going go into everything saying that I can do it. I think that I can tell myself that I can do it then I always perform better.
“If I go into elimination saying that I’m going to lose, because that is the attitude that you’re going in here with. I always go into everything, going, “I’m going to give it one hundred percent, and in my head, I ‘m going to win. If I don’t, I don’t.”
Where she won’t be defeated in is losing the war to self-doubt and apathy. The scars of the sexual abuse she endured won’t let her lose this battle.
“You go through every emotion, really,” Sarah said. “You feel angry. You feel alone. You feel scared. You feel everything…I think everybody out there knows somebody who has been affected by this kind of violence in some ways. I think we need to change our attitude towards the victims. That is something the victim can do. That is something that we, as friends, have to do.”