KILLEEN -- Size should never suggest strength — especially in the case of Andrea Calhoun.
"I am 27 years old, and no, this is not what I even imagined doing at all,” she said.
At 4-foot-11, Andrea is a trainer at Gold’s Gym in Killeen and one of the most competitive bodybuilders in the country. But what originally led her to the gym is a story few people know.
"I didn't start to be able to fully talk about it until last year," Andrea said.
An ex-boyfriend showed up to her apartment one afternoon in 2009.
"At the time I didn't feel threatened. But then he started pushing himself on me, asking me who am I having sex with, stuff like that, and then he pulled out a gun," Andrea said. "I stopped screaming because of the marks and the stuff. I was scared he was going to kill me, because the gun was loaded. He actually pulled the bullet out and showed me it was loaded - and did whatever he had to do."
Andrea used makeup to conceal the bruises.
In Texas, rape is on the rise. In 2014, the Texas Department of Public Safety reports 11,466 cases. Last year, 742 more cases pushed the statistic to 12,208.
October is domestic violence awareness month, and allegations of sexual assaults have even headlined the presidential campaign over the last few weeks.
But rape — whether committed by a stranger or an acquaintance — is different from other violent crimes, experts explain. Many victims, like Andrea, are hesitant to report it either out of embarrassment or a desire not to recount it in court.
By hoping to avoid stigma, the real figure is thought to be much higher.
"I wish I would have said something," Andrea said, expressing regret for not reporting her attack. "I was scared. I didn't tell my mom. I didn't tell my sister. I didn't want to be judged, I guess. I'm really big on pride. I didn't want people to feel sorry for me, but at the end of the day, I didn't realize how much it really affected me."
Andrea gained 60 pounds. That’s what led her to the gym. Exercise became an outlet.
For five years, Andrea said, she suffered through two more abusive relationships. Her psychiatrist helped her cope and suggested she should stop settling in relationships.
"I don't want to settle again or I may be stuck in the same situation, so I've been taking time to heal from my rape and my abusive relationships,” she said.
Andrea is single now, journals about her past, and is pursuing law school. She’s at the top of her game, physically, and still improving her strength emotionally.
"It doesn't define you. You can still do whatever you want to do,” she said. “December 5th, I'm taking my LSATs.”
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