This brave woman bared her heart and soul in this interview. This week we’re talking about mental health, community, self- awareness and SURVIVAL.
An Oakland transplant, Kahtharine grew up in British Columbia, Canada. This gladiator has had to fight for survival all her life. She was exposed to some of the cruel realities of the world and system we live in at a young age. Growing up in various group homes, feeling passed around by the system she was homeless at times room/board were unavailable. Giving up was never an option. Despite what cards had been dealt to her thus far, she struggled to keep her head above dark waters.
Khatharine found a sense of family at the age of 13 within the punk community…
“We’re all punks for a reason. We find unity in the music and acceptance in each other. I started booking shows in church halls, basements, whatever was available. “Fuck Lilith Fair” (Canada) was my first fest…it was all female punk and metal bands. The title speaks for itself, I suppose. Haha”
Despite this new found community she was struggling with PTSD, life crippling anxiety and righteous anger toward the world and some of the people who had helped shape it up to that point. Alcohol became a means of coping at an early age.
Let’s be as honest: Alcohol is something many of us struggle with. The majority of people out there aren’t straight edge. Many are, but the drunk outweigh the sober. Some people can enjoy a few beers or a couple drinks and know when to stop. Many of us struggle with knowing when the line is being crossed; when *one more shot* or *just one more beer* is the one that sends you over the edge. You blackout and forget what you did, forget what you said. It’s all too easy to create a cycle of waking up in the morning with that distinct feeling of dread, wondering if you have anything to apologize for and wondering how the hell you got home.
“What so many people fail to realize is that when you aren’t given any type of blueprint, or solid foundation to build from as a child, you are left to finding your own means of surviving and coping with the world around you. Boozer is cheap, easily accessible at any age if you know the right people and drinking certainly isn’t frowned upon at shows. I’ve struggled with alcohol for the last 15 years and am proud to say that I’ve been sober for two months now. I used to think A.A. was a bit of a cult, but it has helped me tremendously in ways I would’ve never imagined. I realized at the root of everything it was fear that kept me from going sooner. Fear and anger have been driving me all these years, eating me alive. I had been fighting myself all these years. Removing alcohol from my life has helped me engage again. I’m getting closer to myself and the world around me every day. It’s pretty magical, I gotta say. I’ve never been happier. Meditation, going back to school and having academic ambitions as well as physical activities like karate, jui jitsu, muay thai, ect. All provided the outlets I needed to see clearly again. To take the beer goggles off once and for all”
With her self made armor she continues to fight, and is reaching out to her community hoping to help other women find their voice, their strength and their independence. Khatharine started an online check-in group for women on Facebook called “Check-it”.
“I felt it was important to have a consistent, online resource for women to help look out for each other. When you have a full time work/school schedule, there can be days or weeks at a time where people don’t hear from you and think nothing of it because they know you’re busy. But what if one night you don’t make it home; friends and family may feel no need for concern until it’s too late. Certainly wouldn’t be through any fault of their own but I wanted to start something that might prevent help from coming too late when needed.”
Khatharine also started a local bi-monthly meet-up called “Shield Maidens”. Self-defense classes are provided on a sliding scale basis and free to anyone who cannot pay. “Shield Maidens” classes are for women and trans who want to learn how to defend themselves. The classes are provided in a safe, comfortable, private environment with no other people around. The instructor: Kewesi Simon specializes in Muay Thai. Being quite large in stature, he helps build the confidence it takes to take down someone twice your size if need ever be. More classes will come with more sign-ups, so let’s help spread the word! Another group geared toward female only self-defense classes as well as instructors is “Girl Army” right here in Oakland. Check’em out!
To say that this courageous woman has been through hell and back is putting it lightly. She’s struggled with some very real demons and has found her own light. She strives to help other woman find that light within themselves, sharing her story and being proactive in her community. Khatharine is fighting to provide resources that might otherwise be unavailable. Her next goal is to bring an extension of the “Homeless youth Alliance” to Oakland. The “Homeless youth Alliance” is currently located in San Francisco. Started by friends 7 years ago, they are ALWAYS looking for volunteers and resources to provide food, safety and medical help to homeless youth in San Francisco.
Everyone has a story to share and I was honored to hear hers. This tough lady hasn’t been given anything in life easy. She doesn’t feel sorry for herself or dwell on the past. Instead she and has created her own foundation built on self-respect, honesty and love for self. I admire her willingness to discuss the kind of heavy life shit that make most uncomfortable, or feel ashamed. Not many people have the strength to build monuments from ashes. Khatharine does and she tells it like it is, NO APOLOGIES!!!
SHIELD MAIDENS Location: KES Fitness at 2600 West St., Oakland.
Click here for Shield Maidens’ FB Link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/705759529439052/
Homeless Youth Alliance in SF: www.homelessyouthalliance.org/