Sports have become a release for childhood sex abuse survivor Christian Griffith, and now the 47-year-old wants to use the outlet to help other victims.
Griffith is running 3,000 miles across the country beginning Monday as part of “Run2Heal” campaign in hopes of raising $1 million for victims of childhood sexual abuse, in partnership with Help for Children, a global nonprofit charity.
He’ll run 30 miles a day, five days a week, for five months.
“This is the unknown,” Griffith said. “I’ve run 50-mile races, I’ve run 100-mile races, but those end in as long as two days. I’m going to suffer physically, mentally, emotionally.”
His run, which he has already mapped out, will begin in New York City's Riverside Park during a public 5K race. He will eventually touch every state, concluding his run in San Francisco. He’ll sleep in an RV in between runs.
Despite the grueling feat, Griffith believes it’s all worth it. He wants others to get the treatment that he has been afforded and hopes the money raised will also work towards prevention.
The 47-year-old has been in therapy for a year-and-a-half and says it has truly helped him.
“Therapy saved me and I couldn’t imagine life without it. I most likely will be in therapy for the rest of my life,” Griffith said.
The sexual abuse for Griffith began in his early teens. He said he was abused consistently by a relative initially and later experienced sexual abuse at the hands of men throughout his teens.
He struggled deeply as a result and the effects seeped into every area of his life.
“When we don’t want to people to know things about us, we create coping mechanisms to deal with them,” Griffith said. “When it happened, I spent 30-plus years crafting a story around who I was, this fake persona."
Running helps Griffith release pent-up emotions. He says the run will benefit him and others at the same time. He also hopes to raise awareness for sexual abuse against boys as it is less talked about.
“There are a lot of boys out there who have experienced sexual abuse and there are a lot of men with that boy inside of them and I want to be a voice for that entire collective,” Griffith said. “I would like to prevent other people from having to spend 30 years in broken relationships, dysfunctional behavior, embarrassing, shameful ways of being and all of that eating you up inside."
No matter how much of a struggle the run is, Griffith said he’s not going to give up.
"Nothing is going to stop me, and if I can’t run, I’ll walk and if I can’t walk, I’ll crawl and if I can’t crawl, then I’ll slither, but I will not stop," Griffith said.