JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Back in the late 90s and early 2000s, Ana Bolt-Turrall was a professional classical dancer in South Florida who though she had married the man of her dreams.
“But somewhere along the lines, things changed for me," she said.
Bolt-Turrall’s dream of a perfect marriage turned into a nightmare when she said her husband began to beat her.
She said the physical and mental abuse lasted nearly five years, and on one occasion, she thought her life was going to end. On another occasion, she said she suffered an injury to her back that could have permanently left her paralyzed.
“I was told by this individual that I would never dance again," Bolt-Turrall said.
Dancing is her passion, so she said the threat of never dancing again gave her the courage to seek help from her family, close friends, and law enforcement. But even after she left and divorced her husband, she said she was still mentally broken from years of abuse.
“And I knew I had to overcome that with exercise," Bolt-Turrall said. "Something that also brought life to me was Pilates. So, dance and Pilates are what I found at the end of the tunnel.”
Now, she’s a dance and Pilates instructor, and she said her life is much more peaceful here in Jacksonville with her second husband.
Bolt-Turrall said one of her goals is to begin helping other women and even men who have been abused by a domestic partner.
“And I want to help women as I was able to help myself through these methods of movement because movement heals," she said.
At some point, Bolt-Turrall said, she would like to start the Bolt Movement and Theatre Project in Jacksonville, which would be a program aimed at using dance to heal people who have been mentally scarred by abuse.
“When someone lays a hand on you the first time and they tell you, oh I didn’t mean to. It was a joke. No it isn’t. You need to understand it is not right. It’s wrong," she said.
Bolt-Turrall has a website where people can sign up for private or small group exercise sessions. There are in-person and online options.
One of the locations she teaches Pilates is Lets Do Pilates, located in Ortega Village. She said it is a safe and secure place for anyone who wants to talk to her about abuse or want to try dancing or Pilates as a way to mentally heal.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
If you or someone you know is or has been a victim of domestic violence or abuse, there are resources available:
- The Florida Domestic Violence Hotline, which will direct you to the nearest shelter, is 1-800-500-1119
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline is open 24 hours a day. The number is 1-800-799-SAFE
- The Micah’s Place (Nassau County) Domestic Violence Help Hotline is 904-225-9979
- The Hubbard House in Jacksonville can be reached by dialing 904-354-3114
- The hotline number of Quigley House in Clay County is 904-284-0340
- The Betty Griffin Center in St. Johns County can be reached at 904-824-1555