UFC fighter Paige VanZant is opening up for the first time about being gang-raped in high school in her new book “Rise: Surviving the Fight of My Life.”
The 24-year-old told MMA Fighting she decided to “be very transparent” with her fans in order to help other victims of sexual assault and bullying.
“It got to the point where it was like, you know, it’s time for me to share it,” VanZant shared. “If I was gonna say anything and be open about it, the best way to do it is to write it down in a book and let people read it. So it doesn’t necessarily have to come out of my mouth, but people get to hear my story.”
The UFC star described in graphic detail how she was influenced to drink by a few boys at her school, who she said later raped her.
“They move me around,” VanZant wrote in her book according to MMA Fighting. “They change my position. I fail each time I try to resist, my limbs like wet cement on my body, my brain a heavy fog. I am awake and conscious, but my body feels dead. I know what is happening but can do nothing to stop it. I have no voice or choice but to submit and pray that it ends soon.”
VanZant, who did not reveal if her alleged rapists were charged, said she was subject to bullying at the hands of her classmates after rumors spread that she had consensual sex with them.
The fighter, who was born Paige Sletten, said her classmates called her “Paige Slutton.”
“A huge reason I’m getting the book out is because I want to be an advocate for anti-bullying, I want to be an advocate,” said VanZant, who also wrote about an abusive relationship that led to her getting arrested for DUI.
“That’s the main wave I want to start from this. The hardest thing for me was the bullies. That just really sunk me even lower, that no one was even there for me,” she said.
VanZant said she used a ghostwriter to help her put the horrifying ordeal into words.
“Just so I got to say it one time — I said exactly what I wanted to say to a person, they wrote it down and then I never had to look at it again,” VanZant said. “So, it was me voicing everything that happened and I just got it out in the open and I never had to look at it again. It was one of those things where I tell the story and move on.”