For a day and age where it’s almost an unspoken norm to always find a way to pin the blame on the victim, getting away from the reality of abuse and violence is a tough call. Even worse, there’s an unprofessed stigma around it – no one says it out loud, but there’s a subtle air of judgment toward people who have been through remarkable pain. However, despite all the wrongful rationalization, for every case of abuse and violence, only one person is at fault no matter the situation – the perpetrator.

For Markie Williams, an American athlete, real estate broker, bikini model, and human rights advocate, this truth about wrongful stigmatization is not being sounded loudly enough. A survivor of domestic violence and human trafficking herself, Markie understands, first-hand, what people go through at the hands of their abusers, and it’s not always a clear-cut route to escaping. Based in Seattle, Washington, Markie recently launched the Project Markie podcast, a safe place and comfort circle where survivors of abuse and violence can share their stories and draw strength from others with no fear of judgment. Markie’s podcast is aimed at giving her listeners a steady stream of positive energy to pursue meaningful and purposeful lives while working at long-lasting recovery.

“It is never your fault. No matter how it looks, it is never your fault.”

Born in Lawrence, Kansas, Markie is the second oldest of 9 children and the only daughter to her parents. Growing up, she recalls her parents being strict and often emotionally distant. Following a music degree stint and her dance studies in Pittsburgh and Spain, she finished her B.A. in music performance at the University Of Akron, Ohio, in 2011. Markie was then supposed to head to Spain to complete her studies in dance with the aid of a Fulbright Grant, but the grant didn’t come through.

Markie then moved to Seattle where she got a daunting job and was distracted from her dance aspirations. She also tried her luck with online dating and in 2012, she met a con artist whose true intentions she hadn’t known at the time. He moved in with her later and took advantage of her goodwill to settle his debts with her personal funds. Although Markie didn’t realize it at the time, her boyfriend was emotionally and verbally abusing her.

Markie said in an interview: “The abuse was all-encompassing, I mean physical, mental, emotional, sexual, and financial – every form of abuse you can imagine, and it was every day and that was my life, 24/7, there was very little escape.”

When the physical violence started, Markie began to fear for her life. Her boyfriend threatened and badly injured her, isolated her from friends and family, and there was no respite from all the suffering. Under the guise of a masseuse offering erotic services, Markie was pimped out to different men and had no control over the abuse happening in her life. She was unable to escape her situation without putting herself in grave danger, as her boyfriend frequently threatened her with more abuse and even death if she attempted to leave.

Three years down the line, in 2015, her story took a turn for the better when she secretly began to meet with a domestic violence advocate at the Seattle YWCA.

Markie said, “It was the worst and darkest time of my life. No one knew what I was going through and I was afraid that if I tried to get help, no one would believe me. Only one domestic violence legal advocate made a difference when she fought for me and encouraged me to fight for myself.”

She received aid from the Seattle YWCA and the WA Crime Victims Compensation program, which helped Markie get into a safe place and receive counseling until she found her footing again and took her life by the reins.

Rising from the stigma and pain of her past, Markie has built several successful careers for herself as a real estate broker and property manager in the Seattle area, a bodybuilder, a versatile model, a creative/performing artist, and now the host of the Project Markie Podcast. On her show, Markie gets on the mic and holds intimate and compelling conversations with survivors of sexual abuse, human trafficking, and domestic violence. People get to give first-hand accounts of the injustice they were made to face, knowing that they are within a community that would never invalidate their suffering. Guests and listeners alike get to thrive in the spirit of a supportive community, where there’s hope for a better, safer, and more productive future.

Markie is an advocate for humanity and spends a lot of her time working with charities that support survivors of abuse and violence.