British Columbia·Video

She's beating back traumatic memories with devotion to a hard-core sport

Boxing can be brutal, but Amanda Murray is using it to escape the ghosts of her past.

Watch 'The Blue Rose,' a CBC film about an Indigenous woman who's overcoming childhood abuse through boxing

Amanda Murray is literally fighting for a better life — using mixed martial arts to keep the ghosts of her past as a physical and sexual abuse survivor at bay 5:05

Boxing can be a brutal sport, but  Amanda Murray says it's helping her escape the ghosts of her past.

The 33-year-old describes herself as being "born with a broken heart" because she was physically and sexually abused as a child.

A new CBC Creator Network short film called The Blue Rose tells Murray's story of overcoming childhood trauma using a gruelling training program.  

Past trauma

Her father walked out when Murray was a young child and her mother, who is Ojibway, suffered mental health issues.

"She's a wonderful women, very smart and a good mother, but she was schizophrenic and suffered from alcohol addiction and using drugs," Murray said.

"Sometimes, she was a very dangerous woman."

Murray suffered violent beatings and sexual abuse by the men in her mother's life. She bounced between more than a dozen foster homes and ended up living on the streets in her late teens.  

Amanda Murray says her feelings about her mother are complicated, but that it's important her mom knows she loves her unconditionally. (The Blue Rose/Creator Network)

Being a role model

She eventually moved to British Columbia, where she had a pivotal encounter with her then boyfriend's 12-year-old daughter who was sexually assaulted  — and wanted to commit suicide.

"It hit me really hard because I grew up experiencing sexual assault and violence," Murray said.

"As a parent figure, I was angry and I was hurt and I thought 'What could I have done to prevent this?' "

That's when she took up martial arts in the hopes of being a better role model.

Amanda Murray started fighting, got her gun licence and her motorcycle licence as ways of being more empowered and a better role model. (The Blue Rose/Creator Network)

"I got her involved in boxing and ended up joining also," Murray said.

"At the end of the class, I ended up crying because it was such an emotional release for me."

Murray signed up for more classes, later taking up mixed martial arts training and a healthier lifestyle.

"I was trying to empower myself as much as I can by acquiring skills and becoming this bad ass woman," Murray said.

"I want her to see that and I want her to know that she can do anything. She's strong."

The film's title, The Blue Rose, represents a gentler side of Murray's path forward.

"I remember the first time that I saw a The Blue Rose was maybe six years ago," she said. "Blue is the colour of healing."

With files from The Early Edition