LAS CRUCES – On September 29th, Tim Markison set off on a 3,000-mile bike ride from San Diego to Jacksonville, Florida. The goal? To raise awareness of child sexual abuse and encourage abusers to stop the abuse.
Markison, 60, from Mesa, Arizona, survived sexual abuse. Today he is the founder and CEO of Athalonz, a golf shoe company, and a lawyer.
He said the abuse happened between ages 5 and 13, which solidifies the narrative that he was worthless and couldn’t do anything right. Fear and isolation were constants for those eight years and beyond, he said.
“My defense mechanism was to just forget, to distance yourself during the abuse and then to forget about it once the incident was over,” said Markison. “For the most part, I have very, very limited memories before I was 16 years old.”
Markison attended college – an option he had never considered before – and earned an electrical engineering degree there. Later, a dispute in the courts over outstanding medical bills in connection with his young daughter inspired him to do a law doctorate.
He and his family were fine until his eldest daughter Amy turned 5 – roughly the age at which his abuse began.
“I started to have flashbacks of what happened to me. And it really blew me away, ”said Marksion.
At that time he was working as a patent attorney, attended law school and had a wife and two young daughters. Markison said he started attending therapy and it was in those sessions that the memories of the abuse came to light. He said he started inpatient treatment for depression and PTSD.
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But slowly he began to process his trauma and feel better. In the next few years he was able to push his life forward and work through the topics. However, in 2015 the flashbacks returned.
“I woke up and was raped. So that was the feeling when I woke up and it was two in the morning and it hurt. It was violent, ”said Markison.
Journaling became his way of expressing his trauma rather than keeping it inside – shedding light on the darkness from which the perpetrators thrive. He turned to sharing his story via blogs, podcasts, and other methods, but these weren’t going quickly enough for him.
He decided to take 40 days to bike across the country from the west to the east coast to get his message across and raise funds. On the way, groups join him to drive the motorhome with supplies and ride a bike with him. The physical challenge also enabled him to mentally contemplate his story and write it down in book form.
Markison and two colleagues stopped in Las Cruces on October 13th and 11th. He plans to complete his ride in Florida on November 7th.
In New Mexico, child abuse rates are much higher compared to the national average, according to data from the Kids Count Data Center and New Mexico Voices For Children. In 2019, the national rate was 9 children per 1,000. New Mexico reported 17 children per 1,000. In 2018, the rate in Doña Ana county was 12 children per 1,000.
“It sounds so simple,” said Markison. “If we are to reduce the rate of child abuse, we need the people who will stop abusing.”
He said he hoped his story shows other survivors that they can feel good and live a full life.
“My best days are still ahead of me,” he said.
People can follow Markison’s ride online at www.cycletoendabuse.com and donate to help the cause.
Leah Romero is the trend reporter for Las Cruces Sun-News and can be reached on Twitter at 575-418-3442, [email protected] or @rromero_leah.