A local dancer survived decades of domestic abuse and has dedicated her life to her passion while helping other survivors around the world heal, too.
Deb Lysholm has spent the last 15 years sharing her story of how she went from victim to victorious after fleeing a 23-year physically abusive marriage. Now through dance, through her new book, and after making history she is an inspiration in Minnesota and around the entire world.
"Every time I throw on my tap shoes it's like, I survived, I survived and it's very cathartic," Lysholm said.
Lysholm may very well have changed the way our legal system handles domestic violence. The professional dancer is the first woman in the country to file a civil domestic violence suit in 1993.
"It seemed that the judge wanted me to just forget it and go home and quit obsessing about it is one of the things I was told, and to just go with it and just get on with my life, and I told him I have to do this to get on with my life," she said.
Her spirit of fortitude got her through to a settlement, three years later.
"There was really no financial gain for me. What I did gain was a major healing process for me and my daughter," she said. "After the trial I sold everything, my house, all my belongings and bought this piece of land."
From the ruble of her old life, Lysholm began to build the life of her dreams, creating Heartbeat Studios – a journey that began through sacrifice.
"Slept on the sofa in the lobby, dorm refrigerator and a microwave and a laundromat down the street," she said
That lifestyle lasted three years, but led her to Heartbeat, a place where people of all ages come by the hundreds to learn and dance every year.
Lysholm has even blazed an international trail with sister studios in Milan, Barcelona and Tokyo.
"It's surreal, it really is, and many times when I wake up in the morning, you know I drive here and I'm like, wow that's my place, I built that," she said.
However, it's the release of her book, "Dancing to My Heartbeat," which she considers among her greatest feats.
In the book, she exposes in detail how she survived and clears up the misconceptions and answers questions that held her in silence.
"What did you do to deserve it, that's the question I got a lot or the one that makes my hair stand on end is, ‘Why didn't you just leave?' That assigns blame right back to the victim," she said.
Dedicated to empowering those living in abuse, Lysholm hopes anyone walking in her old shoes remembers this:
"There is life after this. You're worthwhile, you're worth something," she said. "It's okay to ask for help."
Her book can be found at Barnes and Noble, on Amazon.com and at Heartbeat Studios in Apple Valley.