In mid-August, Invicta FC’s burgeoning young fighter Bec Hyatt made a confession through Fighters Against Child Abuse Australia about domestic abuse that had been ongoing in her own house. She detailed her life with fellow fighter and boyfriend Dan Hyatt, who had become increasingly demeaning and violent towards her in a short time.
Having met Dan already with a child from a previous relationship -- her boy Zake -- Hyatt wrote that the situation with her new boyfriend grew uncomfortable when arguments would erupt over Zake and Zake’s father. Things went from uncomfortable to intolerable when she found out that she was pregnant with Dan’s child just three months into the relationship.
"Another month passed and I fell pregnant," she wrote. "Dan was happy and so was I, but now I see why Dan was happy. He had his power now. He owned me because no way would I leave him to be a single mum of two. He would remind me of that and tell me that no one would want me. He would tell me that I have ‘two kids to two different dads’ and I ‘should be thankful that he wants me.’ He would say that I’m ‘used and abused’ and that I was ‘damaged goods.’"
The verbal antagonism then turned to physical abuse, which she recounts in unsettling detail in the post. "The abuse would get more extreme," she wrote. "He would kick me, pin me down and elbow me, grind his elbow down my face and choke me unconscious."
That picture is obviously very grim, and took a lot of courage to come out publicly with.
So, what prompted her to do so?
"The founder of Fighters Against Child Abuse Australia, Adam Washborn, actually contacted me because he saw some passing comments and he obviously put two and two together," Hyatt told MMA Fighting. "He contacted me, and I told him the truth, and he said it would helpful so many people if I came out with my story.
"It also added a little bit of closure for me, because a lot of people were throwing rumors around saying that I’d left [Dan] for another person. Or that he’d left me. Lots of different rumors going around, so I felt like the truth needed to be known, and if it helped other people out there, then good. Adam assured me that everything would be okay and that I wouldn’t regret doing it and it would offer closure. So I’m glad that I went ahead with it."
Hyatt and her sons (Zake and Enson) have since left Dan, and now more than a thousand miles separate them in her native Australia. She lives in Queensland, and he lives in Tasmania. Four months removed from that abusive situation, she says she’s focused on training and recovering from a torn MCL that she suffered prior to her last fight in Invicta against Mizuki Inoue.
For a relative unknown before signing with Invicta, she has made a splash with the Kansas City-based promotion. Why not? She is a well-spoken, charismatic fighter with a swoosh of blonde hair and cheetah-skin pattern sleeve on her arm. She has natural magnetism, which in the fight game goes a long way.
It doesn’t hurt that she puts on exciting fights. Even though she’s gone just 1-2 since coming over to the States -- including a loss to Carla Esparza for the inaugural strawweight title -- she been a big reason for Invicta’s uptick in visibility. For a young fighter who lives on a far-off continent, it’s been a dream come true.
"I love going over there," she says. "Invicta treats their athletes like they’re one of their family members. I get royal treatment when I go over there. Knowing that they genuinely care about you, that’s the feeling I love about Invicta - they honestly care about you and how you’re going. Obviously, they want you to put on a good fight so they make sure that they can possibly do for you, they do."
That feeling of support helped her to overcome her trouble. Since sharing her story of domestic abuse, Hyatt says the outpouring from friends, family and fans has been heartening.
"Initially I was quite embarrassed and I didn’t want to tell anyone or anything," she says. "I was really worried about leaking the story and didn’t know what kind of feedback I’d get from it. But yeah, it’s definitely a huge weight lifted off. I was so good at hiding it for so long. It was lies after lies and just covering it up, so it felt nice not to have to hide it anything anymore. Everyone knew it was out there for everyone to see and I didn’t have to cover it up or make excuses for something.
"When the story came out, though, I received a lot of messages and comments just saying how proud they are for me just to speak the truth and how brave and everything I was."
Here she giggles shyly.
"I still don’t feel I’ve done anything special. It’s just the way life took me, and it was just another challenge for me to get through."
Not that the challenge is over. Though a safe distance lies between where Hyatt was and where she is, both physically and mentally, she says that Dan continues to try and plague her in new ways.
"A lot of my social media -- my YouTube channel, my web site -- was hacked by him," she says. "That’s his way of still getting to me, still trying to hurt me. But that’s it. He hasn’t personally contacted me other than to talk about Enson, or anything like that. But yeah, that’s his way. He’s not saying it’s him. But it’s him. You know it’s him, because it’s been turned into a big rant.
"But I know I’m safe now. I know the kids are safe. He can attack me on social media, he can say or threaten or whatever, and it’s not going to bother me at all because I know we’re in a safe place now and he can say whatever he wants."