• Katie Marie Strong

"Finding Strength in Despair"

By Crystal McLean

When you know that if you stay with him, he will kill you or you will kill yourself, that is when you know things have gone way too far. You need to find whatever bit of strength you have left to leave. For good this time. 

There were plenty of red flags right from the beginning of our relationship. However, once you get stuck in that cycle of abuse it is very hard to get out of. I found myself accepting these red flags, lying to myself and everyone around me, making this my new normal. I completely lost myself. 

The mental and emotional abuse started early in the relationship and just a few months later, physical abuse started. The physical abuse started with slapping, pushing and dragging me around. Then, the day came when I had got 3 "beatings" in one morning...

He was drunk and mad - I knew right when he walked through the door it was going to be bad. So, I went outside and walked towards a field. When I turned around he was running towards me. I thought he was chasing after me and going to apologize for his behaviour, but I was wrong. He threw me down in the snow. After every kick to the head, chest and back, every punch to the face, every time he threw me down, I started to feel more weak and more numb. I stopped fighting back. I wanted to die. I stopped yelling for him to stop, I stopped trying to crawl away. I just laid in the snow hoping it would be over soon. He walked away leaving me in the snow but soon came back to beat me some more. He picked me up by my hair and made me walk towards the house. He kept walking towards the house and I managed to get into my vehicle. Instantly he was right outside the passenger door, punching the window. I unlocked the door because I didn’t want him smashing the window. That is when my 3rd beating of the morning began. I eventually got away with the help of a very close friend at the time. Days later, I had returned to him for the next 16 months.

The abuse definitely did not stop. 

I vividly remember the morning I decided to leave. I woke up and saw my moms face appear in my closet with her eyes full of tears. I knew right then I was going to get my kids, my dog and myself out of there that day. He and I had been arguing all day. Nothing unusual for our household. The moment he took off on the quad, that is when I packed what I could into the van. I drove to pick up my daughter from daycare, then my son from school and drove us to my parents house, in Regina. I had left everything I ever owned, everything I worked so hard for to buy. I just left it. Thankfully, I have the most amazing and supportive family and friends that helped us get back on our feet.

The years spent with him absolutely ripped apart my family. They saw the bruises. They knew all the lies I had been telling them. They saw and felt my pain but could not do anything for me because I wouldn’t let them. The amount of tears my mom cried for me hurts my heart, a lot. I am sorry everyday for the pain that I caused my family. However, we are closer now than we have ever been. 

Years ago I didn’t want to live anymore. I didn’t like myself and I felt like a failure. I felt weak, depressed and worthless. Fast forward to today and I love myself. I love my life and I am stronger than I have ever been. Yes I have my bad days. Some days are worse than others but I have a hell of a lot more good days than bad now. 

For the people that are in abusive relationships, I believe if I can learn to truly love myself, then anybody can. Leaving is one of the hardest things you will do in your life but you got this. You can do it! Be strong, do not let others bring you down. You are capable, you are worthy and you are beautiful. Find that love and happiness that is inside of you and spread that shit everywhere!

Life is too damn short not to.

*** Please note, the photos below are graphic. They were provided by Crystal herself to help break the real life awkwardness around the things happening right next to us. Be prepared and please, be kind. <3- Katie Marie, xo.

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