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Breaking the Silence: A Survivor’s Journey from Domestic Violence to Empowerment

Content Warning: This blog article contains sensitive content discussing domestic violence and abuse. It may include descriptions of traumatic experiences that could be distressing or triggering to some readers. We understand the importance of creating a safe and supportive environment, and we encourage you to prioritise your well-being while engaging with this material. If you or someone you know is currently experiencing abuse, we urge you to seek help from local support services or helplines such as 1800 Respect 1800 737 732. Remember, you are not alone, and there is help available.

In the face of unimaginable adversity, Kristen emerged as a survivor and advocate for domestic violence. She candidly shares her personal journey of enduring and overcoming the trauma of an abusive relationship, shedding light on the pervasive issue that affects countless women. With the support of counselling, a life coach, and a loving husband, Kristen found solace and strength in the darkness. Determined to make a difference, she has embarked on a path of healing and self-discovery, ultimately channelling her experiences into a powerful tool for others: her book of positive affirmations ‘Reflection In The Mirror, You Are Enough’.

In this story, Kristen opens up about the profound impact that writing affirmations had on her healing process. Through the transformation of her mindset, she found relief from constant worry and a renewed sense of happiness. Kristen’s book not only empowered her but also inspired her to extend that transformation to others who may be struggling with their own mental well-being. Her resilience and determination serve as a beacon of hope for those who have experienced domestic violence, reinforcing the importance of speaking out and supporting one another on the path to healing and safety.

Kristen’s Story

When I started my first job, it was an exhilarating feeling. After completing my studies, I was eager to enter the workforce, earn a living, and gain independence. Although I initially applied for a job in a specific business and didn’t get it, they offered me a clerical role. It wasn’t my dream job, but I saw it as a potential stepping stone. So, I accepted the offer. During my time in the company, I had the pleasure of meeting various people, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It was during this period that I encountered my ex-husband. I had seen him in the office several times, and he struck me as a truly delightful person. Despite my initial inclination to avoid getting involved in workplace relationships, all my reservations vanished when I met him. We had several conversations and enjoyed our morning breaks together. Our connection was remarkable. He displayed kindness, care, and genuine interest in me, and we got along splendidly. I soon realised that our casual dates were turning into a serious relationship, and I felt overjoyed. After some time, we decided to move in together and see how our relationship would progress. As time went by, our love for each other grew, leading us to get engaged and eventually married. I was ecstatic, meeting who I thought was the love of my life, having a beautiful home, and being blessed with three lovely children. My life couldn’t have looked more perfect from the outside. However, amidst my happiness, I faced several health challenges. Following the birth of my first child, I suffered a severe hemorrhage, coming perilously close to losing my life due to substantial blood loss. Thankfully, both my daughter and I survived, but the experience was terrifying. After giving birth to my second child, I experienced a series of seizures and was subsequently diagnosed with epilepsy, requiring ongoing medication. During the birth of my third child, I was closely monitored due to my epilepsy. Fortunately, everything went well, and my son was born healthy.

I was content with my loving husband, seemingly perfect home, and three beautiful children. Many blissful years went by, encompassing everything I had ever dreamed of. However, things took a drastic turn. My husband transformed from the caring, kind, and loving person I had married into someone unrecognisable. He became controlling, and aggressive, and would explode with anger over the slightest issues, even when I had done nothing wrong. Confused and unsure, I pondered whether this was normal in marriages. I reluctantly complied with his demands and acquiesced to his every word, even when it went against my own beliefs. Over time, our marriage deteriorated further, with my husband becoming increasingly manipulative, controlling, and prone to anger. Soon enough, I realised I was trapped in a cycle of domestic violence.

As a stay-at-home mum, I initially viewed my role as wonderful, but it also meant my husband always knew my whereabouts and could contact me. He even provided me with a mobile phone with a number only one digit different from his, enabling constant monitoring. Naively, I failed to heed the warning signs that constantly flashed in my mind. I wish I had listened, but fear and his instructions prevented me from seeking help or disclosing the truth about our marriage. I slowly began to question the warning signs, sensing that something was amiss. Yet, I continued to comply with my husband’s demands, even when they felt wrong.

It wasn’t until I sought counselling that I learned I was a victim of emotional, sexual, financial, and physical abuse. I struggled to accept this reality, but acknowledged the truth. For five long years, I desperately tried to leave the marriage, but fear paralysed me. I didn’t know where to go, fearing for my life and considering my three young children. Hence, I remained trapped. Though I contemplated contacting the police. I felt powerless since I hadn’t suffered from physical violence at that point. Fear restrained me further. As the years passed, the abuse escalated, and physical violence became a regular occurrence. He dragged me by the wrist, threw me onto the bed, and once, his fist came millimetres from my face. To avoid his anger and further violence, I complied with his every demand. Moreover, his excessive drinking exacerbated the situation. At one point, an incident occurred that triggered something within me. That’s when I decided the marriage was over. He packed his bags and left the house, initiating the divorce process and sharing custody arrangements for our children.

Yet, the challenges persisted, and I felt like I was navigating a road through hell. I believed I had weathered the worst, only to encounter more hardships. I shared custody of my three children with my abusive ex for ten years, and every decision became an uphill battle. My ex treated me with disdain, frequently disappointing our children by failing to attend their events. As our children grew older, he gradually alienated them one by one. It was a heart-wrenching experience. My eldest daughter was the first to leave, followed by my son, and after some time, my other daughter also distanced herself from me. When my sixteen-year-old son left, it felt as if his departure had been orchestrated. His anger erupted suddenly, accompanied by insults and aggressive behaviour. Without saying goodbye, he packed a bag and had his sister pick him up. My three children were gone. Upon the dissolution of our marriage, my husband warned, “If you break this marriage up, you will pay.” Those words remained etched in my memory, and indeed, I paid a heavy price for the loss of my relationship with my children.

Having been a stay-at-home mum for an extended period, lacking recent skills, and devoid of confidence and self-esteem, I hit rock bottom and was emotionally shattered. However, I recognised the need to support myself financially and started working for Avon, a cosmetic business. I ran my own Avon business for nine years, which helped rebuild my confidence, self-esteem, and identity. I engaged with customers, marketed products, managed bookkeeping, and more. It proved beneficial, enabling me to interact with people, make money, and feel a renewed sense of purpose. During this time, I developed a hobby of making handmade cards by following YouTube tutorials. It provided an escape from the challenges of shared custody. It was during this period that I met my current husband, the most loving and kind-hearted person I’ve ever known. I am forever grateful for finding him. He supports me wholeheartedly in all my endeavours. When Avon ceased operations in Australia, I took a leap of faith and established my business, crafting handmade cards. A few years into this venture, I began writing affirmations, which transformed my mindset from negative to positive and significantly boosted my confidence. I am now in a much better place, thanks to the power of affirmations. In fact, I recently published my first book of affirmations, which has not only helped me immensely but has also affected countless others. My handmade cards and affirmations have become my life’s passion, and I adore every aspect of them.

Although I continue to pay the price of my children’s absence, with two of them having been absent for six years and a fractured relationship with the other living interstate, they are adults and make their own choices. Yet, it remains an ongoing struggle. Despite the hardships, I am incredibly proud of what I have accomplished with my handmade cards, affirmations, and book. I never could have imagined that I would transform from a shattered individual into someone who lives life on her terms, embracing countless amazing experiences.

Kristen’s journey has been difficult and she knows first-hand how hard it is to leave an abusive relationship. When I asked Kristen what advice she would have for someone in this situation she said: “I would say reach out to the people that support and love you, NOT the people who do not support and love you even if they are family, keep with supportive people. You do not need negative people around you. Seek help from a Life Coach, it is one of the best things you can do. If you have been through Domestic Violence with a narcissist, there are Life Coaches that specialise in narcissists and I highly recommend you get one that is specialised, they know, first-hand, how to deal with narcissists. Narcissists are people who are controlling, and manipulative, only care about themselves, don’t care who they walk over, lie always and people who have you second guessing yourself and have you apologising all the time, even when things were not your fault. This was who my ex was, he was a narcissist. I had both counselling and a Life Coach, they have both helped me to find ways to heal, particularly the Life Coach. I still chat with my Life Coach today 16 years later. Affirmations really helped my healing process too and to keep a positive mindset. There are many services that will help you, do not suffer alone. It is so important to have support, whether it be family or friends or both, you are going to need support. There is always hope and always remember to be true to yourself and to have your own opinions and enjoy your own life. Stay strong and be empowered, you are amazing”!

Kristen’s book has been accepted into five primary schools in Adelaide and one high school so far. Her book is part of an event in Adelaide helping teen girls struggling with body image, self-worth, anxiety and depression. She’s making a positive impact in her community and is a wonderful woman to have in ours.

Thank you Kristen for sharing your story!

If you want to support Kristen further or know someone who could benefit from Kristen’s book or her cards then please check out her Instagram and order directly through her.

 

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