My experience with domestic violence started in high school when I lost my best friend to murder. Her
ex-boyfriend had been physically abusive for a while then tragically shot and killed her in her sleep. I
swore from that experience… no one would ever treat me that way. I just wouldn’t stand for it.
Fast forward to 2005 when I met my ex-husband. There were early warning signs of what was to come.
Verbal and emotional abuse started very early on. We weren’t even married yet and it was a very
common occurrence. He was a very angry man that would explode for no reason… like a ticking time
bomb. We could be talking about something and just because my words were out of context or if I had a
different opinion than him… he would lash out and belittle me. His voice was so strong & loud that it
would literally feel like it was tearing my skin open inside of my ears. But not long after the lashing
out/screaming episode, he’d begin trying to make up with touching me and/or trying to make me laugh.
It was constant mind games. Constant. Rarely was there an actual apology and if he did apologize it was
generally because I would say sorry first just to clear the air for the time being. I was the peacemaker,
Making me feel insignificant and irrelevant were prominent in my day to day life. From the moment I
would wake up in the morning, before I’d even open my eyes… I would begin to dread the day ahead.
The term “walking on eggshells” was so real to me, I envisioned myself every day doing exactly that. It
was horrible and a miserable place to be emotionally. Not only was he beating me down emotionally,
but mentally I was done. I neglected myself and was solely focused on him and how I could somehow
change him to make him a happier person. If he was happier, then he won’t be so angry, and he won’t
lash out. Little did I know I could not change someone who didn’t want to be changed. I had no hope for
our marriage to get better and I thought that this was all my life was ever going to be. A marriage filled
with no love… yes there was “surface level” love but not real deep intimate love. The kind of love you
read about in the Bible and are told from an early age that you should have when you get married. That
was never going to happen in this marriage. I wouldn’t even classify this relationship as a marriage…
legally married was all it was. Not only was the verbal abuse towards me but also to his kids, mainly his
two sons. I never saw him hit them but he definitely pushed them, screamed at them and called them
names, over and over again. He literally picked up his oldest son & tossed him out of the front door.
Cops were called; it was just ugly and sad. He made life ugly. I hated my life.
May 2016 – we were having a normal disagreement and something snapped in him. His eyes turned
black with a rage I’ve never seen before. I was at the top of the steps and he ran up them to confront
me. He pushed me so hard into the wall that I hit the back of my head and fell to the ground. He was on
top of me with his hands wrapped around my neck choking me. I thought “oh my God this is it for me.
He’s going to kill me.” It seemed like an eternity and I don’t know what made him stop but he did. He
simply got up and walked away cussing at me, continuing to belittle me. I couldn’t leave that house so
quickly that day. My youngest daughter (14 at the time) witnessed all of it and was screaming for him to
stop. I hate that she saw any of it but at the same time… she also saw me gather a few of our things, and
walk out, never to look back.
I get asked why I didn’t leave beforehand because I do feel that sometimes verbal & emotional abuse is
worse than the physical. The emotional damage it does to your heart & mind is sometimes harder to
heal from than a physical punch. I had invested so much into his kids and into our relationship that I felt
if I had left earlier, I wouldn’t be able to say to myself that I did EVERYTHING possible to make it work.
But I also knew that the Lord did not want this kind of life for me. This is not what marriage was
So I began to heal… I filed for divorce and made sure my daughter and I were in a safe place. I knew that
I needed to take care of myself. I engulfed myself into working out. I was determined to take care of my
body because for the last 11 years, I had not. I had tried off and on throughout the marriage to be
motivated to lose a little weight or workout but when you have no support, it’s difficult. Now that I was
on my own, I was determined to better myself. Both mentally & physically, change was going to happen.
I joined Orangetheory Fitness and began working out 4-5 times a week. I did that for about 6 months
before I began weight training heavy. Now I lift 5-6 times a week and lose myself in the gym for a couple
hours every evening. It’s my outlet, my go to. The weights don’t judge, they don’t talk, they don’t yell,
they simply allow you to use them for change. It’s a wonderful feeling and I’m so much stronger than I
was a year and a half ago. I have begun telling my story on social media and have shared my workouts as
well. Women have come out of the woodwork in support and understanding … having very similar
stories. It’s amazing what happens behind closed doors with people. We have so much more in common
than it seems sometimes. I want to empower women to be courageous and strong in their situations.
There is help out there for women that are in domestic violence relationships, they just have to tell
someone what’s going on. Don’t allow someone to treat you in a way that you feel powerless. You
should be loved in a way that is freeing. It’s taken me a long time to love myself… but I finally do and it’s
an amazing feeling.
- Kristi Casey (@kristi_joy_c)