Kristen

Unlocking my Strength

By Kristen

Ten years ago, I was trapped in a domestic violence (DV) relationship. The consequences of this relationship were extensive, affecting my mental, emotional, and physical well-being. During this period, I was prescribed oxycodone for multiple injuries. As the abusive relationship got worse, so too did my abuse of oxycodone.

Eight years ago, I successfully navigated my way out of that DV relationship and my addiction. I have been sober for eight years. This is my story of discovering my strength against the odds and using it to reach my fullest potential.

At seven months pregnant, after hours of being locked in a room—berated with verbal abuse, smothered, struck, and strangled—my water broke. I convinced my abuser that if either the baby or I died, no amount of “it won’t happen again” would save him from legal ramifications and that 911 needed to be called. He was arrested, while I was airlifted to a Seattle hospital.

It is difficult to explain the effect of DV on my life. I mourned the loss of myself. The motivated high school student who switched into a homeschool program to organize my school work around two jobs. The independent traveler who moved alone to London, France, and Australia to experience history, culture, and adventure. The driven worker who networked my way up through the Vegas casino industry.

Over time, I wholeheartedly accepted that all my hopes and dreams were no longer attainable. However, after that medevac helicopter ride, when my son was born, I once again could see the world’s opportunities. For the first time, I did not fear the threats of my abuser or the potential devastation of leaving my house, businesses, cars, and money behind. Upon holding my son, I was abruptly charged with the strength to fight, the humility to become homeless, the courage to start my life over, and the power to never look back.

After a month in the hospital, we moved into a DV shelter. My only possession was my premature newborn son. There I spent months, researching daycare assistance programs to permit me to find work, low-income housing to give us a home, and the court system to enact a protection order and parenting plan. This experience allowed me to become an expert on navigating the systems and programs available to survivors of DV and those
enduring hardships.

As I moved through this process, it became clear to me that so many other people were suffering in similar situations and I became determined to use my focus, experience, and skills on their behalf. To serve these individuals, I first needed to fulfill my dream of attaining my undergraduate degree.

With the support of Goodwin Connections, I graduated from the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business last spring and enrolled at the University of Washington School of Law in the fall. The afterschool care assistance I received for my inquisitive and charming son gave him a creative outlet and educational opportunities that enhanced his own educational journey. For me, it allowed more freedom in scheduling classes, the ability to reallocate my finances as a single mom, and created a future with less debt upon graduation. The childcare piece made it all possible.

My story of addiction, abuse, and poverty is not uncommon. However, what is less likely, is coming through to the other side, stronger and ready to apply that strength to the injustices in the world. I am using my second chance to make myself a better person and the world a better place.

Posted in News, Personal Stories