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A Conversation with Ajna and KC

In this episode, Ajna and KC discuss confronting the fallout of domestic violence with their past partners. Ajna has dealt with three different abusive situations since she was 19. Most of the men in those relationships were controlling and threatened her life in some form—one man held her hostage with a knife to her throat, and the other attempted to kill her multiple times.

KC married at 15 years old and experienced abuse within two weeks of her marriage. She says she came home one night and discovered her former husband using heroin—he assaulted her afterward. The abuse did not stop there. KC eventually left her former husband and became romantically involved with her neighbor. The two of them moved to California and lived happily together for six months, until he assaulted her. KC was then forced to endure a violent marriage for over a decade, which led to multiple suicide attempts as a result of her trauma.

KC and Ajna are still on a path of healing, but acknowledge they are not to blame for their traumatic pasts. They want other people to know their self-worth, recognize when someone is being controlling or violent, and to seek help if they're in an abusive relationship.

Transcript

Ajna Wysowksi:

Mine first started when I was 19. I've been in about three different abusive situations. The first one, he was just very controlling, wouldn't let me wear short skirts or go places by myself. And then the second one was an unexpected situation where the actual relationship didn't feel abusive or anything, but he did spin out of control one night. I think he was high on cocaine, his eyes just like turn black, and he held me hostage in my own apartment. He held a knife to my throat. And I felt really shattered after that night, somebody who I loved at the time being like that completely abusive towards me.

My third situation was about four years long. We were even engaged. He was controlling, did the gaslighting, made me feel crazy sometimes. Yeah, being very controlling about me seeing my friends, or living my life, or being jealous about me. He also tried to kill me a couple of times. It really messed with my head about just like how you can love somebody so deeply and then they try to kill you. It really makes you look at the world in a different way.

KC Brandow:

You just repeat stuff over, you know, same guy, same guy. And I think the turning point in my life came when I was about 29. And I just decided like, wow, something is wrong with me that I keep choosing the same kind of guy. So I decided to swear off of dating. I thought I was going to be like six months and then I just like—

Ajna:

It's kind of where I'm at.

KC:

I went inside myself. You know how a mechanic fixes a car and you're like, oh, I don't need this, I don't need this, need this. Well, I said I do, but on the inside. The sad part about my thing was that nobody talked about it back then. People would try to help or whatever, but now there's a light on it, which is cool to be talking to you. It's kind of like you're at the age where I broke free. For me, I was 15 years old. I was so naive. I was in a small town in Pennsylvania. I was married for two weeks.

Ajna:

When you were 15?

KC:

Yeah.

Ajna:

Wow.

KC:

Yeah, because I wanted to get out of the house because there was a lot of dysfunction. And I think my parents let me marry him because they're from the old country and he was the mayor's son or whatever. But after like two weeks, I came home when he was sitting under a grow light wasted on heroin, which I didn't even know what heroin was. And so I still remember. He slapped me that night, and that was the first time that I was ever abused by anyone.

During that two weeks, my next-door neighbor was this guy from California. So I worked as a waitress. I went to school and stuff. And then I got involved with this next-door neighbor, tall, dark, handsome, musical prodigy or whatever, and I'm small town girl. We wrote songs together and things like that. And after about six months, I told my mom I was moving to California.

But during this whole six months we went together, he was really awesome, nice. But the first day we came to California, he slapped me and it just got worse. And we were actually together 10 years. I mean this guy, he pummeled me and he was even in my—

Ajna:

I've been pummeled.

KC:

Yeah.

Ajna:

It's like a mountain goat coming at you.

KC:

It's terrible and the thing that—you know, like when I was getting pummeled, we'd be partying with our friends and all of a sudden I'd be laying on the floor and this 6 foot guy is like kicking me in the gut and everybody is so like…they don't know what to do. They're just freaked out, and so you're getting pummeled. I got out of that relationship, and then I got involved right away with another guy, and he was abusive too.

Ajna:

Your story sounds very similar. I am going through that process that you were talking about, about where you're like swearing off dating and you're really going deep inside of yourself and having to really look within. And I've been having to ask myself, "OK, why am I attracting this toxic situation? What's toxic inside of me? How do I remove that?" Not that I have like totally not dated anybody, but I haven't gotten physical because it's just like it's weird. It's weird.

KC:

I think when you put sex in this situation, especially when you've been through it, because the thing about it is like, OK, you're 29. Even if you're stopping now, you're probably going to need a lot of therapy. It's so good if you go to therapy and you just like open yourself up to it. God saved me. I mean, I got to the point where I was going to take my life more than once.

Ajna:

Me, too, actually.

KC:

And I slit my wrist while I was married. One time I drank Clorox because he was beating me and trying to make me write a $500 check. And I would justify, well, he said he was sorry.

Ajna:

Or it's because I acted this way, I said this, I triggered that behavior.

KC:

Your fault, right? Getting physical, like I could date a guy and not—I don't know. Something just happens when I would have sex with a guy. Like it almost tamed me. I would be fiercely independent, but then if I gave myself to them physically, something happened.

Ajna:

It's almost kind of like giving your power away a little bit. I think I did stop dating now because I kept thinking about my ex. I was even kind of seeing somebody in this platonic romantic way, and he still managed to break my heart with no sexual activity. I was like, how did that happen?

KC:

There is no reason for another human to lay their hands on you, you know, period. But it takes a while to get that out of your system. Just thinking and talking to you today, a lot of stuff is coming up. But I know how to deal with it and I've learned the truth. Like you've been fed a lot of things by these people that isn't the truth.

Ajna:

Because it's like I haven't really necessarily been the nicest person to myself either. It starts from there. It's like me abusing myself, telling myself, "Oh, I'm a loser, POS," whatever, et cetera, you know. And then it's like, oh, now somebody else is telling me that too.

KC:

The thing that helped me is I would say back to the pit of hell where you came from. I don't really get them anymore that much, but I'm way down the road, you know, my recovery. You have to change your self-talk because you are beautiful.

I think what you're going to find in your journey is that it's kind of like a butterfly, you know, being in a cocoon. And like when you're in abuse, you're in this cocoon only. You're not really turning into a butterfly. You're kind of like rotting away, you know, your potential.

Ajna:

That's been a big part of it too has been like redeveloping my self-confidence and everything because I feel like a lot of my self-esteem and ego just like went out the window. I feel like I've almost had to rebuild like an entirely new self, you know, from a place of like no ego and just like so humble. And I look at my past actions a lot more, too. I am so much more self-conscious and aware of how what I do affects other people.

KC:

I can tell you I'm 60 years old, right? You only get one life. I wasted from 15 to almost 30 with this guy. And not only did he take those years from me, like the recovery years afterwards. For you, it's at least a little bit of a shorter time and you're already on the outs. So that's great. You can achieve this magnificent potential without any man. And a healthy relationship I think it is two wholes, being a couple.

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