“I’m a survivor” were words that were once hard for me to say out loud. I used to be ashamed. Ashamed that I could love a person who was so mentally, emotionally, and physically abusive. He didn’t care if I was his wife or even carrying his child. He could go from being loving and sweet, to controlling and abusive, within a matter of seconds. I never knew what would trigger him. I couldn’t speak up for myself—that was a no no. I hid this awful truth from my family for a long time.
I was raised by two strong women, my Grandmother and my Mother. They were amazing and God-fearing women who always had my back, but I was still too scared to tell them about my abuse. I was afraid of what they would think of me, I was afraid I would let them down, I was afraid of what my ex-husband might do. I was simply afraid and felt so alone.
I didn’t visit my family often as my ex-husband refused to let me. Maybe, if I would have, they would have noticed something was wrong and I would have left sooner.
It eventually took the kindness of strangers to help me leave my abusive marriage. I showed signs of bruises that I thought I was doing a great job at covering up. In reality, it fooled nobody.
It wasn’t until I left my abusive husband that my Mom found out the truth. It was the hardest thing I had to tell her because I felt I was such a disappointment. I now know that I wasn’t—those feelings of low self-worth were something created in my head.
My Mother and my Grandmother loved me and my son, Christian, so much. They prayed over us every day, prayed for our protection, prayed for my strength. A day never went by when my Mom didn’t say, “I pray for you and that I’m proud of you.”
It wasn’t until years later, in my thirties, that I realized I wasn’t the weak one, but my ex-husband was. I was strong which is why he wanted to break me so he could feel better than what he was. That’s what people like him do. They try to break you. but guess what? I’m not broken. I am stronger than ever!
This is why I created Strong Women, also known as SWfit_ness. It started as a clothing brand in memory of my strong lady, my Mother, who I lost to cancer last year. But now SW Fitness has grown to something more. It’s a brand which promotes female empowerment, where women can encourage each other, applaud our achievements. Where we remind each other how emotionally, physically strong we truly are.
I learned that those rocky turns I took only put me on my current path. I had to face that trauma and actually embrace it. When I say embrace, I don’t mean I deserve that treatment—but I now recognize it for what it was. I recognize the emotional scars it left, but they are not the end of me. In fact, it was only was the mere beginning of who I am becoming. A Strong Woman, that’s me.
Crystal Lee is the founder of Strong Women Fitness (@SWfit_ness), an athleisure and lifestyle brand for women who are ready to find “Find Their Strong”. A thirty-something mother who grew up in Queens, NY, she is passionate about helping fellow women overcome feelings of self-doubt and past traumas, in order to live a more empowered life.
SW Fitness has proudly pledged a portion of all their proceeds to benefit LiveYourDream.org and our life-changing programs for women and girls in need.