05/02/2013 08:52 pm ET

One Woman Shares Her Escape From Domestic Violence


Krystal Ryan was tired. Not work-tired, when your eyes start to burn. Or mom-tired, when your shoulders ache and your neck feels hollow. The 34-year-old mother of two was tired in a way she couldn’t sleep her way out of. She’d tried, but her 5-foot-7-inch frame had stopped doing what she wanted it to. Her nose ran constantly. Her teeth ached. By that fall day in 2009, her whole being just seemed to belong to someone else. • She padded around her Houston townhouse touching things—clothing, furniture, makeup—and leaving them all exactly where they were, seemingly undisturbed, so nothing looked amiss. She didn’t dare look at herself in a mirror. Although she normally grinned a lot, a smile that stretched across her mocha cheeks, it never seemed to light up her almond-shaped eyes, which always remained somber, worn, and wary. She thought about taking her journals but decided she’d like him to read them—just after she was far, far away.

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