It was 1990 something, and it wasn’t the first time I thought he had cheated but it was the first time that the other woman’s husband came to talk to me and confirm my suspicion. I was 26, young and very insecure…let me back track a few years to explain.

My Dad died in April and less than a year in January my Mom lost her battle with ovarian cancer.  I was 22 at this time and to be honest I was in shock and lived in a fog for years after. I had been dating him since I was 17 and felt I needed to make it work as this is who my parents had known me to be with. He treated me terribly, there was so much violence, so much abuse physically, sexually, and mentally.  I felt I couldn’t leave, I felt alone even though I had family and friends that would have supported me.  I didn’t want to be a burden. My siblings were young, getting married starting families, same with my friends. I was also ashamed of our relationship and how he treated me, so I pretended that everything was ok, I pretended that I was ok.  

Everyone loved him, he was very charismatic, great sense of humour and a huge heart, he would do anything for anyone…and that’s how it started.  He treated me so well in the beginning, we had so much fun and it wasn’t long before we were living together. I can’t even tell you the first time he hit me; you would think it would have been a pivotal moment, but I can’t pinpoint even the year.  The mental abuse had been escalating for years even when my parents had been alive.  I remember him saying that he must have loved my Dad more than me as he cried harder at the funeral.  It was childish and hurtful, and that’s what he was immature and at times evil. He and I would pretend; buying me extravagant gifts and flowers after he hit me and showing affection in public, but when he got home from drinking, he was a monster. 

He quit drinking about 2 years after my parents had died which stopped the physical abuse, but it did nothing to stop the mental abuse. I was determined to help him change, he had made the first step by not drinking so I thought that was a positive step in the right direction, it’s just the next steps to full recovery never came.

I do remember the day there was a knock on my back door in the small town we lived in. I was home for lunch from the bank I worked at as a Customer Service Representative. It was a friend whom I had known for years, he was also the husband of a good friend and colleague that I worked with at the bank.  You see it was this man’s wife and my good friend and colleague that was having the affair with my common law husband. It wasn’t a shock to be honest, when I think back on it there had been signs, I just ignored them. I confronted him and he denied it, so I confronted her, and she confirmed it. He moved out and the whole town knew within days, as well as the staff of the bank that both her and I worked at.  Talk about uncomfortable!! 

After about 6 months he tried to come back but by then I had already put in motion moving and starting over.  I left my hometown, my friends and family, the place where I had grown up to start over in the big city. 

I carried resentment, anger, hurt, sadness, shame, and a whole lot more around with me for years and still do carry some of it 30 years later. I didn’t seek help; I didn’t even talk about it. I just put it in the past and moved on.

Fast forward 30 years and I’m still in the big city, married and have a son. I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if I had stayed. If there wasn’t that knock on the door that crushed my spirit, shattered my dreams and kicked me in the butt. 

30 years later, and I have just now started to process what abuse I went through. I sought out a therapist and have really immersed myself in self-care and learning about how my abuse has affected my life and continues to affect my life. I have never talked to anyone about my trauma until my therapist diagnosed me with a form of PTSD and encouraged me to try different treatments. 

My story isn’t much different from a lot of abused women, the reason I am talking about it now is I encourage anyone that has been in a violent relationship to seek counseling as you can’t heal on your own. A month ago was the first time I told any of my friends or family about any of the abusive details and they were shocked as they never knew it had been as bad as it was.  They were heartbroken that I hadn’t reached out to them.  Please don’t feel that you are a burden, your friends and family want to help, reach out for their support but also seek out professional help as well. Do not wait 30 years, it will creep up on you and for no explicit reason cause you anxiety, sadness, shame, guilt, mistrust and so much more.

I am so thankful he chose to have an affair; I am so thankful that there was a knock on my door, I am so thankful I had the courage to leave, I am so thankful for my family I have now. So, you see “He had an Affair and it Saved my Life”


Karen Hagen

Karen Hagen started her resiliency journey at the early age of 22 when both her parents died within a year of each other. Overcoming an abusive relationship, infertility and even more grief Karen is the picture of reinventing and resiliency. 

Karen is a wife, Mom to an amazing 15 year old son, Sister, Aunt, Friend and Certified Fitness Coach.  Karen has been actively instructing in the fitness industry for 10 years including Bootcamp, HIIT, Strength, Corporate Fitness, Older Adult, Small Group, One on One and Yoga Nidra. 

Karen has a love for the outdoors and is passionate about living a healthy and active lifestyle. She passes on her knowledge and passion to her clients, assisting them in their mental and physical needs and support.


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