NOTE: This story contains material about sexual and dating violence.
BOZEMAN - Are you one of the millions watching ‘Maid’ on Netflix? It is a show based on a best-selling book written by Stephanie Land, an author based in Montana.
The story resonates deeply with women who have endured physical and emotional abuse. Women like Kassie Maloney.
She bravely shared her story with MTN news.
“I've survived so many things including near death,” said Maloney. “I’ve survived emotional, physical, verbal, and sexual abuse.”
Her soul - shattered.
Her face - black and blue.
The details in black and white in the pages of police reports: Cracked ribs, stitches, control.
“As much as it's in the past and you've moved on with your life it's still present,” she said.
Maloney courageously shares what it’s like to survive years of abuse.
“This is something that will always be a part of anybody that goes through it. You are never going to forget it.”
She says from the beginning of the relationship with her abuser she saw red flags.
“I did not honestly want anything to do with him,” she said of first meeting him. “I thought he was a weasel.”
But, she says he found a way to get inside her head.
“He literally weaseled his way into my life," she said. "I think it had a lot to do with manipulation and charm, like a classic narcissist.”
She says it started with emotional abuse.
“He made me believe people in my life weren't my friends, everything I did was stupid and unworthy,” she said.
Eventually, she says the head games turned violent. It happened about six months into the relationship.
“That was the first time he ever hit me. I had bruises on my face, my jaw. Honestly, I couldn't even believe what happened,” she said. “I am a tough woman. I am strong and I state my opinions and I am not afraid of them but I never thought someone would abuse me because of them.”
She recalled one night in Missoula when she says he literally pulled her down the street.
“I was probably a block away from my car and he chased me and grabbed me by my purse and threw me back so hard and drug me by my face in the middle of the bar scene of Missoula,” she remembers.
In the months to follow she says the abuse got more intense: black eyes, broken bones.
She decided to leave. The first time she tried to escape she went to Haven, a center for domestic abuse.
“It got so severe I thought the next time he was going to kill me.”
She followed through with legal steps for a permanent order of protection. But eventually, she would return to him and the abuse didn't stop. Then she discovered she was pregnant. Just two days later she says he was sentenced to a year behind bars for violating probation.
“Being pregnant and him being incarcerated was a gift,” she said.
From there she says, moments of clarity. The warrior inside began to fight. Not long after he got out of prison she left again.
“It was the day after he told me I should just go kill myself,” she recalled.
This time she didn't go back, firmly focused on giving her new baby girl River, the best safest life possible.
“This time was different it was River and all I could think about was her life,” said Kassie.
Now Kassie has totally rebuilt her life. She is managing a major hotel and celebrating every second with baby River. The little girl will turn two years old next week.
“I deserve better and she deserves better,” said Kassie. “I live and breathe her. She is perfect.”
She says she is sharing her story to show other women they too can survive. They too can thrive.
“There is hope and there is a way out,” said Kassie. “There are resources. You’re worthy and you're strong and you deserve better.
She says her abuser did not turn a gun on her but did use the threats as a form of manipulation.
Kassie also says watching ‘Maid’ on Netflix was an emotional experience. She wants audiences to know whether the abuse is emotional or physical it is devastating to the victim.
NOTE: From the Haven website - Haven provides confidential support, legal advocacy, counseling, and a safe place to stay for anyone and everyone impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault, sex trafficking, and stalking.
We work to empower survivors, elevate their voices, strengthen our community, hold abusers accountable, and stop the cycle of abuse.
If you don’t feel respected and safe in your relationship, Haven is here for you.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, you are not alone. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.