‘There is real love:’ S.C. domestic violence survivor raising awareness 10 years removed from abusive relationship

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Published: Apr. 18, 2023 at 7:48 PM EDT

LEXINGTON COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - One decade removed from an abusive relationship and now living a happy life, a Lexington County woman is sharing her story of healing in the hopes of helping others who may be victims of domestic violence.

Ten years ago, on April 18, 2013, after years of abuse, Kristen Moore decided she was going to leave her then-husband, James Shawver.

Deputies say he tried to kill her, stabbed her 27 times, ran her over with his car, and threatened her son.

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Shawver pled guilty to a charge of criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature in connection with the incident and served three years in prison.

In an exclusive interview Tuesday, Moore said her healing process has been a very long one, but through therapy and the support of her family, she has been able to “reprogram” her brain and learn a new way of living.

Moore also credits Sistercare, which provides trauma-informed services for domestic violence survivors and their children, for helping her.

She is now remarried and has a 9-month-old son.

That new way is one where she has a healthy love, and one where she feels genuine happiness, she said.

“All that happened to us, made us kind of the people that we are today,” Moore said about her and her teenage son, JC.

Moore said the attack by Shawver began in the couple’s home. She escaped multiple times, but he would not relent.

In the midst of that abusive relationship, Shawver made her feel like she would not be able to live without him. He had brainwashed her, she said.

“There was never any happy,” she said about that relationship. “If you saw me smile back when I was with him, it was fake. It was all show. There was nothing real about what was going on back then.”

Moore feared for her life every day, she said.

“There was not a day that I didn’t wake up and wonder if I was going to go to sleep that night, if I was going to wake up because he would attack me while I was asleep,” she said. “I mean, there were several times I would be in the bed sound asleep and just get attacked for no reason.”

She said it is hard to describe the happiness and relief she currently feels having left that situation.

“Love is not supposed to hurt,” she said.

After several years of surgeries and therapy, her world started to brighten again in 2017.

At that point, she realized that all of what she had gone through with Shawver was not normal or acceptable.

“I had to learn how to be myself, I kind of reprogramed myself and learned who I was and be okay with myself,” she said.

In 2019, Moore met her husband Kyle, whom she says has been a blessing.

“He’s really shown me and my son how a man should love somebody, how a man should treat somebody, it’s a total different thing,” she said.

It took a very long time for her to love again, and let her guard down, she said.

There are still certain things that trigger her at times.

Moore said her recovery journey is a long road, but she keeps progressing.

“Every year it gets a little better for me,” she said. “Every year I feel a little bit better about talking about it to somebody or opening up and letting them know, ‘Hey if you need to reach, if you’re going through that stuff at home, and you don’t want anybody to know, reach out to me.’”

Finding purpose through her pain, Moore is advocating for others who may be in abusive relationships.

“There is real love,” she said. “Don’t ever let it get to the situation where mine got to, where I literally almost lost my life. Reach out to somebody, and get out of it. You can change. You may have to completely start over from the ground up, and that’s what I had to do. But you may have to. But it is so worth it in the long run.”

Moore said she is making herself available to others because she wishes that someone who truly understood what she was going through had reached out to her years ago.

After posting about her journey on Facebook this week, she spoke on the phone with a few women until 4 A.M.

Moore’s son is also doing well, she said. He leaves for the Navy next month, and she could not be more proud of the man he is becoming.

A recent study found that South Carolina ranks seventh among all states with respect to the percentage of females who experienced intimate partner violence at some point in their lives.

Anyone who may be a victim of domestic violence is encouraged to reach out to one of 22 member organizations that partner with the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, which has resources available in every county in the state.

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