1 in 4

20 Oct, 2011

Everyday I open myself up as a snowboarder to the world but I still remain closed off on the interior of who I am. I’ve been meaning to share my story for years but still never have. Maybe it was feeling ashamed, scared or just trying to let time heal wounds…who knows.  It’s October, a month that brings recognition to women’s issues like breast cancer awareness and domestic violence awareness. Last year I acknowledged breast cancer awareness and domestic violence in a post and in a comment, Leigh said “acknowledging the problem is the first step to fixing it.” I’d like to discuss my experience, acknowledge a problem and speak honestly on what October means to me.

An estimated 5.3 million women are abused every year and 1 in 4 have endured some kind of domestic violence in their lifetime. I am the 1 in 4, it does happen in ski towns and it can happen to people you know. I’m finally ready to share my story.

Shay in the Northwest

I thought I was exempt when they educated me about domestic violence, that I was too strong, too smart and would never allow a man to get away with hitting me. Somehow I ended up in that exact relationship despite being too strong and too smart. When the first negative comment came, he apologized right after and it was forgotten. Eventually the comments came more often; being told how stupid I was, how my degree was worthless, that my family was horrible, my friends were bad for me, the list went on. Eventually when you hear negative comments so often by someone you love and trust, you start to go numb.

I found myself deep into a emotionally/mentally abusive relationship and yet I still believed he loved me. After some time, it turned physical. When the physical abuse happened I told him to stop and he never did. When it got bad, I would turn on myself and start beating myself so that he would stop hurting me. I never called the cops because as he told me that would lead to his arrest. How could I arrest someone I loved? I was blamed as the one provoking him, I provoked a guy into hitting me, punching my head and my face. No matter how it ended, it was my fault. I was lucky because I was able to escape after the relationship ended.

Years have gone by and while there are no visible scars, beneath the surface lies the reality of a relationship turned horribly wrong. Domestic violence happens everywhere, it can happen in a ski town and it can happen to snowboarders and skiers, men or women. The signs are so apparently clear after you’ve been part of it, but hard to see when you love the person doing it. Keep your friends and family close, because without them it’s so easy to get taken advantage of and manipulation will do that. Watch for signs, whether it’s physical or mental and make sure you or your friends always have someone to talk to.

I never thought I would be one of those women…but I am, it’s part of my story and I am sharing this with the hope that it could help others. Please take a second to read a helpguide on signs of domestic abuse and keep an eye out for those close to you.

About the author


From the beginning of time, I was Shannon. From the beginning of snowboarding, I was Shay. From the beginning of online communities, I was Shayboarder. In the end, I’m the writer, photographer, editor, publisher, guru of sorts, product tester, curvy girl, and most importantly the snowboarder behind it all. Follow me on this journey through snowboarding, mountain biking, traveling and fun experiences!


  1. mofi
    October 20, 2011

    Some women are never able to break away from a violent relationship, and many that do have trouble freeing themselves from blame. Although you made some poor decisions at the time, it’s wonderful that you’re smart enough and strong enough to let the healing progress, rise above, and spread the awareness. Rock on.

  2. Dan
    October 20, 2011

    Long time reader, first time commenter as they say. Just wanted to congratulate you on your bravery for opening up like this, hopefully your story will help others. Can’t remember who it was who said it first, but “living well is the best revenge”!

  3. C
    October 20, 2011

    Thank you for sharing your story. It was very strong of you.

  4. elbow
    October 20, 2011

    You are so strong to share this, putting other people’s awareness and future decisions ahead of your privacy. You are wonderful and very loved Shay!

  5. Ann
    October 20, 2011


    Very powerful story.
    stay strong and always stay safe. Thank you for sharing.
    And keep riding. 🙂

  6. Kmberly
    October 20, 2011

    Thank you for sharing your voice. It’s important for women to be strong and be heard!

  7. Diego Peixoto
    October 20, 2011

    Powerful story Shay, I pray that more and more women like you will have the courage and ability to break free from such a horrible thing. Thanks for sharing for i know it takes a very strong person to do that.
    Thanks again for sharing!

  8. Moselle
    October 20, 2011

    Thank you so much for being brave enough to share your personal story with your readers. Your courage and your expression of yourself is truly beautiful. Thanks again.

  9. Leigh
    October 20, 2011

    Rock on, Shay! There aren’t many people who really care about DV and recognize it as a serious problem. But it absolutely is. Nobody deserves to be battered, especially by a loved one.
    Thanks for making your voice heard.

  10. Wayne
    October 20, 2011

    Glad you were able to get out of that situation. This is a horrible side effect of a person with very low self esteem. They are trying to feel superior by commanding total control over another person. Don’t ever think you deserved any of this. So glad that you got out. And proud of you for sharing it. 🙂 xoxoxo

  11. Phil
    October 20, 2011

    Whoever that “angry” little man is, he doesn’t deserve your silence.

  12. JT
    October 20, 2011


    I’m glad you were able to share, and help others out there understand they are not alone, and there is hope. You’re a strong, courageous awesome person, and I’m glad to call you my friend! I’ve always got your back, and am proud of ya! Thank you for sharing!

  13. cdr
    October 20, 2011

    you’re a beast. hope your story can help someone else in the same situation! I don’t know how open you were with that story to your friends and family, but either way, I’m sure it feels a lot better to get that all out!

  14. October 20, 2011

    Oh Shay… I never knew. My heart breaks reading this… I know that’s not your intention.

    I hate that that happened to you. Or that it could happen to anyone.

    Thanks for sharing that with us and for being so courageous… maybe you will help someone else!

    Stay awesome, Shay. Love you!

  15. October 20, 2011

    P.S. Hope you are coming up soon. Miss boarding with you.. last year was a writeoff 🙁

  16. October 20, 2011

    Everyone, thank you so much for the amazing comments. I am so lucky to have readers who can back me even when I share such a personal story. I really owe a lot to my friends who have helped me along the healing process. This is part of it, not hiding and not staying silent but admitting that bad things can happen and hoping that I can help it so others don’t endure the same thing. For years, I’ve had a secret and I feel free.

    Dan, great quote and truly what makes me get through it is knowing that I’m better off, having a good time and loved by amazing people. I’m happy.

    CDR, it took me a couple years after to admit to my family and I’m not sure they knew the whole story. Since both of my parents read my blog I did warn them that a very personal post was coming up. Close friends have known for years and stood by me.

  17. Kim
    October 20, 2011

    Hi Shay, thanks for sharing your story. It’s imperative that women share their stories so more and more women know that it’s safe to come forward and speak out against their abusers. Most, if not all, states have a program called The Domestic Violence Project (DVP) which offers free legal services to women (or men) seeking restraining orders and/or emergency child support against abusive husbands, boyfriends, or partners. These programs provides women with not only information on shelters, but can also work to link them up with pro bono attorneys to advocate on their behalf, or at the very least, help them fill out the legal paperwork necessary for a TRO.

    Can’t wait for the snow so I can continue reading your awesome posts and reviews and thanks, again, for your courage.

  18. BenR
    October 20, 2011

    Thanks for sharing your story….I grew up with an abusive father, he was never physical with my sister and I, but most of the memories I have of him involve him beating my mother. When he died it was a relief, I’m sure I am a much better man without him in my life. I was still young enough to not follow in his foot steps. I would never abuse my finace (will be my wife next summer), I think my upbringing definately made it easier for me to be sure that I would never become my father. It’s important that you tell your story, just as it is for me to tell mine. Too many people can not put a face to what they see as a problem that will never affect them….the sad truth is that it will affect many of us. Thanks so much for having the courage to tell your story Shay….we love you.

  19. BenR
    October 20, 2011

    ps….. want us to kick his ass for you? it could be cathartic for everyone involved.

  20. October 21, 2011

    Kim, thank you for that information. I had no idea about the legal services. Luckily for me when I was ready my employer in CO offered free therapy so I took advantage of that.

    Ben, thank you for sharing your story about abuse and becoming a better man that what you were shown. I’m amazed by the stories that have come out since this post and the discussions it has opened up. It’s nothing to hide and something that can effect us all at some time. You’ll make a great husband!

  21. October 21, 2011

    very powerful, thanks for sharing, stay strong!

  22. Snow Witch Elemental
    October 22, 2011

    Hi Shay,

    you are one hell of a courageous woman. It takes a lot of strength to share such a deeply personal story. I hope your life is better now, and I wish you good luck in your personal endeavours. Thank you again.

  23. Anonymous but not powerless
    October 22, 2011

    I do not want to distract from the very important subject of this post, but I think that abusive friendships are similar even if they aren’t as intimate as a marriage or partnership. I suppose you might call that bullying instead of violence, but it is similar on so many levels. Like some people think fights don’t happen in a “perfect” marriage, some think abuse doesn’t happen in close friendships. I recently had to end one of my friendships when I realized that my “friend” was psychologically damaging me. She kept making judgemental comments about me because of the way I looked and what I did. Some were to my face and some were not. Because I have short hair and like plaid shirts and more modest, loose clothing, she would make insults of me looking like a lesbian (which I am not, and I don’t mean anything homophobic by saying that, I mean that I felt insulted that my orientation was challenged because of something nonsensical). She would also say stuff about cross-dressing and me liking “guy” things. I knew that it didn’t really make sense, but it still hurt. I thought I could just keep shaking it off like a joke, but really it was making me angry inside. After a while you don’t realize exactly what is happening. I’ve been snowboarding almost five years now, and decided to pick up skateboarding this spring. She told me that I was stupid for even trying to go near the guys (no other girls skate in my town) and I was just going to get addicted to drugs. She even went as far as to say that if I went to the skatepark, I better hide my water bottle so no one would drug me– just really disgusting stuff she was saying to try to make me not do something that I enjoyed. She was very manipulative and sometimes I didn’t notice, but other times I thought it was weird. She didn’t even want me to leave her for a minute to stop by the washroom during lunch, presumably so she’d know I wasn’t talking to any girls who might have been there and I didn’t leave her sight. She would freak out if my clothes clashed with hers and order me not to walk beside her because it’d make her outfit look bad. It wasn’t big, serious stuff, but any type of bullying and abuse ends up badly. When I learned that she had done a lot of damage to our other friends and other people, who were eventually not afraid to share their experiences, I finally started see how bad it was getting for me. I knew I had to get out, so I just told her it was over, and she told me she hadn’t liked me for the past two years anyways (insults again!). And she left. I will be completely honest and say that the only thing that was keeping me from physically harming her as revenge was the fact that I was about to graduate from high school and did not want to jeopardize that with expulsion. But soon I forgave her and I feel a lot better with myself. I am so glad that I did not become an abuser myself by dealing with it the wrong way. I didn’t lose myself or stop doing what I loved. I hope that now I will see the warning signs of manipulative and damaging people before being friends with them.

    Thanks for bringing up such a sensitive topic. Whether abuse is at home, in a relationship, or in a friendship, and whatever type of abuse it is, it needs to be talked about more so people realize what might even be happening to them.

  24. james biesty
    October 23, 2011

    Well Done Shay!

    The only reason I was lucky enough to meet and marry my wife is because her mother had the courage to leave an abusive husband and stop the cycle. She and her siblings are doing very well today because of that exit. Hopefully your thread will help others do the same.

  25. October 24, 2011

    Glad you shared this story for the world to see and educate people that it happens to anyone and anywhere. I, a male, apologize for my species. Sometimes I wonder how guys like that are going to end up, living life like animals.

    I think we are all glad that you left that relationship and glad that you dont have physical memories, but the emotial scars run deeper.

    Glad your with us as we speak 🙂

  26. keri
    October 24, 2011

    Thanks for sharing that deeply personal part of your life. I am so encouraged by women like you who do have the strength and courage to rebuild their lives after another human being tried to tear it down. I am working towards my Women’s Studies degree right now and think that speaking out on these issues is one of the best things we, as women, can do. Kudos to you for being so brave! And thanks for such a kick ass site!

  27. From a Dutch reader
    October 30, 2011

    That put a bit of a tear in my eyes reading to be honest. I don’t even know what to say, exept how brave and honest your story is.
    Going to be extra extra nice to my wife from now on to offset the hardship some girls have to endure from losers like that.

    Love your site (I know it’s for girls, but I like reading about snowboarding without all the macho look-how-cool-I-am stuff )