Striding Ahead

Written by Kate Jordan

In early March 2020, I walked away from a two-year abusive relationship. On reflection, I knew things weren’t right from very early on, but I persevered. Because that’s what I do. I’m a people pleaser and an empath, but I fell in love with someone who could never be happy. I was stuck on a rollercoaster of walking on eggshells and groveling back to maintain our relationship when things blew up, which they inevitably did.

Emotional abuse is insidious. It’s a grey zone. It’s just enough discomfort that you don’t question it. If you put a frog in boiling water, it jumps out. If you put a frog in water and slowly heat it up, it never notices the danger it’s in. Emotional abuse isn’t discussed often enough and people can confuse it with domestic abuse, the two are often linked. In my experience, physical violence would have been the big wake-up call I needed, a black and white reason to leave: “he hit me”. Emotional abuse is so much harder to describe: “he made me feel worthless” “he made me blame myself” “he cut me off from my friends” “he made me so physically ill with stress that I couldn’t eat or sleep”. But in that grey zone, he planted just enough doubt in myself that I stayed. He manipulated my mind to believe I was the cause of my own suffering. If I had said it differently, or been on time, or made more of an effort, or done it his way, then he would be happy. I wasted two years of my life chasing a happiness that didn’t exist. A friend of mine reminded me that it wasn’t a waste of time, because I’ve learned valuable lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Emotional abuse leaves deep internal scars that I am still healing. The work I commit to myself to grow and learn from my experience is the hardest challenge I have ever taken on. Journaling, meditating, counseling, ironing out the creases and crevices in my brain where I still blame myself. I didn’t believe people could be so… horrible. I didn’t believe that someone I loved would make me feel so terrible about myself. So I did just that, I didn’t believe it and continued on as best I could. Until I couldn’t. In the end it took three episodes of infidelity for me to stand up for myself and say “I don’t deserve this.”

When I walked away from my abuser, I rediscovered my energy. I suddenly had a full cup of Kate to give to anything I wanted. I had also lost my job and travel plans due to Covid-19, but I was happier than I had been in such a long time. I worked through a lot of painful memories in those following months, but I knew in my core that every day away from him was a step in the right direction. With all my newfound energy, I fixed my attention on the Kepler Ultramarathon, a 60km trail run in Fiordland in December 2020. I also took a brave step in creating the Striding Ahead Instagram page, a place where I could share my training and talk openly about my experience of emotional abuse. On reflection, I knew nothing about emotional abuse until I took the Positive Relationship Quiz at I realised that if I had known the signs of an unhealthy relationship, I may have left much earlier than I did. As part of my recovery, I researched emotional abuse, narcissism, gaslighting, and manipulation so that I could share my newfound knowledge and spread awareness. I am educating people to make informed decisions, so they don’t have to go through what I went through. Striding Ahead sheds light on what happens behind closed doors so that people don’t feel alone in their experiences. It also celebrates what can be achieved when we reclaim our energy and use it how we want to.

A few months after I started Striding Ahead, a former colleague posted about the negative experiences she was going through in her relationship. I reached out to her and shared my story, we found so much support in knowing we weren’t alone. Admitting the abuse I had put up with for so long made me feel weak, but here was another strong and determined woman who had been through a similar experience. I realised it can happen to anyone; emotional abuse does not discriminate. She had an existing entry for the two-person relay in the Coast to Coast 2021, a multi-sport event where competitors race from Kumara Beach on the West Coast to New Brighton Beach on the East Coast of the South Island. She needed a teammate for the cycle and kayak legs of the race, of course I said yes! The kayak leg really tested my bravery and resilience after tipping out of my boat twice. Sitting on the river bank cold, tired and scared, I thought about why I was doing this. I thought about the purpose behind Striding Ahead, I thought about my amazing teammate waiting for me to tag her at the end!  We placed third in the Women’s Two Day Two Person category, supported by our amazing partners, friends, and family.

On the 6th of March 2021, it will be one year since I stood up for myself and decided to take back control of my life. On the 6th of March 2021, I will compete in one of the most grueling competitions on earth: the Ironman New Zealand triathlon in Taupo. A 3.8km swim in Lake Taupo, 180km bike to Reporoa and back twice, rounded out with a 42.2km run along the lakefront. (note this was written prior to lockdown so the date may change)

If you would like to join me on my journey and on race day, you can follow @StridingAhead on Instagram and @StridingAheadNZ on Facebook. You can show your support for Striding Ahead by donating to, all proceeds go to White Ribbon NZ. Leave a supportive message in the comments and our supporters will write it on a sign to inspire me during the run leg!

This is how I’ve chosen to use my energy; how will you use yours?

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