First came the verbal abuse, then mounting threats and vicious shoving and grabbing.
Kristina Gagnon didn’t stick around to get slapped across the face or punched.
With the help of the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter and her supportive friends and relatives, she was able to bail out of an abusive six-month relationship with a controlling boyfriend.
Now the Red Deer songwriter has written a YouTube song to help other women leave similarly bad situations.
In her debut single, Half of Love is War, Gagnon tells the story of a woman “who’s used to the horrible things that are happening in her life. She thinks there’ll never be anything better for me. Love is slamming doors and half of love is war …”
The 24-year-old hopes that women suffering from domestic violence will listen to the song, see themselves in the lyrics, and gain some perspective.
“I hope they will get the motivation to get out,” said Gagnon, who recommends seeking assistance from the Central Alberta Women’s Shelter.
While her soft-rock song can be heard for free, she asks listeners to make a donation to the shelter. She never stayed there, but got some invaluable outreach assistance. “They gave me the information I needed, and reassured me that I was making the right decision.”
Gagnon understands how easily confidence can be eroded by daily put-downs. “What really affected me was him saying, ‘You’re never going to find anyone better than me.’ I was feeling like I’m the lowest of the low. I’ll never find anyone else, so I might as well stay …”
The singer and composer, who works as a taxi dispatcher, credits supportive friends and family members — especially her mom (“she’s my rock”) — for helping her see that she’s worthy of better treatment.
This isn’t the first time Gagnon has had to deal with adversity or abuse. She said she’s been publicly open about being the victim of a sexual predator when she was younger. Her abuser was later charged by police.
Gagnon hopes the song Half of Love is War (which contains a couple of profanities) will help female victims of domestic abuse find motivation through anger — in the way that listening to Eminem’s rap songs made her furious enough with her sexual abuser to contact police.
“Eminem gave me an outlet to feel anger and do something about the situation … I want people to feel anger in connection to my song, to feel, this is me and it doesn’t have to be me.”