Although the fear of starting over could feel immobilizing in unhealthy relationships, Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October is an ideal time to celebrate resilient survivors who broke free from domestic or sexual abuse.
According to The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one out of three women, and one out of four men, have endured some type of physical violence displayed by an “intimate partner.”
Constance Craig-Mason, 42, is a shining example of an individual who knows the sting of being impacted by this sort of crisis. She grew up in Baltimore with a dream of becoming an architect but at 16, she landed in an unhealthy relationship with the father of her two eldest children. Approximately four months into her pregnancy, Craig- Mason said that she was choked. Although the police were called, the abuse continued.
“The final most traumatizing experience with him was when I was held captive for three days at his friend’s house and was physically and sexually assaulted, while I was pregnant with our second child, and in front of our 10-month-old son,” Craig-Mason said.
Without money for college, no babysitter for her children, and struggles in an abusive relationship, Craig- Mason’s goals shifted towards crafting an exit plan. After a little over two years, the survivor managed to implement lifechanging strategies. “I moved, changed jobs, unlisted my phone number and cut off communication with him and everyone who knew him. The threats and mind manipulation still lived with me even though he was not near me any longer,” Craig-Mason said. “I felt like the world was moving around me and I was stuck in a mental, emotional jail.”
Craig-Mason found a local church led by a woman evangelist who ministered “to wounded men and women.” Spirituality and a church family provided the strength and support Craig- Mason needed to inspire her into wanting better for herself and children.
Upon reflection, Craig-Mason said that she now realizes that living in a home with a mother and stepfather who had a toxic, abusive marriage led to her low self-esteem. This, she believes was the root cause of her pursuing a refuge with one of the first males who showed interest in her.
Despite it all, Craig-Mason found her second wind. The international speaker, best-selling author, and licensed financial advisor, has a long list of accomplishments, which include being the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate Degree from Trinity International University Ambassadors School of Business Honors Program in 2021.
Love found Craig-Mason, too. She now resides in York, Pennsylvania, with her husband of 16 years, Anthony Mason. The pair met at a bus stop in Baltimore when Anthony was a professional bus driver on layover. Constance was awaiting a different bus while heading home from a part time job. An impromptu conversation led to new chapters in life. Anthony was willing to be a loving mate and “step-up dad” to her young children. The couple also went on to have a biological son together.
“I made it easy for her (Constance) to entrust me with very private details about her past. She always tells me that people need to hear about the hurts of others in order to heal their own hurts. I didn’t fully understand that, until she encouraged and helped me to heal my own,” Anthony said. “We talk about everything— raising our kids, grandkids, goals and dreams— even uncomfortable things. I am patient and gentle with Constance. I am by her side for little and big moments in her life. Healing is a marathon, not a sprint, and we are both here for the entire journey.”
Constance and Anthony continually embrace life’s opportunities with optimism. They launched an inaugural book project entitled “Money TALK$: Uncut Convos With Power Couples About Love, Money & Entrepreneurship” with 23 other African American, married, entrepreneur couples this year. “During civil unrest and a global pandemic, we didn’t want to complain about the negative realities, we wanted to do our part to bring about hope, inspiration, empowerment and resources to small business owners and families. Volume II will be launching February 2022, with a second group of coauthors,” Anthony said. “We wanted to give back and inspire others [to show them] that even through adversity married couples in business could be successful. And, we created an unofficial village of support to champion each other’s challenges and achievements!” For more information about Constance and Anthony Mason, visit: www.realconnected.co or https://ccraig mason.com/.