Kristen Speller of Love IS Foundation
A Story of Domestic violence with the Phenomenal Woman Kristen Speller
Kristen Speller and her husband Marvin Speller created and established Love IS, a non-profit foundation providing health, wellness, and nutrition to the domestic violence community of the San Fernando Valley of California. It was created in 2012. The foundation was named after Kristen’s award winning song, Love IS, which was on the 54th National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Grammy Ballot for Best Pop Vocal Performance. Marvin is a community leader, having brought his years of entrepreneurship and business acumen with community programs. Together, the Love IS Foundation has partnered in the community to help victims and survivors of Domestic Violence.
Any one dealing with Domestic Violence in any form, whether in California or not can reach out to Kristen or Marvin Speller for advice or guidance here: Website
The following is the story of my dear friend Kristen’s journey through Domestic Violence and how she battled and overcame it and became the incredible strong woman she is today!
Mark Leitao: When did the domestic violence start?
Kristen Speller: In 1999, on Valentine’s Day Night, I was punched so hard in my right upper arm that I couldn’t really move it for at least a month. It was sore for a total of 3 months. I was living with my sister at the time, and I hid it from her.
ML: Was it mental or physical abuse? Describe in detail the abuse you suffered from your partner?
KS: It was mental, physical, coercion, spiritual, emotional, and financial abuse. It started when he disrespected my parents in 1998. My mother never told me about the incident until I left. He physically abused me on many occasions. Some when my family was in my home…in the other room. He said if I said anything, he would kill me, and I believed him. We moved from Massachusetts to California in 2004. I was isolated and had no friends for 2 years in California. I also worked all the time, which became my safety net. While I was working in Corporate America, I was also trying to pursue a career in music. He always twisted stories, in which I caught him several times and in so many lies. He had several affairs, one that I knew about, in which I caught him. The night that he got caught, is the night he went to jail for Domestic Violence. But I truthfully thought I could handle it. I knew it was just a matter of time before I made my move. I had to plan carefully. Financially, I was in a position to escape because I had an excellent job, which provided me with financial stability; however, he continued to lie about finances, which I once again, found out once I had escaped.
ML: How did you hide the abuse from family and friends?
KS: I became a MAC Pro member in 1999, and their makeup was the only brand that would cover up my indiscretions. Due to my profession, I often lied to my mother to cover it up and would tell her that my bruises happened at work. The face, well that was a little trickier. Red lipstick covered up a lot.
ML: How long did the abuse last?
KS: In 2005, he was arrested for Domestic Violence and went to jail. The charges were eventually dropped and he promised not to do it again. Until 2007 when I was planning my escape, he caught me in a lie (when you plan to escape, you must become a meticulous detective) and he tried to kill me. I thought that it was the end, and I thought that my mother would end up burying her baby daughter. I did everything I knew how to do, but physically he was stronger than I was. Someone was staying with us at the time and he heard me screaming at the top of lungs. He broke down our bedroom door and pulled him off of me. I couldn’t breath, I could barely walk. My entire body felt paralyzed. I left and drove off. I had no place to go that night. I went back to the house and stayed in the upstairs guest bedroom wide awake. The next day, I packed a few clothes and a couple of pairs of shoes and I escaped. I went back and forth a few times to gather some more clothes while he wasn’t there. My family also came to visit me during this time to make sure I was completely safe. I gave up my dream home and my world in which I knew. I am proud that I escaped with nothing, because in the end, it became everything.
ML: When did you finally say enough is enough?
KS: When I escaped that was it. I kept getting emails about reconciling and I sent an email stating that I was planning to divorce.
ML: Who was the first person you turned to?
KS: My escapee home and my family.
ML: How did you reach out for help?
KS: Well, I made a plan to leave. I thought that if I was going to lose my life, then I might as well go for it and try to stay alive. I relied on my instincts, which never led me wrong. My mother and sisters asked me the questions and they championed me through this process. I then flew back to my hometown of Taunton, MA and my mother set up a meeting with my best girlfriends. I told them everything. They were an amazing support system for me.
ML: What are things you did to find your strength and become the strong woman you are today?
KS: I wrote and produced my first album, Misguided Dignity. My producers guided me through this emotional process of presenting material that mimicked my life. Music is my religion and it got me through, along with my family. Making music was very therapeutic for me. I lived in hiding for 8 years. Throughout those 8 years, I learned so much about myself. The power of who I am as a very capable human being, the power in the word no, the ability of not always saying yes, and the ability to survive the gravest of conditions. I really had to have tough skin to survive such egregious behavior. I went through such a long process, but very well worth it. In addition, the Haven Hills Organization provided me with individual and outreach counseling, which gave me a better understanding of myself. I am grateful for the vast array of people whom have gotten me here.
ML: Tell me about your current life now? What are you doing? Work? Relationship?
KS: My life is so fulfilled. I have a wonderful marriage, and many endeavors in which I’m currently working on. I am a musician (currently in pre-production on my new album), a Senior Publicist for Non-Profit Organizations, a Social Media Coordinator and Consultant, and a Lifestyle Blogger. I’m doing everything that I want to do, because I’m in an environment where I’m living my best life.
ML: Tell me what love is foundation is?
KS: The Love IS Foundation was actually my husband’s idea! On one February evening in my kitchen, he said “why don’t we merge your music with a cause that we both love, Domestic Violence. Let’s start in 3 weeks.” The rest as they say was history. At our annual Glam night events, we provide organic, wheat free, and gluten-free meals to the Domestic Violence Community. We also provide glam bags to them as well, from our sponsors. In addition, we provide free makeovers, clothing, and shoes when survivors are preparing for court, along with job interviews and mediation meetings. We also provide music to Domestic Violence shelters in the Los Angeles Community. We are grateful for the community’s support.
ML: Tell me about your husband now and how he’s changed your life?
KS: My husband saved my life. We were best friends for a long time and fell in love over the phone. He lived in a different state and we grew together, while being miles apart. He eventually moved to Los Angeles and we became us. He allowed me to be me. He gave me an opportunity to allow me to express my freedom, while being in a relationship. My husband has absolutely no expectations of me, and that’s what allowed me to find my one true love of my life. He never has, never does, and never will judge me. It’s pure love. We have deep and open communication and we emphatically trust one another. We are deeply and truly in love. It has only gotten better. He is the only man whom I’ve ever trusted in such a way. He is well read, well taught, and well-educated. I do not mean in an academic capacity (which he is); the life component is what I’m referring to. I love everything about him, but the one thing that has always stood out, is that my husband is the same in public as he is in private…and that is a rarity these days. He is my rock.
ML: Advice you give other people in abusive relationships?
KS: I don’t really have advice. These relationships have caused people to lose their lives. I would hate to believe that someone could lose their life over advice, that wasn’t applicable to their situation. However, if you need a safe haven, resources or an escape plan, then the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Website or the National Domestic Violence Hotline, Website are wonderful resources. If you are in a situation that is unsafe and detrimental to your well-being, always call 911. I did and it saved my life.
Written by: Bullies Keep Out Guest Writer Mark Leitao