MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — WCCO studios are draped in purple to represent the fight against domestic violence in our Trees of Hope campaign.

SafeJourney is a small nonprofit that offers 24/7 in-person support for anyone who does not feel safe at home.

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One of the volunteers with the group is Mary Katherine, who got out of an abusive relationship after 25 years.

She is now a mosaic artist, living peacefully in an undisclosed part of Minnesota.

“It’s nice to lose yourself for a few hours,” Mary Katherine said.

This is from a woman who feels she has finally found herself after 25 years of marriage.

“I had no voice, I only did what he wanted and I did it, just to survive,” she said.

Mary Katherine says her husband controlled her life; bursting into fits of rage over a nick in the car, shaming female servers to tears on their dinner dates, making fun of her weight and controlling her money.

“It was like enough with the pretending, I’m going to end this abuse once and for all,” she said.

She decided to call SafeJourney, which operates out of North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale. They assign an advocate to anyone who needs help getting out for good.

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“If it wasn’t for SafeJourney, honestly, I wouldn’t be here,” Mary Katherine said. “I would have taken those pills because like a lot of women in that situation, I just wanted it to end.”

Instead she made an escape. She had made a brief one before, but this time SafeJourney helped her hire movers. They hid down the street as she and her dog executed the detailed plan. A bodyguard was also hired for her protection during to process.

“I got up really early, got into his phone, erased all my family’s phone numbers because I didn’t want him calling or trying to get to them, I erased all my phone numbers,” she said.

After her husband of two-and-a-half decades left for work, she was out in two hours. SafeJourney even helped her find a secret place to rent.

“I was left in this townhome and for the first time in my life, I was so happy, it was like I had broken free of prison and I was no longer in that prison,” Mary Katherine said.

Since that day, she has created a new life. An attorney who works with SafeJourney helped her through the divorce. She is selling her art to benefit other abuse victims. She is strong, and she is now safe.

“I don’t think I’ve ever felt so much joy,” she said.

SafeJourney provides 24/7 support for anyone who calls and does not feel safe. Any donation goes a long way. A safety kit costs about $100 to assemble, which includes a new cellphone and gift cards for gas and groceries.

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If you would like to help them with those kits, or find out more about what SafeJourney does, click here. And click here to visit WCCO’s Accomplish MN page.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield