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How Kate's Shining Moment on 'This Is Us' Helped Me as a Trauma Survivor

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Editor's Note

If you’ve experienced domestic violence or emotional abuse, sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering.

You can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

You can contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline online by selecting “chat now” or calling 1-800-799-7233.

You can also contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

If you’re a committed fan of the television show “This Is Us,” then you’re already aware that the series is full of deep, emotional moments. The series has tackled hard-hitting topics like alcoholism, grief, racism and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) over the past five seasons. However, I don’t think any of us predicted the shining moment for Kate that occurred in Tuesday night’s episode titled “A Long Road Home.”

• What is PTSD?

Until the most recent season, it seemed like most of Kate Pearson’s (Chrissy Metz) struggles with binge eating and obesity stemmed from the tragic loss of her father, Jack (Milo Ventimiglia). As the episodes of season 5 began to air, though, we started to see another possible cause of Kate’s emotional eating, namely her unresolved feelings surrounding a six-month relationship with the “cool” record store employee Marc (Austin Abrams).

Throughout the five episodes of season 5 thus far, we all got front-row seats into so much more than a simple teenage romance gone bad between Kate and Marc. In fact, with each new episode, more facts set the stage for what Kate’s brothers already seemed to know: Marc was an abusive boyfriend.

These uncovered memories of late-90s Kate and Marc really resonated with me, as I’m sure they resonated with other survivors of abusive relationships. And although we never see Marc physically harm Kate, we see him do plenty of other terrible things. He verbally abuses her, toys with her emotions, body-shames her, and gaslights her so often that she completely loses touch with reality within the relationship. Even though Kate does eventually get out (obviously, since we’ve spent every season watching her relationship with Toby evolve), we learn that the end of the relationship with Marc carried even more weight — an abortion.

But that’s not the shining moment that made me cry; that moment came when modern-day Kate confronted Marc face-to-face to say her piece.

Kate’s assertiveness and poise sent chills down my spine as she told Marc exactly what happened all those years ago. As Kate shares exactly how Marc preyed upon her, she says, “You held my self-esteem in your hands, and you decided to crush it.” She ends by calling Marc “a disease” and says that she refuses to carry that toxicity around any longer. Kate’s shining moment is exactly the type of closure that many of us who left abusive relationships dream of. It was a victory in many ways for Kate, and ultimately a victory for survivors everywhere.

Reclaiming yourself from your abuser is a major milestone on the road to recovery, especially if the trauma of your past continues to plague your everyday life in the way it impacted Kate.

In my own life, my past trauma has led me down so many destructive paths, much like Kate’s destructive relationship with food and her own self-sabotage that causes her decades of sadness and broken dreams. It’s also changed the entire way I view the world and made it all but impossible for me to truly trust anyone.

In the aftermath of Kate and Marc’s outdoor encounter, we see Kate literally beaming with relief and pride during the ride home. It’s a relief that I hope to experience myself someday — as soon as I process my trauma enough to relinquish those diseased memories that aren’t truly mine to carry.

In fact, I hope that someday all of us out there who endured emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse can find ways to relinquish the “disease” of our trauma and experience that glowing relief that Kate discovered. Because, even if you don’t believe it just yet, we all deserve that feeling of release.

For more thoughts on “This Is Us,” check out these stories from our community.

Image via YouTube

Originally published: January 6, 2021
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