Saskatchewan

She lost her foot to amputation, but found her voice to speak about domestic violence

For so long, Kerry Benjoe imagined the worst thing that could happen to her was losing her foot. She never imagined that an amputation could give her something in return, not only her life and mobility back, but the ability to speak out about domestic violence.

Reporter Kerry Benjoe says she's been encouraged to keep speaking about her experiences

Kerry Benjoe is finding her way back to a life with mobility, after undergoing an amputation of her foot and part of her leg last October. She's since learning to move and walk with a prosthetic. (CBC News)

For so long, Kerry Benjoe imagined the worst thing that could happen to her was losing her foot. She never imagined that an amputation could give her something in return, not only her life and mobility back, but a voice for herself.  

"I was so used to being behind the scenes," said Benjoe, who worked as a reporter for the Regina Leader-Post. "I told many stories of other powerful women that I admired and I never thought that this would be my story.

"But at the same time, I know, I understand the importance of telling a story. And for some reason, I was given this one."

That story includes her experience of domestic violence, something Benjoe said she kept to herself for a long time.

"Domestic violence is so prevalent in this province that I think everybody knows somebody who's been impacted," she said, adding the problem is no one wants to talk about it, or would rather believe as though it's only monsters that would abuse a partner. 

"But it's people — it's a friend, it's a brother, an uncle, your best friend."

Now, she's sharing her experiences with other women, and will also be talking to a men's group in Regina this week.

"Something good has to come out of this," she said. "And if it involves me having to pretty much expose myself to the world and let them know that this happened to me, then so be it."

A bad break

Benjoe said her foot was injured roughly four years ago when she was pushed from behind. Her foot broke at the arch and never properly healed, and doctors warned over time that an amputation might be necessary.

"I thought I'd rather die than lose my foot because I thought my life would be over once I lost my leg," she said.

To the world, she presented her best face, a person that loved to dress up, to wear beautiful shoes and clothes, a professional.

On the inside, she grappled with constant, exhausting pain.

She faced her demons in 2018, in what she describes as a "horrible, horrific year," living in a shelter with her child, and having no income. It was also the year in which doctors would tell her she had run out of all options but to have an amputation.

They reassured her she was a good candidate for a prosthetic, and that she would regain her balance and mobility over time.

Kerry Benjoe says while she's still adjusting to life after a below-the-knee amputation, she's looking forward to being able to be the grandmother she wants to be to her grandson. (Submitted by Kerry Benjoe)

"The only thing I could think of was that I had already lost out on almost two years of being able to play with my grandson and do all the normal things that a grandmother could do or should do," she said.

"I was simply tired of the pain."

While she's struggled with the loss of her foot, she's gained a new perspective over time, and an unexpected strength the first time she stood upright with the use of a prosthetic.

It was just like being reborn again.- Kerry Benjoe , on getting a prosthetic

"It was just so amazing and I never felt so tall in my life. I felt like I was like six feet tall," she said, explaining that was when she knew she had made the right decision. "It was just like being reborn again."

Her amputation also helped her decide she was done with carrying the shame of domestic violence. Since she's opened up and shared her story, women have shared their own experiences with domestic violence, and encouraged her not to remain silent.  

"There was a reason, I was given this story and for me to ignore it is not honouring the story," she said.

"I feel a sense of responsibility now to keep talking because I've started the conversation."

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