- Posted by Anna Bard
- On February 9, 2017
People Magazine Online/February 2017
In 2005, Sarah McClarey woke up in a domestic violence shelter on Valentine’s Day and decided that she needed to feel some beauty and love.
Determined to celebrate her freedom after being beaten and verbally abused for four years, the Chicago mom of two went out to a flower shop after breakfast and bought herself a dozen long-stemmed red roses.
“I was so happy to bring this beautiful living thing into the shelter because those flowers represented life and hope,” McClarey, 34, tells PEOPLE. “I was in a better place — good things were ahead of me. He couldn’t beat me any more or tell me that I was nothing. On that Valentine’s Day, I felt power and optimism for the first time in years.”
In the years afterward, as she resettled her children into an apartment in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, and pursued a career in information technology, McClarey continued to buy herself roses every Valentine’s Day.