Why don’t you leave him, love? I know there’s not a thing in the world I could say that’ll make you leave him. But how much is enough? I know you feel helpless. I know you feel like you’re slowly suffocating. I know you feel ashamed and embarrassed, because this is not you. The young woman on the floor getting kicked in the stomach could never be you. But yet somehow you wake up the next morning with his Timberland bootprint bruise on your skin. How have you gotten to this point, you ask yourself. How can you let someone treat you this way? What you don’t understand yet is that you have nothing to be ashamed of, love. The shame and guilt is his to bear. I know some days you wake up feeling numb. I know the only thing keeping you alive is your son. And I know you sleep with a knife under your bed. I know about all of it, love. How you’ve started to believe him. The words he throws at you weigh a ton each. And you believe him when he tells you you’re nothing. Because that’s what you’ve been made to believe growing up. But the shame was never yours, love. I know you’re scared. I know he’s made you feel guilty for wanting to leave, told you you’d be breaking up a happy home. A beautiful family. You can’t leave, he says. You can’t do that to our son, he tells you. What kind of mother are you? But know this, love, he’s the one destroying the family. And he’s masterfully skilled, he’s been manipulating his way through life. I know you’re exhausted. But I also know there’s life inside you. So much life and strength. You’re a fighter, you just don’t know it. Nobody ever told you. You and your son will be alright. You will thrive without him. And your son will have morals and values and integrity. Having no father figure is better than having a bad one. I know you’re not ready to leave. But when you decide to go, I’ll be here, love. And I know you can hear me. You hear me every time you look at your son while he’s sleeping. You hear me every time you wake up with a new bruise. Do you know what that is? That’s your first small step in the right direction. It’s ok if it takes time. Good things usually do. When you’re ready I’m here, love.

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