I wrote a letter to a woman being abused, and now I feel kind of sick about it.

There's been a thing happening that makes me sick to my stomach, and it's been happening as a result of something we posted on Upworthy. Something that happened to me. Before I delve into it fully, you need to know: I'm a domestic abuse survivor. I left more than seven years ago, and the ways in which I've changed and my whole life has changed as a result of it are countless.

Years ago, when I lived in New York, I could hear my neighbor being, at the very least, verbally abused by her husband. I didn't know what to do to help, but I couldn't do nothing. I have always been a writer, so I wrote her a letter. I dropped it off when her husband wasn't home.

Fast-forward to four years later, and we're experimenting with some long form text at Upworthy to see if readers like it, so I decided to let my coworker publish said letter, which has long been dormant on my former website. The recipient has been kept anonymous, and the letter could be to anybody being abused.


The response was huge. Comments were filled with people wishing someone had given them a letter like that when they were in that situation and wanting to know what happened to the neighbor. There was a melange of other comments too, positive and negative.

But then the private messages started coming in. To me.

There was one from a man who said it described to a T the way his ex-wife had treated him; the experience left him emotionally scarred. There were multiple letters from women in varying types of abusive relationships. Many of them wanted to thank me because they finally realized they had to leave.

I felt punched in my gut. I feel it every time, because I care very much about victims becoming survivors and having a happy ending like I did. I responded to each of those messages, but the struggle to find the right balance of words weighed on me heavily. It was important to reinforce each person's sense of self and their right to be safe, respected, and happy. But I also had a huge responsibility not to bullshit them — to make sure they knew they were about to embark on the most dangerous leg of their journey.

You see, when abuse victims die at the hands of their abusers, it's most often when they leave.*

*This doesn't at all mean you shouldn't leave. But it does mean you should take whatever steps possible to protect yourself.

I can tell you from experience that if they make it out alive, they have months to years of emotional and physical recovery, all exacerbated to the extent that the abuser remains in their lives for the purpose of kids or shared assets. That's not even touching on the financial aspect of getting out of an abusive relationship.

What I'm saying is: There are seemingly insurmountable hills to climb.

If you're being abused, getting away from your abuser is definitely the endgame. But you should also have some straight talk about how many different ways from Sunday it will be difficult so you can prepare yourself as best as possible before you go.

Here are some things I did that you can try:

  • If you can save money and secure all the access/paperwork you need to any assets, shared or not, do it.
  • If you can have your escape plan aided by trusted friends, family, or even a police escort, do so.
  • If you can get in touch with a domestic violence resource locally, that's best.

But if you are in a dangerous emergency situation and you need to leave with kids in tow and/or the clothes on your back but no plan, getting out alive is better than not getting out at all.

Use an app like the one I'll link to below, or text a code phrase to someone you've arranged to be on high alert for you. You can take the other things step by step later, with the help of the aforementioned resources.

And if it takes you several tries to leave for good, there is no shame in that. There is nothing etched in stone saying that because you went back once or even five times that now it means you've gotta stay. This is hard stuff — actually, it's the challenge of your life. This hill is a Sisyphus-style hill. Sometimes the rock rolls back to the bottom and you start all over again.

I'll be straight with you: Despite my personal experience, I'm not a professional domestic violence counselor. I can't advise you on how to handle your particular exit strategy. But if you've found that flicker of spirit left inside of you that knows you deserve better than what you're living, then I have a responsibility to make sure you have a full picture.

Before I go take some antacid for the ulcer this critical matter is giving me, please know that I have a ton of resources and links for you down below. And those (besides having shared my own story a bit) are the best, most useful things I can give you. For anybody struggling to leave an abuser right now, let me leave you with this:

You have the most difficult (and dangerous!) time in front of you. But please keep faith in yourself that if you just keep going with your plan to leave and stay away, your life can become full and rich again, and the pain you experienced with this person will eventually be a distant memory. Your life will again be full of possibility! You have all my faith and strength behind you — just keep going.
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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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