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She was just a little girl when her brother did these things. Now she's dying and she wrote him a letter.

Sexual and physical abuse affects far too many children, and it haunts those children as they become adults. One dying woman's last wish is for her brother to see her letter so he might forgive himself, or at least know that she forgave him. While in this case she chose not to report him, that is clearly her choice and not suitable for every situation. TRIGGER WARNING: This is an open, personal letter from a woman who experienced ongoing sexual and physical abuse as a child. It doesn't delve into graphic detail, but it may still be upsetting to readers. Please use your judgment before reading.

She was just a little girl when her brother did these things. Now she's dying and she wrote him a letter.

Dear brother,

It has taken four years to call you my brother. In my 7383 days of existence, I have lived through 2920 days of calling you monster. Do you remember? Do you remember how it began? It was a game. You invited me into your small blanket fort and told me you were going to protect me from monsters. Little did I know that you were one of them. I played the charade of "show me yours and I'll show you mine" only to be poked at as curiosity struck through your mind and body. Gradually your game became more and more complex. I can still remember being told, "shhhh, this is our little secret." 2920 days of my life gone.


After 365 days I remember being told that kissing was something kids do. 2920 days of my life gone.

After 730 days it became laying in a dark corner as you felt some sort of pleasure in seeing me bare. You enjoyed my shame and found some sort of sick happiness in your idea of a game. 2920 days of my life gone.

After 1095 days I was 11 and began to have older friends who had boyfriends and this was when I knew you were wrong. I felt wronged and told you it wasn't right. From then on you blamed me and said it was my fault. You accused me of somehow starting it all. I can remember countless days of being locked up in my closet. Countless days of being hit in the face whenever I didn't listen. Countless doctor appointments with the excuse of "I fell." Countless broken bones. Several dislocated joints. Everyone thought I was just clumsy. If only they knew. 2920 days of my life gone.

On day 2898 I became sick. I was throwing up every morning. I began to feel different. Mom thought it was strep. Dad thought it was a bad case of the flu. Oh, but you knew. You walked me to the clinic and that was that. On day 2920 you left and never came back. You disappeared. No one knew where you were.

On my 17th birthday I saw you in Chicago. I followed you for quite some time. Thought about all the ways I could hurt you back. You were with another woman and oh my heart wanted to rip to shreds because she didn't know the agony you put me through. I could have hurt you but I chose to walk away.

It has been three years since I've seen you. And there's something I've gotta say.

Thank you.

Because of you I lived. I survived. I am a fighter. I made it through. All those times you felt strong because I looked weak. Well look at me now. I made it to nearly hell and back. Here I am. I am not a victim anymore. I am a victor. Those 2920 days taught me to be brave. To do hard things. To not run from harm. I am who I am today because of who you were.

I know who you are. I have kept tabs on you. You don't have to drink or do drugs. You don't have to harm yourself because of the guilt you feel. You were my monster but the game is over. You can be my brother. You don't have to be a monster for your whole life. You can be better.

I could have reported you but I chose to forgive you. So here I am. Forgiveness is yours if you take it.

Life is short. I am sick. And for me, my timespan is shortened. But I am fighting to live, each day fighting my disease because that's how 2920 days of my life made all the difference. I will not give up. The dark days in dark corners only give me more motivation to fight.

I'm getting more sick and weaker each day but I wanted to forgive you now and I hope this reaches you. I want my brother back and only hope you can forgive yourself enough to move past the guilt in order to have your sister back in your life.

Your sister,

-C

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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