Why do people stay in abusive relationships? This heartbreaking analogy helps explain.

Chloe Dykstra has spoken out about the painful reality of being in an abusive relationship.

In a post on Medium in June 2018, beloved gamer, actress, model, and cosplayer Dykstra wrote about the harrowing experience of being in a long-term abusive relationship.

"One day, I met someone at a convention and ended up falling for a man almost 20 years my senior," Dykstra wrote. "It wasn't the first time I'd found myself in a relationship with an older man; I've always joked about my daddy issues, and thought that with age came stability and wisdom. Welp."


From there, Dykstra details the horrors of that relationship. Within the first two weeks, she was isolated from her friends, given a curfew, and told not to speak in public.

Quickly, the relationship turned into one of fear — "I was terrified to piss him off — so I did what he said," she wrote — and then became assaultive. Dykstra revealed she developed an eating disorder. Then, when she suffered an ectopic pregnancy and either had to have surgery or risk death, she said her fear of having to tell her partner she was pregnant was stronger than her fear of death.

Chloe Dykstra. Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

Dykstra is shining an important light on why people stay in abusive relationships.

When people learn of an abusive relationship, the common question that surfaces is "If it was so bad, why didn't you just leave?" The answer to this question is complex in general and often has nothing to do with a person's strength. Often, it doesn't even seem like there's a choice.

Dykstra's answer to this question paints a painful picture of why escaping an abusive relationship can feel impossible:

"I believed that, to borrow an analogy from a friend, if I kept digging I would find water. And sometimes I did. Just enough to sustain me. And when you're dying of thirst, that water is the best water you'll ever drink. When you're alienated from your friends, there's no one to tell you that there's a drinking fountain 20 feet away. And when your self-worth reaches such depths after years of being treated like you're worthless, you might find you think you deserve that sort of treatment, and no one else will love you."

Her story has clearly resonated with people far and wide.

Dykstra's main goals were to create closure and warn others about how surprisingly common abuse can be. According to The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, more than 10 million people are abused by an intimate partner annually. On an average day, approximately 20,000 calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines.

The stigma of being trapped in an abusive relationship is slowly disappearing. The overwhelming support Dykstra has been shown is a sign that progress is moving in the right direction — but there's so much work yet to to be done.

President Biden/Twitter, Yamiche Alcindor/Twitter

In a year when the U.S. saw the largest protest movement in history in support of Black lives, when people of color have experienced disproportionate outcomes from the coronavirus pandemic, and when Black voters showed up in droves to flip two Senate seats in Georgia, Joe Biden entered the White House with a mandate to address the issue of racial equity in a meaningful way.

Not that it took any of those things to make racial issues in America real. White supremacy has undergirded laws, policies, and practices throughout our nation's history, and the ongoing impacts of that history are seen and felt widely by various racial and ethnic groups in America in various ways.

Today, President Biden spoke to these issues in straightforward language before signing four executive actions that aim to:

- promote fair housing policies to redress historical racial discrimination in federal housing and lending

- address criminal justice, starting by ending federal contracts with for-profit prisons

- strengthen nation-to-nation relationships with Native American tribes and Alaskan natives

- combat xenophobia against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, which has skyrocketed during the pandemic

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

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via WFTV

Server Flavaine Carvalho was waiting on her last table of the night at Mrs. Potatohead's, a family restaurant in Orlando, Florida when she noticed something peculiar.

The parents of an 11-year-old boy were ordering food but told her that the child would be having his dinner later that night at home. She glanced at the boy who was wearing a hoodie, glasses, and a face mask and noticed a scratch between his eyes.

A closer look revealed a bruise on his temple.

So Carvalho walked away from the table and wrote a note that said, "Do you need help?" and showed it to the boy from an angle where his parents couldn't see.

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via TikTok

Menstrual taboos are as old as time and found across cultures. They've been used to separate women from men physically — menstrual huts are still a thing — and socially, by creating the perception that a natural bodily function is a sign of weakness.

Even in today's world women are deemed unfit for positions of power because some men actually believe they won't be able to handle stressful situations while mensurating.

"Menstruation is an opening for attack: a mark of shame, a sign of weakness, an argument to keep women out of positions of power,' Colin Schultz writes in Popular Science.

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