As my family sits around me at the kitchen table, watching the Macy’s Day Parade and drinking coffee, I begin to tear up. While everyone is generally thankful for their family, I can’t help but remember on this day how much I have because of those close to me—namely, my life.
Five years ago, almost to the day, I broke up with my abusive ex boyfriend. From that moment on, my family became my source of life—my breath, my motivation, my safety. They picked me up when I couldn’t stand, they gave me what I needed even if they didn’t understand why, and, most importantly, they believed me when nobody else would.
In no scenario would I have survived the abuse without the help of my family. To them I owe my health, my well-being, and my survivorship. To them, I can never say thank you enough. To them, I will give my love eternally and unconditionally. They deserve nothing less.
When someone becomes a victim to abuse, violence, or manipulation, it is no longer up to them to save themselves. It is up to those around that person to help, because not a soul on this earth can survive something like this alone. It is no longer the responsibility of the fifteen-year-old girl to save herself because she is simply incapable—no fifteen-year-old should be capable of surviving horrific circumstances alone. Support from family and close loved ones is the driving force behind the transition from broke to healed, from victim to survivor. My family fulfilled what I was too powerless to accomplish, and for that I am eternally thankful.
To my father: I thank you for pushing past the fear and helping me anyways. I thank you for giving without questioning, and giving much, much more than you yourself ever had in the first place. I thank you for never losing hope that I would survive.
To my mother: I thank you for understanding that it’s okay to not understand. I thank you for reminding me what it meant to be unconditionally loved. I thank you for grieving with me, and healing with me, too.
To my sister: I thank you for unapologetically becoming a survivor, too, and showing me what it meant to be a true survivor. I thank you for always reminding me to exhale, to laugh, and to smile. I thank you for being the reason I never gave up.
And to all the survivors out there: I thank you for not letting the bad guy win. I thank you for encouraging me to believe that there is a way out. I thank you for surviving, and for paving the way for other survivors to do the same.