Today I'm thinking about domestic violence. I'm a survivor of four years of this incredibly terrible, damaging, terrifying phenomenon, so I feel qualified to have an opinion about it. I don't believe that ANY woman 'wants' to be hit. I no longer scoff and say, "Why doesn't she just leave?" I don't think a domestic violence victim is a fool, or stupid, or blind. I think it's a sneaky, gradual, ever-consuming cloud of evil that looks so innocent at the beginning, but over time thrusts its victim into the darkest, loneliest, scariest place she could ever imagine.So I made up, a la David Letterman, some lists today. You know, the Top Ten Reasons... type of thing. I'm not making light of domestic violence with these lists. On the contrary, I'm acknowledging that, when you are in the middle of it, there are some seemingly valid reasons to stay. And confirming that, even when all seems hopeless, there are truly valid reasons to get out. NOW.The Top Ten Reasons To Stay:10. He's really, really sorry. You're the last person in the world he wants to hurt.9. He didn't mean to hit you. It's just that you made him so mad, he couldn't help himself.8. You can't afford to leave.7. If you would only do (insert any activity here) better, it would all be fine.6. He's just stressed out and doesn't have anyone else to take it out on.5. When he's not hitting you, he really is such a nice man.4. He's the father of your children.3. You really, really love him.2. It's not his fault; his parents abused him.And the number one reason to stay: 1. If you try to leave, he will kill you.The Top Ten Reasons to Leave:10. He's not going to stop hitting you. And he might start hitting your kids.9. There are real men in this world who wouldn't dream of hitting you.8. Your children shouldn't see you being treated like this.7. It's not you. It's him. He has a problem.6. It's not going to stop. Ever. He's going to keep hitting you.5. Your daughter will think it's okay for her man to hit her.4. Your son will think it's okay to hit his wife.3. You are a strong, independent woman who should be treated like a goddess.2. There are people out there who can help you get a new, safe life. And the number one reason to leave: 1. If you don't leave, eventually you will die.
I'll end with one last thought: once you get the strength to leave, for the rest of your life every day will seem like the most amazing gift from the universe.