To the boy who loves her after abuse,

It is hardly fair for me to call you a boy, because what you are doing is not something worthy of a child. Your job is going to be a difficult one: you will be a friend, a confidant, a crying shoulder, a protector, and sometimes even a punching bag for frustration, mistrust, and fear. Your heart will break for her as you help to pick up the pieces. Your blood will boil as she recounts the toxicity and abuse that she endured prior to your presence. You will try to break down the walls that she has built, sometimes more successfully than others. Some days will be a fairy tale, and some will be as challenging as scaling Everest. She is wounded, she is imperfect, and she may not love herself as much as she should. This is where you come in.

You must learn her. You must relish in the good days and save those moments in the back of your mind like a Polaroid snapshot for when things get hard. You must be patient on the bad days; sometimes there are no words to fix her, as only time and a gentle embrace can help to ease the pain. You must be understanding, and in order to love and accept her, you must love and accept yourself, not only as a partner, but as an individual. You are a valiant warrior, a man who can not only prove that he is strong and capable of love, but that he is equipped to show her that she is beautiful and worthy. Of course, she must learn this on her own as well, and at her own pace, but will do so with the teammate and partner that you will be.

But if you are brave and willing to accept this challenge, you will often find that underneath the tough, broken, and nervous exterior is a beautiful butterfly of a woman. It may not be easy to gain her trust, but believe me, it'll be worth it when you do. She will love you fiercely, she will love you loyally, and she will appreciate you endlessly. She will cry in your arms, sometimes out of sadness, and sometimes from pure joy and praise. You will be learning and growing together, creating a life built on a strong foundation of understanding, communication, and kindness. She has seen the pain of the past, but in your eyes, she will see the hope that is the future.

A word to the wise, this responsibility is not for the faint of heart. But at the end of the day, your love for her will not make this responsibility seem like a burden, but rather a gift. Just as you will be a guardian angel for her, you will see that she was also placed in your life for a reason. So, for everything that you do and will continue to do, you deserve the utmost thanks, although you may not believe it or want it. Thank you for letting her thrive, for letting her trust again, for always standing by her side, and for showing her that real love shouldn't hurt.