It doesn't matter where you live, everyone can learn from Humans of New York's diverse and oftentimes emotional stories.
Brandon Stanton, the photographer behind these raw posts, proved this during a recent trip to Russia, where a young woman opened up about her decision to leave an abusive relationship. Her experience is not only one that many women can relate to, but it's also an example of strength for others who are starting to realize that they're no longer in a healthy relationship.
The woman from St. Petersburg shared that she was with her partner for nine years and gradually during that time, she had grown completely dependent on him. "He was a strong and powerful man and he expected obedience," she shared with Humans of New York. "If he called me at 4 a.m. and told me to meet him in Moscow, I was expected to go to the train station."
According to this woman, her partner had a "very strong" energy, and it was difficult for her to argue with him. "In the beginning of the relationship, I obeyed because of the pressure," she said. "But then the pressure just became a habit."
The unhealthy dynamic only got worse as time passed until the boyfriend stopped listening to her entirely and she found herself feeling completely alone. "When you're with someone who doesn't care about your views, and has no desire to understand you, it's worse than being alone," she said.
Yet, like many in her situation, she still loved this man and found herself rationalizing away his actions. "I knew that he'd had a hard life," she said. "I told myself that I had to make sacrifices to build a family."
However, she finally reached her breaking point, and one morning, she woke up and decided that she couldn't do it anymore. "If I stayed in the relationship, I would lose myself completely," she said. "I remember it was raining that morning. There was mud in the streets. And something told me: 'Today is the day.'"
That was two years ago, and in those days and months since she made this crucial decision, this woman has learned an incredibly important lesson: she's not alone. "I'm realizing the things that I like to do. I feel better, I look better, and I've been sharing more of myself with others," she said. "I feel like I'm finally learning who I am."
If you or someone you know is in danger, there are resources available in your state, as well as the 24/7 National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233). Know that you are not alone and that staying is not your only option.