Domestic violence is a huge problem in the United States. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 20 people are physically abused by an intimate partner every single minute. That's 10 million women and men every year.
A 7-year-old Texas boy and his mother recently found themselves temporarily living in SafeHaven of Tarrant County, an emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence.
It was at the shelter that the boy's mother found a handwritten letter to Santa in his backpack.
She shared the heartbreaking letter with SafeHaven's president and CEO Kathryn Jacob, who asked if they could share it on social media.
SafeHaven posted the letter on Facebook, writing: "Blake is a 7-year-old boy in one of our shelters, and his mom found this letter to Santa in his backpack a few weeks ago."
The letter reads:
We had to leave our house. Dad was mad. We had to do all the chores. Dad got everything he wanted. Mom said it was time to leave and she would take us to a safer place where we don't have to be scared."
"I'm still nervous. I don't want to talk to the other kids. Are you going to come this Christmas? We don't have any of our stuff here. Can you bring some chapter books, a dictionary, and a compass and a watch? I also want a very very very good dad. Can you do that too?
The post received plenty of attention online, with SafeHaven explaining that they'd be getting Blake the items he asked for.
"Blake's story is like every story we see," Jacob told CNN. "The problem is so pervasive."
"I think adult victims of domestic violence are thoughtful and strategic -- I know they do the safest thing for themselves and their children. We may not understand that completely, but I think that's why they typically don't want to interrupt their child's academic life, so they do that when there's a break from school."
As of Wednesday, the shelter is housing 74 children and 45 women. At maximum capacity, then can house 164 people. On average, families will stay anywhere from 8-10 weeks before they're given a safe discharge plan.
"The people who have said that they've experienced this ... that has been stunning to me," Jacob said. "And I'm in this world. [It's] so many people."
Commenters were saddened by the letter, with one user writing: "Just as I was having a really bad day at work and feeling sorry for myself I see this post. Puts things in perspective. I'm actually crying for this child but I am glad he is in a safe place for Christmas. I'm praying for everyone who's in the same situation but hasn't found their safe place yet."
While another added: "Children should not go through this. It breaks my heart when parents don’t care about their fleshing blood. Thank You God for places like SafeHaven."