I sent the following letter to him 3 weeks ago telling him about the abuse at the hands of our father. No reply has come…. so I guess that means he has chosen what kind of man he will be.
I hope you and the kids are doing well. I am writing because I haven’t been completely honest with you and I am trusting that our relationship is one that I can do just that.
I would like to be honest with you about what my life has been like since Dad started coming to my room at night when I was four (after he had passed out on the sofa from coming home drunk 4 times a week….mom’s words not mine) and sexually abusing me. At the age of 7 it progressed to him taking me on car rides where he would tell me he was teaching me what love was like and that I really wanted all that he was doing to me. On occasion when I would get up enough nerve to cry out and try to get out of reach he tied my hands up. The abuse seemed to never end, year after year after year. Finally, at the age of 10-11 the abuse stopped probably because I had reached an age that no longer “attracted” him. Do you know what this does to a child? I will forever have Complex PTSD, depression, and anxiety because of him. I have flash-backs, nightmares, and physical pain because of all he did to me. If I don’t have medication I do not sleep through the night. As a little girl I had to wait in my bed…waiting, knowing when he stood up from the sofa that he would be coming to hurt and haunt me. No amount of counseling will take away all the effects that the abuse has had on me. Can you imagine being an adult having panic attacks just because you are in a certain part of your own house? That is what it is like for me in our bedroom and any bathroom. I have had many many years of counseling just to help me deal with life, being a parent, a wife, and a friend.
I have had to learn boundaries because our family didn’t have any. I was taught instead that my body belongs to others not me. I was taught that I am in the world to please others, never myself. I was taught my pain wasn’t worth being seen, heard, or attended to. My being was not worth respect or love. As I walk on this healing journey I have learned how to set boundaries and to stand up for myself. One of those was to set the boundary with our parents that if they want a relationship with me they would need to acknowledge the abuse and work on having a healthy relationship. Unfortunately, they have no interest in working on a real relationship. Even when Mom’s own counselor in Roanoke told her she was in denial about Dad molesting me Mom still refused to help her daughter and chose AGAIN to protect the molester. There is a quote that I have grown to love. It comes from a book about the trauma of child abuse.
“It is morally impossible to remain neutral for those that bear witness to conflict between the victim and the perpetrator. The bystander is forced to take sides. It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden or pain. The victim demands action, engagement and remembering. After every atrocity one can expect to hear the same predictable apologies: it never happened, the victim lies, the victim exaggerates, the victim brought it on herself.”
After one of the car rides that Dad took me on in order to sexually attack me, I came home with my legs and insides feeling as if they were on fire. The inside of my legs felt completely raw from what he had done. When he and I walked into the house, Mom and you were sitting on the floor playing. Mom asked why I was walking funny. Dad spoke up quickly saying I had fallen but was his “little trooper”. Mom never asked me how it happened, how I was feeling, etc. Of course I wasn’t crying, I had already learned my cries were never answered. Mom decided it was safer for her not to know what was happening. I was thrown into the lion’s den and left alone with no one to protect or love me.
So you have a choice to believe me and stand by me or choose to do nothing and support the abuser. What kind of man will you choose to be?
At the bottom of the letter I hand wrote “I know this letter may sound angry, and I guess I am at dad, but not at you. I have some really good memories of you and I playing together in the drainage ditch behind our house and smearing mulberries on our skin to play cowboys and Indians. I have missed you and hope we can talk soon.”