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A letter to an abuser

The following letter was shared with me by a courageous survivor.  Her decision to share with all of you is with the hope you will find connection and inspiration.  Just the act of writing a letter to an abuser can be incredibly healing.  You don't even have to send it.  Making the decision to confront an abuser is a very individual decision. It may be helpful to discuss the desire with a professional as there are many factors to consider.

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Just the mere fact that I have to write this letter makes me sick. As now an adult and mother I recognise better than ever just how wrong it was. It makes me sick NOT because I felt shame and guilt towards what went on, NOT because of all the hard work I've had to and am still doing to heal from something that was completely out of MY control.... But because I have a feeling that this is something you rarely think about. Whilst you go on living your life I've been living in a prison. A prison YOU created! I was a child, a child in a very vulnerable place, YOU saw that and YOU chose to exploit it. I did make some poor decisions. Decisions I'm not proud of and I have had to process through them, yet I've come to the conclusion that I was a CHILD. A child who was put into a situation and making choices I should have never been in, in the first place. YOU did that to me. So regardless of my response and willingness to what YOU were doing ALL the fault and ALL the blame Belong to YOU. The adult in that situation. This letter is for nothing else but an act of healing for me, for you to see just what YOU did has affected my whole life. I'm not writing this to hurt you, or as an act of revenge. Quite frankly you mean nothing to me anymore. It is simply for ME. I'm trying to close the book on this and possibly open it for YOU. I WILL be okay. I am stronger than I've ever been and I am taking steps to heal. I am now letting go of..... Guilt that is NOT mine, Shame that doesn't belong to me and A secret that no longer serves me. You can deny it ever happening, how you deal with the horrible things you did is not my issue. We both know what happened over and over again, We both know you did things to a child that (albeit naively) loved and cared for you. That NO adult should have seen acceptable. I'm passing the inappropriate feelings of guilt, shame and pain back onto the person they belong to YOU!!!!!!! Do as you want with this letter, hide it, rip it up, deny it, show it to people. I don't mind I have NOTHING to hide. Just know I'm no longer trying to deny it happening, I'm no longer minimising it and I'm no longer ashamed to tell people, to be open and honest about what you did. Because I am NOT the person who should feel ashamed. I may still be dealing with the damage the abuse caused but the scars with heal. So I am handing back the guilt, shame, fear and secret. The guilts is ALL YOURS the shame is ALL YOURS and Your welcome to keep the secret. As I no longer own them.

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30 comments on “A letter to an abuser”

  1. This was very impactful to me because I couldn't even imagine telling my abuser how I feel. It's awesome that this person was able to.
    I still hold all the shame and guilt from what happened. Some days I think it is going to just consume me.
    Thank you for posting this. Helps me to keep in my mind that I might get there someday.

    1. Thanks for commenting Brandi. At the time this person shared her letter she had not sent it to him. I'm not sure if she has. The act of just writing the letter, without ever having to send it, can be incredibly therapeutic. You are not alone in not confronting your abuser. Most people don't.

      It's time to let go of the shame. It's not yours to carry. Shame is by far the most destructive aspect of sexual abuse. It is the core of the emotional difficulties and self-destructive behavior. It is also the most difficult aspect to heal. But, it's worth it and you deserve it!

      1. Thanks Peggy. I'm working on it with my therapist. I just didn't think it would be so hard. I keep telling myself I'm an adult not that little girl I can do this.....but it's difficult.
        I am going to talk to my therapist about maybe writing that letter.

    2. I just had to comment about how you said some days it feels like the shame and guilt will consume you. Wow I know exactly how that feels yet had never thought of it like that. I connot recommend more to think about just writing a letter like this, like Peggy said you don't have to send it, but it can help put things into a little perspective. I know that it was a huge turning point for me and my healing. And also help hand the guilt and shame back to the person it belongs too.

      1. Thanks so much Suzanne for commenting to Brandi. It's so healing to be able to connect to others who know how it feels.

  2. Nothing is more difficult than experiencing the betrayal and destruction of sexual abuse as a child, on your own...and your survived that. You can do this!

  3. Hi, Peggy. I am a survivor of child sexual abuse. I am in therapy, and have just read this blog post, and have, for quite some time, long before I came up on this website, I have been considering writing a letter to my abuser. If you could please email me about this, I would be so appreciative. Thanks!

    1. Hi Bobby. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I'd be happy to have you email me if you have a question regarding writing a letter, or anything else 😉 .

  4. It is the middle of the night and thoughts/memories of the extreme physical, sexual and emotional abuse i suffered throughout my childhood have driven me to the Internet looking for ways to help me deal with the pain. I can see now I do need to write a letter to my abuser(s) and even though i already know I will not send them, I am really hoping it brings some measure of healing. I am 56 years old on the outside but so many days, I still feel like a helpless, terrified child on the inside.
    The reason I would not send the letter to my father is that it would not do any good. He has no concept of guilt or remorse. He is so cold emotionally, he recently refused to see my adult son who had flown half way around fhe world to see him (his grandfather) and his father. My son offered to rent a car, drive from the airport, spend just an afternoon with him and leave. My father said no because that would interfere with his afternoon nap.
    For some resson, that rejection ot my son (and he claims it didnt hurt him but I lnow it did) has brought up feelings of anger and betrayal and many memories of abuse and I just don't know how to deal with it.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing with us, Jan. I'm glad you found us.

      Writing a letter you don't send can be just as powerful for healing as sending one. It can, however bring up a lot of feelings. I would encourage you to have some support as you process this experience. Unfortunately, for most people who actually send a letter they can end up feeling betrayed all over again.

      I think it makes sense that your father's behavior toward your son would bring up much more for you than it might him. It can be a really big trigger.

      I hope you've been able to get the help you deserve.

  5. What if I choose to send a letter? Are there things I need to consider, such as legalities or feelings I won't expect?

    1. Hi Katie,

      I apologize for the delay in my response. I realize my response may not be relevant to you at this point but will share just in case. In terms of potential legal concerns, I can't be sure. Though if you're just sharing your truth to the person who did this to you I can't imagine there would be any legal implications. I've known many people who've confronted their abuser and it's not been an issue. You could contact your local rape crisis center and speak to an advocate to get a clearer idea.

      In regards to feelings you may not expect, yes, there are myriad feelings that can arise and bring up a lot to work through. I typically suggest people do this with the support of a therapist for this reason. Even if it goes well it can bring up a lot.

  6. I am 63yrs old. I am currently in therapy for the sexual abuse that I suffered by the hands if my grandfather for over 10yrs. My therapist wants me to play- act confronting my grandfather. I don't have the words or the courage to do so at this time. Reading those letters are truly helpful in that the words spoken could have come from me. For that I thank you.

    1. Hi Janis,
      Thank you for taking the time to comment. I hope you've been able to find the healing you deserve. I'm glad the letter helped. I apologize for the delay in my response.

  7. Im a survivor of child sexual abuse i don't feel ashamed of what happened to me as a but im angry at my abuser,i cry most os the time unfortunately i cant seek help from a therapist im usually grumpy and have different personalities i have suffered abject missery....i know im not alone and i want to fight this for the sake of my fiance....i usually have flash back memories and never want to think about sex cause this happened to me for five years,i cant forgive my brother for what he did to me but many women are victims of this man no one has reported this😡

    1. Hi Kayla,

      Thank you for commenting. I apologize for the delay in responding. I hope you've been able to find the support you deserve. It's ok to be grumpy. No therapist would expect you to not struggle. <3

  8. Thank you for writing this. I have no memory of my own father molesting me. After many years (all of my years) of having this underlying sadness and depression over how distant and dismissive my father has been with me , I have been “soul searching”. Trying to find the answer to fix the way i felt. I just found out a week ago that my Dad molested me when I was 3 years old.
    I have had this weight lifted off of me, this constant wonder and worry and guilt and sadness and shame lifted off of me. At the same time, I feel dirty, used and disgusted that I have never consciously known this. I have two kids of my own, I thank God that my father has never really been around them. I am going to confront him. I just want my rolller coaster of emotions to steady so I can stand strong in front of him and tell him almost exactly what you have written. I will walk away and i will never have to see him or wonder about him again.

    1. Hi Erica,
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I apologize for the delay in responding. I know a lot has probably happened with you since writing this comment. How are you doing now? I hope you've found the support you need to help you on this journey of healing. You are not now, nor have you ever been dirty or disgusting. <3

  9. I was 2 when my parents got divorced. Had share parenting 1 week back and forth. 7-13 my dad was touching me. At 12 he raped me. He put stuff in my head. Threatening me so I don’t say anything. He knew I’m a mommas girl. So he tell me if I ever tell he kill my mom in front of me and then kill me. Now that I’m 18 with a better life me and my mom. My mom got re married when I was 11.. I consider them as my real blood family. They see the same. Got my last name changed. Non of my friends know what I went through because I’m not ready to share it. But I do share it if someone has and is going through what I was going through!

    1. Hi Ashton,
      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I apologize for the delay in responding. I'm so glad you've been able to make a better life for yourself. I hope you are able to find the healing you deserve.

  10. Reading this letter just after I wrote a letter to a person that abused me when I was five, helped me feel better about writing the letter. I am really struggling tonight and went out searching how to start a journal and write down how I feel. I wont send my letter, firstly I would serve no purpose and just add to my anxiety, but I know I will keep writing to the people that abused me as part of my journal. I want to proof to them that their is healing - even though I can't see it yet. Hopefully I can write a final letter to them that is no longer filled with anger, fear, guilt and shame, but a letter that is filled with - I am OK, I am thriving, not just surviving.

    1. Hi Fearnot, 😉
      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I apologize for the delay in responding. I'm glad you found this post helpful in your own process. The majority of healing that comes from writing the letter is in the writing itself. So, it's ok if you never send them. Keep writing. Keep journaling. <3

  11. Thank you for your letter ... I’m in therapy for abuse and was asked to write a letter when I stumbled on yours... well written .. all part of a journey of letting go our fears , anxiety to better ourselves .. all the best

    Arleene

  12. Thank you for sharing your story. As a survivor myself, I remember writing a letter to my abuser who was my brother. I didn't send it because I don't have his physical address. They say writing the letter to our abuser is putting the blame back on the person to whom it belongs, even if we don't send it. My therapist told me to do this as well burning it, i gave it to her an we burned it in her office.

    When I told my mom about what my brother did to me between the ages of 11-13, I was called a liar and disowned at that point. I had always said I had something that would destroy his life and he needs to keep his opinion to himself.

    In the last 2 years I have been back in contact with my mother. We don't discuss this at all. I’ve got to walk on eggs when talking to her cause of her health problems. I don't want to be the reason she kills over from a heart attack. She does have serious heart problems.

    I was diagnosed with MPD/DID at least 4 times. I wouldn't accept the diagnoses until I found a journal they kept after one of my serious OD's that did kill me and the Dr.'s had given up but my adopted sister told them to keep trying. They gave me 2 more zaps with the paddles and here I am.

    I had over 50 voices going off in my head 24/7, 365.I was blessed when I got a new Case Manager one day back in 1999. She found the greatest Therapist ever she had never worked with anyone who was diagnosed with, MPD/DID. After meeting me she went out and bought every book she could find on MPD/DID so she could read them an find out the best way of helping me.

    We started EMDR treatment, I met with her 3 times a week for an hour. Thanks to this amazing woman and treatment I got my life back. I started this in middle of October of 1999 by December 31,1999. All of my alter personalities integrated except for 3, my core who stayed the age she was when the abuse started 11 yrs. old (lilbren). Then we have adult Brenda who lived our life and was the bread winner until 1988. Then I Zulaikah came to be in 1988 as well. I'm the religious alter who keeps us grounded for the most part.

    I was the first person with the diagnoses MPD/DID to have ever been treated with EMDR back in 1999. Dr. Shapiro knows of my story my former therapist has used my my story to share with others. She has done several conferences with other therapist sharing my story to educate them on how well EMDR treatment can be with patients dianosed with MPD/DID. She and Dr. Shapiro had my permission to share my story. Every since December 1999, I have not been on any medication for PTSD, bipolar, depression. I'm so thankful for having my life back. Words cannot describe the relief I have within my mind. Its such a miracle! I haven't been on any medication since 12/31/1999 for my mental issues. I thank God daily for the gift he has given me through this treatment a therapist who helped me find my way back home to a emotional and mentally safer place to live within my own mind.

    1. Hi Brenda,
      I'm so glad you were able to find treatment and support to help you heal. I'm sorry your mother didn't believe you. That is such a significant betrayal itself. Thank you for sharing.

  13. This letter has helped me. I've never been able to afford professional help. I've dealt with my abuse totally alone for more than 40 years now. My abuser is dead, but maybe writing a letter will still help.

    1. Hi Leigh,
      I'm so glad it helped. I'm sorry you've not been able to get the help and support you deserve. It's such an important piece of being able to heal. I would encourage you to look into your local rape crisis center. They are in most communities and generally offer free or low cost counseling and groups for survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

  14. Thank you for sharing your story.

    My therapist just assigned me to do this very thing today. And I don’t know how to do this or where to start. But reading ur letter has helped me figuring out how to write my letter.

    1. Hi Jennifer,
      I apologize for the delay in my response. I'm glad this helped you connect with what you might want to express. I hope your letter helps in your healing. <3

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