Posted by: Marie | April 15, 2009

(46) Did you molest me?

Post #46
[Letter to the man I believe molested me, sent on Friday, July 4, 2008]

Hi, “X” –

Greetings from Colorado – It has been a very long time since we have had contact.  I trust you, your wife and your kids have all been well.

I wish I could say that my contacting you was a fun journey through my history, just to say “hi” and catch up.  However, it is not.  I actually have some pretty heavy thoughts swirling around in my mind – I’m hoping maybe you can assist me in sorting them out.

First, I apologize for suddenly appearing in your world after so many years, and for bringing heavy subject matter with me.  However, I wouldn’t take this step if it were not very important.  Please know that I have been very conflicted about my decision to contact you.

Let me start at the beginning.  Overall, I have been blessed with a very good life – I have gotten to experience some awesome adventures and I have been, and am, surrounded by incredible family and friends.  However, there is another side to my life, as well.

For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with self-destructive behavior, feelings of shame and guilt, and a sense that I am foundationally damaged and unlovable.  As a result, I have really battled with eating disorders and dysfunctional relationships, among other things.

I couldn’t figure out, on my own, the underlying cause for all of those issues or how to fix them, so this year I started seeing a psychotherapist.  He quickly ferreted out one of my greatest sources of shame – movie-like images that have been in playing in my mind for as long as I can remember – images that can only be described as child pornography.

He asked me from where they originated.  I told him I assumed I had organically created them.  He told me that children do not generate those types of images on their own, that such images necessarily come from external influences.  He asked me the same question again.  I answered that I must have seen a pornographic movie when I was a very young child.

Then, in each weekly session over the next couple of months, he would ask me a question or two about those images – what events occur, how I was involved, my age, etc.  Each question would cause me to challenge what I believed about those images.  Then, one day, the thought entered my head that those images likely came from my own personal experience and not from a movie.  It hit me like a ton of bricks when I realized the only way that would have happened is if I had been molested as a child.

Of course, my therapist had figured out what was going on right from the start, it just took me a while to make that connection.  As soon as I did make that connection, a number of detailed memories started coming to the surface.  In the past two months, with the help of my therapist, I have started piecing together the specifics.

My biggest challenge has been to fully believe that the memories I am now recalling are real.  The idea that I was sexually abused is so outrageous to me.  Yet, I have the memories and I have the post-trauma symptoms.  Some days it all feels real and believable and other days it doesn’t.

For whatever reason, it seems my healing process has been stalled by my inability to accept the validity and accuracy of my memories.  It seems vital to my healing that I have some external validation.  I am looking for confirmation that something really happened and that my memories come from actual events and not from my imagination.  I’m not looking for revenge or to cause any new pain, I just want to heal and move onto better things.

There is absolutely no way that I would ever speak to my mom about this.  I believe it would only bring her great pain, and there is no reason for that.  My memories include my trying to tell her about the abuse and her response being one of disbelief.  She doesn’t need to know because there is nothing she can do about it now.

I have talked to both of my sisters to see if they could provide some insight; neither could.  So, I am turning to you for help because my memories seem to be associated with someone in our former church.

I have really struggled with how to say what I’m going to say next.  I guess it is best to just say it.

I have strong memories – fond memories – of the special attention you gave to me when I was a little girl.  I remember feeling very special because of that attention.  Those memories are positive ones for me.

The less clear memories I have are the ones related to the abuse – and those memories seem to consistently involve you and your house.

I am 95% sure that I was sexually abused (including masturbation and penetration) when I was about four years old (around 1972).  However, I am far less sure that you were involved – my memories could be inaccurate – they are rather disjointed.

So, my question for you is: Did you molest me?

Please understand that I am struggling to make sense of all of this and am grasping at straws.  I feel I have to ask this question of you for the sake of my own healing.  I believe I would someday regret not asking, regardless of your response.

If my memories are inaccurate, I can only pray that your education and professional experience can help you understand how the inaccurate associations were created in my mind.  In that case, I beg your forgiveness for even asserting the possibility.

If my memories are accurate, please know that my only intention is to generate healing for both of us.

Again, I apologize for bringing such heavy material to you . . . I pray that any undue angst and pain I cause you with this letter is softened by the truth.  Thank you for your time and consideration . . .

– Marie


Responses

  1. Hi Marie,
    This is good. I wonder if I should use this as a template letter to my own perpetrator. The only difference is, I KNOW what he did. What did he write back? (Sorry leaving work, could root around to find the answer to this question). I’m not sure if it would SOLVE my problems or just create more.
    Anyway, happy to find your blog. We have a lot in common!
    Cheers,
    Nancy

    • Hi, Nancy –

      Thank you for the compliment! Feel free to use the letter as a template . . . I tried to be fair in my wording, especially since I wasn’t sure if he did anything. He did call me as soon as he got the letter (I sent it via snail mail and gave him his choice as to which method he wanted to use to answer). I summarized his response in this post: July 9, 2008

      The advice I have gotten from many sources is to not expect perps to confess or take responsibility — in order for them to be able to live with themselves, they have had to justify their behavior or remain in denial to themselves, to the victims and to others for many, many years. They aren’t going to suddenly take responsibility just because someone confronts them. In fact, a perp is likely going to be very hurtful and aggressive in his/her response because his/her passive victim has suddenly grown up and gotten a backbone . . . he/she will feel hugely threatened.

      I wrote and sent the letter knowing all of that . . . it didn’t matter to me . . . it would have been nice for him to confirm my memories, but I was not looking for anything in particular from him. Rather, I sent the letter because I needed to know how he would respond. I can’t tell you why that was important, it just was. I’m glad I sent the letter.

      I guess my point is . . . be clear about why you are sending the letter (if you do send it). Make sure your expectations are realistic. And, plan out ahead what you will tell yourself in the aftermath of each of the possible outcomes. Be aware that sending the letter could open up stuff that is very harmful and hurtful. Make sure you have support (like a therapist) if you do send the letter.

      Anyway, thank you for your comment! I hope to hear from you again!

      – Marie

  2. So glad to have come across this. My brother is 10 years old then me and is a recovered alcoholic . He confessed to me that he was molested/ raped by a male baby sitter. Who lived down the street from us. Many years have passed and I still have so much anger for him and how he has been affected his whole life , I also worry that this man has hurt many more. Looking into what is legal. any advice?

    • Hi, AB –

      First, let me say that I am so sorry this cancer has come into your family . . . the wounding is incredible and can have such a lifelong impact. I appreciate that you are providing support for your brother.

      I can speak with a bit of authority on the benefit of taking steps to confront a molester outside of the legal arena — but, I have zero authority about legal issues. I’m afraid you’d need to contact the police or an attorney for that. I would encourage you to get very clear, upfront, on your motives . . . are you looking for the molester to acknowledge his behavior and apologize? Are you looking for validation of fuzzy memories? Are you look to stop him from hurting others? Are you looking for revenge?

      Whatever the reason, consider how far you are willing to go to accomplish it and that will help you know when you have gone “far enough” and it is time to walk away. Probably the help of a psychotherapist who has training/experience in childhood trauma would be wise, also . . . maybe for you and for your brother.

      Thanks for stopping by . . . I hope this helps . . .

      – Marie


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