An open letter to victims of sexual abuse & their loved ones
Thursday, January 14, 2021
[In sorting through old papers, I found a copy of a letter I wrote in 2001 to my aunts and cousins. I don’t know if any of them took action based on my urging. When I read the letter to my new therapist last week, we both teared up and she applauded my bravery in sharing it. I realized too many other families have similar histories, so am choosing to share it here, in hopes that it may encourage others to seek help for themselves or people they care about. (Note, I use asterisks here where I underlined in the original letter.)]
I have considered writing such a letter for more than a year. Having very recently obtained information supporting my earlier suspicions, I know it is my responsibility to speak to you and to help break the cycle of silence—and violence—which has plagued our family for generations.
I am an incest survivor. My mother admitted to me once that she had been fondled by *her* father. I know it is unlikely that she was the only daughter to have been molested, and I have suspected that she was not the only one to have married an abuser. I do not know how many of you may have likewise suffered the long-lasting and pervasive psychic and spiritual wounds that come from being betrayed by those whose role was to love, support and protect you. But my greatest fears have been confirmed: that the most innocent and vulnerable of us, the children of a cousin, were molested by one of my uncles. I fear there may have been other instances of abuse over the years. I can only pray it is not continuing today.
The fact that it occurred at all is not acceptable. The God of my understanding does not condone pedophilia, nor support any form of violation. No precious Child of our Creator deserves to be abused sexually, physically, verbally or emotionally, no matter what ties of marriage or blood may bind the predator and victim.
Please, I beg of you, and I pray to God:
If you have been abused at any time, no matter how long ago—*get help*.
If you know or suspect someone you love has been abused—*help them receive the support they need to begin healing*.
If you think any form of abuse is going on now—*stop it*. Do not let any more generations of girls and boys grow up with the message that abuse is okay. *It is never okay*.
If you need help to stop a predator, *get help*. If it requires bringing in the authorities, *bring them in*.
Hurt feelings or damaged pride or reputations are *nothing* compared to the well-being, the emotional, physical and spiritual health of ourselves and our children. We are called “survivors” because so many similar victims *do not survive*. They kill themselves outright, or through substance abuse; they place themselves in dangerous situations, they put up with abusive partners. No Child of God should grow up thinking she or he does not deserve to be loved and protected.
I was blessed to find the right therapist to guide me in my recovery. Actually I know God sent her to me in the form of a friend’s referral. Search and find a competent, compassionate professional to help you and yours begin to heal. Allow *no one* to tell you that you should accept any sort of ill treatment or blame or that your only job is to forgive your abuser.
Forgiveness may come later in your process. So may anger, depression, rage, distance. Certainly changes will be required: passive behaviors must be set aside, covering up must stop, the truth must be told.
Some may be offended by this letter, by my breaking the silence and speaking my truth. If that is so, so be it. The Serenity Prayer advises me to serenely accept what I cannot change—*and to courageously change what I can*. I feel called on by God to do what I can to help heal the wounds and stop the evil that have caused harm to those I love. I pray that God’s grace, love and strength brings peace to us all.
Blessed Be, Amanda
P.S.: A therapist recommended the following in soliciting information from young children regarding whether they are being or have been abused. Ask if anybody ever touches them where their swimsuit would cover their body. Teach them it is right for them to tell, and to keep telling, if *anyone* does, even if that person says it will cause trouble or it should be a secret.