Forward by Cheryl:
This first letter was sent to me by Mandy, a survivor in need of a friend. I thank her for writing and giving me the chance to share my thoughts and feelings with her. Having an online friend can be comforting, allowing feelings to be expressed from a safe distance. It’s important to listen and share with an open heart.
I suppose a good place to start would be to tell you my name so here goes, my name is Mandy. I have three children which I call my little miracles as at one time I was never going to have children because of the abuse.
I have suffered with depression most of my life. I was bullied from the age of five and at that age too, was my first encounter of abuse. It was a friend of the family that time and only happened once or twice. It wasn’t until I was seven when the next abuser took it further and then my father started to abuse me too. I still blame myself for my father abusing me. I can’t get that out of my mind at times.
I had the chance of telling a policewoman when I was nine. That was when the other abuser got found out and I had to give a statement to the police. I asked if it was ok for fathers to do it. I could have told them then but I didn’t. It wasn’t until I was fourteen that I told someone about him; that it came out.
I found it as hard then as I do now to talk about. I hate myself and am still ashamed of what happened. There are things that I didn’t even tell the police that happened to me as I was too ashamed and frightened that I’d get blamed. My father went to prison for what he did but did not serve his full sentence. He did six months out of the two and a half years. I still feel very bitter about this as I am still suffering. There seems to be no end to it at times.
I fight suicidal thoughts every day because of what he did. The bullying didn’t help either. I had no escape; school was as much a nightmare as being at home. So as you can probably tell I did not trust anyone then and still find it hard to trust people now. I have friends who are survivors who can’t understand why it still upsets me. There are lots of people in my life but I still feel alone. That is also hard for me to deal with.
My counselor is nice. I went to see her today. I spoke a bit more but not very loud. I am hoping it will get better with her help and yours. I feel if I get really down again I will end my life, so this has got to work for me this time. I don’t think I have the strength to go through another all time low. Not sure how that sounds, but that is how it feels. I have had to fight depression all my life and there is only so much one person can take. God that sounds so selfish, but I can’t help the way I feel. I hope I haven’t gone on too much.
My Response Letter
First off, I’d like to thank you for confiding in me, not once, but four times now. I hope in writing to me, it gave you some kind of solace, at least in letting out some of your pain. Whether you realize it or not, writing is healing, so don’t ever stop sharing your feelings when you need too. I will always listen.
I apologize for not writing to you sooner, Mandy. I have no excuses really, other than the business of life. Every day, you’ve been on my mind. I keep telling myself, “Cheryl, you have to sit and write to Mandy. You’re four letters behind now.” So, here I am, finally.
Thank you for this letter, regarding your abuse issues. I appreciate you sharing with me as I am sure it wasn’t an easy thing to do. I am a complete stranger, and here you are, trusting in me, sharing something so personal in your life. I hope I don’t disappoint you. I hope your confiding in me, helps in some small way.
It’s good to talk, Mandy. It’s good to let your feelings out. Remember that, okay? I’m always here, so is your counselor. Don’t ever give up on her, don’t ever stop sharing. Talk louder, let yourself be heard. Don’t ever feel ashamed or to blame. You were only a child when this happened. It’s time you placed the blame where it deserves to be placed.
Most times we are indeed hurt by those we love most. People we trust are the ones who take advantage of our innocence. They betray us in the worst way imaginable by putting their needs before ours. We, as children do not understand what’s happening, or why; we only know we have to listen and do as we’re told. We are taught that, it’s engrained in our very being to respect our elders.
Mandy, don’t you ever blame yourself for what happened. You were a child; there was no way you could have stopped what was happening. It was not your fault, it was your perpetrators. They alone, must be accountable, not you. How could a young child protect herself from grown adults? You couldn’t, anymore than I could. I used to feel blame too, now I know different. I used to be so hard on the little girl inside me. Not any longer. I’ve allowed myself to see her, comfort her, and hold her close to my heart. In forgiving her, I’ve found peace within myself. In loving her, I have learned to love myself as well.
I was a little girl, holding a devastating secret for most of my life. I commend you for coming forward as a child. I didn’t until it was far too late. It wasn’t until my 30’s when my parents found out. I wish I had come to them sooner.
Mandy, you said you had the chance of telling the police woman what happened when you were nine, but didn’t say anything. I don’t agree with you. In my mind, you did tell. You said, “Is it okay for fathers to do it?” The police woman should have understood that question meant something else. She should have read between the lines. It’s most unfortunate this woman didn’t see the pain in your eyes, hear the torment in your voice, and sense the emptiness in your soul.
It’s good your father did some jail time, although he should have done a lot longer. I don’t blame you for being angry that he was out within 6 months. Life certainly is not fair sometimes. But you did speak out, you did all you could. Please, try to find some peace in that.
Feel proud of what you’ve accomplished; you’ve survived insurmountable odds, you are a true survivor. Whether you know it or not, you are. You endured, but in the end, you spoke out, you defended the little girl inside you. You should feel proud of such an accomplishment. It takes a lot of courage in facing an abuser and even more in having him convicted. I know I’m proud of you.
I wish I had had the courage as a young girl to do such a thing. I stayed silent for far too long. My step-grandpa has had a happy life due to my silence. He has been married for 72 years, lived to be 101; quite the milestone.
My grandpa’s time is ending. He has only a few days left. I visited him at the hospital, I’m not sure why, I just did. Until the hospital visit, I don’t think I’ve seen either grandma or grandpa for almost a year. I guess I just needed closure, to say goodbye and feel at peace. He’s an old, feeble man now, who made a grave mistake, forever changing my life. I don’t know if he truly deserved my forgiveness, but I think a part of my forgiving was for my own internal peace. In forgiving, it made me a far better person then he could ever be. I gave him peace and solace to take with him to heaven, a lot more peace than he ever gave me on earth.
A part of me is still angry, don’t get me wrong. What he did to me time and time again, will never be okay. I was a child; I had no control in what was happening. He was sick, not me. None of it was my fault. I understand that now. But even though I understand it, I am still haunted by memories. I’m still haunted by the milk-house, by barn smells. They make me remember.
I envision the small child and the old man and it repulses me. I think about how I must have made him feel. The arousal he felt from my innocent body. The lust he felt from our kiss. It sickens me. I always thought I was the only one in the world going through this, I felt truly alone. Who could help me? Who could I tell? The little voices in my head cried out, but no one heard. I carried far too much shame to say it out loud. I knew my abuser was old, I was a little girl. I knew this must be wrong, but I still stayed silent. Did grandpa tell me to be silent? I don’t remember. I think he must have, I just don’t know. I’ve always been angry for not speaking out, but I realize now, I must have had reasons; and good ones.
I had to forgive the little girl inside me. I had to tell her it was ok, and that I was here now to protect her. I used my adult voice; I let myself be heard. I wrote grandpa a letter. Beneath the trees, the warmth of the sun upon our faces, I read it to him. It felt good to talk, but I truly wish I had done it sooner. I didn’t get all the answers I wanted, but still, a tremendous weight was lifted. It felt good to shed my anger and vent at him, it felt good to cry, let him see my pain, make him realize how he affected my life. I wanted him to carry the burden; it was his turn to feel some pain. I carried enough for an entire lifetime.
Mandy, my life will forever be affected by being molested, as will yours. But in accepting your inner child’s innocence, you will realize you were never to blame for what happened. Forgive the little girl inside you, Mandy. Let yourself see her. Feel her pain. Wrap your arms around her; hold her close to your heart. She needs you and is worthy of your forgiveness. Give her that much.
You are a truly unique, beautiful person that deserves so much. Trust in those you love, let them close to your heart; let their love fill you with peace and contentment. Don’t ever think of your tomorrows as being your last. You have three little miracles that need you in their lives. Their destinies depend on your strength and courage to survive. You must fight through your depression, find peace within yourself. Your children need you. Fill their today’s with happiness, their tomorrows with visions of hope.
Dreams of happiness shall surely follow.