A letter to my abuser: You took advantage of me and made me believe it was my fault
I hope this letter finds you in good health.
I know I’ve been avoiding you for quite some time now. Even when we’re at the same place at the same time, I act like I don’t know you’re there. But isn’t that funny? How I’ll always greet you sincerely, but try my best to avoid you for as long as possible? I can’t look into your eyes. I’m sure you’ve noticed. Why? Because I remember everything.
I remember how aggressively you asked me to look straight into your eyes as your hand went inside my shirt. I stood there, unable to move, while you explored under my shirt. I was standing right in front of you. My legs were shaking in fear but I tried to stay still. You held my arm so tight that I almost started crying. I never told you then, but I was afraid of you. Remember how I ran back to my room immediately? That was the first time I thought everything you did to me was my fault. I was afraid and I didn’t know who to talk to. So I lay in bed and cried myself to sleep. That was the last time I looked into anyone’s eyes.
It’s been almost 11 years now and I’m still embarrassed to look someone in the eye. I feel exposed, almost as if everyone knows what you did to me. I feel like they can sense how ashamed I am or how hard I’ve been trying to run away from a past I can’t escape. I don’t know if this letter is going to help me but there’s no one else I can talk to. There’s no one out there to understand how I feel. I wish I could read this letter out. I wish I could overcome my fear.
There were times I really did think you were a good person – we used to play together, I used to adore you. I thought of you as more of a friend than a dear cousin brother. I wish I could scream and tell everyone your real intentions.
It took me almost four years to realise that I was a victim of sexual abuse. The realisation came once I learned of the parameters of abuse at university. I was sexually abused – it took me a long time to be able to say those words to myself. It’s still too much, too much to even consider talking to someone about it. The guilt and embarrassment confounds me every single day. Every day, I feel myself slowly deteriorating. I try to tell myself that one day everything will be okay, but those are the days that are the worst. Those days, I hate myself so much that my only solace lies in hurting myself.
I know it’s not going to help. I know it’s not going to take my demons away. But it’s my temporary ease; my fleeting escape. It has taken over my being. It’s my addiction. The first time I hurt myself, I told myself “you deserve it” and the pain almost seemed to subside. It happened once, then twice, and then so many times that I could no longer keep track.
I don’t know why I’m writing this. My therapist advised me to start writing about how I feel. Yes, after three years of contemplation, I have finally started going to a therapist. I’ve been in therapy for three months but I still don’t have the right words to express those ordeals. My therapist doesn’t know about all this; maybe because a part of me knows that this was abuse, but the other part still thinks it was my fault.
I wish I had the courage to ask you why you did this to me. Was it really the way I dressed that provoked you? Or the way I used to sit? Or walk? Or talk? I really want to know, because I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. I live in constant fear that I’ll be abused again: in university, on the road, at someone’s house. I’m afraid, so afraid of being raped that my life is in a tumultuous affair with panic attacks. By the way, I was also diagnosed with anxiety. Everything is constantly piling up but I’m trying to be normal.
I try to ignore my past. Sometimes I wonder how my academic life has been unaffected by all this. But I’m glad, as it made things better. Back then, I had already begun to self-mutilate – I just didn’t know it was a disorder. I didn’t know that there were so many people out there doing the same thing.
You changed me. And every day I miss the girl I used to be. I was confident, remember? People loved my energy, but not anymore.
Have you ever thought of what happened to me after what you did? Did you even give it a second thought? Was there even a voice of morality in your head telling you to stop?
Do you want to know how my day went after I cried myself to sleep? I couldn’t even swallow a bite of the food my mom made. She didn’t understand my behaviour. She didn’t know what happened. And I couldn’t tell her. I was sitting at the dining table and my heart was pounding so hard I could feel it in my ears. But that was all I felt. My hands were cold and I remember my mother scolding me for not eating my lunch. That was when the tears came.
It took me a while but now I understand why you kept on doing it; it was my fear that always turned you on, right? I remember I was still processing what had happened. I thought it was just a one-off incident and you wouldn’t do it again. But I was naïve then. I still vividly remember how you agreed to drop me off to my friend’s house. I remember how you suddenly stopped the car on the side and shoved your hand between my thighs. I tried to stop you without looking at you and you laughed at me. I still remember that squeaky voice of yours when you said,
“I love to see you scared.”
I remember everything. I could not comprehend when you, after touching me in every possible way, said,
“Don’t make me do this again.”
I was shocked. I did not understand the words that came out of your mouth. I never asked you to do any of those vile things to me and you know that. Why did you blame it on me? More importantly, how could you?
Those six words forever remain entrenched in my head. I believed you.
I really did begin to think that it was my fault. But you know what, I’ve been reading up on abuse. I came across an article that said abusers say these kinds of things to their victims to confuse them even more, and that’s exactly what you did. It was a win-win situation for you. You get to sexually abuse a girl and then make her believe it’s her fault so you’re off the hook. No blame, no guilt, right?
I know whatever happened, happened. There’s nothing you or I can do about it.
But I still want to tell you how all that changed me. I guess it’s safe to say, you killed me. Literally, you killed me. You killed the person I used to be.
The thing with such situations is that the abuser gets to move on or even forget, but for the victim it’s like opening Pandora’s Box. You made it hard for me to overcome my fears, along with adding a whole bunch of new ones to the list. I feel scared even when I know I’m safe. Trusting someone is now a luxury I cannot afford. I feel scared talking to my guy friends despite knowing that they are good people. I also thought you were a good person – see where this is going? My heart starts pounding when I have to ask my male teachers a question. You have no idea how much I have had to suffer because of my self-created stupid fears. You will never know what true fear is.
Despite having everything I ever wanted, I continue to curse and hurt myself because I’m too scared to be me. I always feel like my way of talking or hand gestures or reactions may seduce another sick-minded pervert like you. So I try to stay invisible in every possible way. I’m too scared, even of the people I know well or have known my whole life. I’m scared of my own existence.
I feel like I’m constantly living a nightmare and I can’t wake myself up. I cry over and over again because I’m embarrassed of the stone-cold person that I have now become. I have no interests. I have no feelings, except maybe suicide. It consumes me. It numbs me. But I can’t do that to my mother. I know she wouldn’t be able to bear the loss. But every day, I think about it. It takes over my entire being and I feel sick to the pit of my stomach.
I hate who I have become. I don’t know if you even feel guilty, but I want you to pray for me. Pray that I make it through and survive. Pray that I stop thinking about you. That I stop cutting myself over and over again because my scars can no longer be hidden and they remind me of our past every time I see them. Please, just pray for me. It might be too much to ask of you – trust me, I do not want anything from you – but please do. Perhaps God will listen to someone who’s not tainted.
Your cousin sister
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