An open letter to my sexual abusers,
Remember me? Some of you have no doubt forgotten me, I was probably just another girl in the crowd whose boobs you grabbed as she walked past, a hand up a skirt in a busy nightclub, a nameless, faceless piece of flesh you called a slut and shouted out the things you’d like to do to me as you drove by.
Some of you I expect though, will remember me, though I wonder how and in what ways you think about me, if ever you do. Perhaps I’ve been pushed into that corner of your mind where dark things hide, where you put the parts of yourself you’d never want anyone else to know about, the parts even you don’t want to know about. I expect what you did to me sits there, growing every day you ignore it, feeding on the energy you put into pretending you didn’t do that, could never do that.
Perhaps you’ve told yourself some lies to make it ok? To make yourself ok. In your head I consented and you did nothing wrong? I suppose you tell yourself it’s ok to put your penis inside of someone who is drunk and who only ever thought of you as a friend. It’s ok to hold a woman’s head down and ignore her as she says “No” as you force your penis into her mouth. It’s ok to coerce someone who is clearly reluctant into having sex with you. It’s ok to grab the face of a stranger and shove your tongue in her mouth…
Do you tell yourselves these things? Do you justify your behaviour to yourself in this way or does it never even enter your head?
When I think about you all I wonder these things, but the thing I wonder most is who else did you do it to? What other victims of yours exist in the world and did you to do them what you did to me?
This is the bit that cuts me the most. The awful pain I carry is that I didn’t report and by doing so I may have allowed other women to be hurt like I was. Maybe you went on to do it to someone else, I think you probably did and that is a terrible cruelty to leave me with. I am damned if I do and damned if I don’t. Did you know that I would feel that way? Did you think about it? Is it part of why you did what you did? Did you think, ‘she will never bother to report this, no one will believe her’?
Sometimes too I wonder what made you the way you are, I think about your family and it angers me that no one taught you about boundaries, body autonomy and consent. I feel a deep sense of rage towards your father and mother. I suspect with some of you your parents would be the kind to sit by your side in court and let about that I was a lying slut to all their friends. I know that this is the case with some of you, as I know who your parents are, and I hate them for how they have taught you to be so entitled and abusive.
I see some of you with partners and I wonder have you done to them what you did to me? Does she know she shares a bed with a rapist?
Some of you I have spent years trying to forget. Your faces are now smudged in my mind and I can’t remember your names. The only thing I vividly recall is what you did to me.
A child was cruel to one of my children a few days ago and my child told me about what happened. She said that the other kid had really hurt her, and her instinct was to hurt that person back. But she remembered how I had told her that when we hurt someone, the person who is most harmed is the one doing the hurting. I told my daughter that when we hurt someone else a part of us gets contaminated, and the only way to heal that part is to feel genuinely sorry and to make amends for the damage we did.
I described it to her as like growing mould spores, but on your heart. If you do bad things to others without fixing it, you end up with a rotten heart. I want her to know that the greatest harm we can do to ourselves is to hurt other people. I want her to know that redemption is possible and that making amends for our mistakes is really important in life. We must learn to own the things we’ve done that have caused harm to others. If we don’t own it fully we’ll never be able to address it, never be able to try and make amends, never be able to move on.
You stole my agency. You stole my trust. You saw something you wanted from me and you determined to get it from me no matter what the cost. You did not care if I lived or died after what you did, you just thought of yourself and your own desires in that moment. You took from me what never did and never will belong to you. My body belongs to no man.
You craved the feeling of having power and you saw an opportunity to feel big, by dominating me and trying to own me. I was for some of you, your friend. I trusted you. But you never tried to make it right. You just carried on living your life like nothing had happened. Like you were entitled to use and abuse me and swan on through life with no consequences.
So I want you to know that what you did to me has caused a rot in your heart. You have a dark, rotten core that will never be right until you face what you did, what you are. Until you are truthful about what you did to me none of your relationships are genuine. They are all built on lies. Your marriage is a lie if your wife doesn’t know you are a rapist. Your relationships with all the people you haven’t told, are built on the lies you’re keeping from them. I want you to know that. That lie will follow you around for the rest of your life, until you face it.
I have no doubt let down the other women you assaulted, after me. But you bear most of the responsibility for that, as you are in control of your actions, not me. And we both know how most rape cases end. So I will live with that guilt, placed on me by your actions, and you will live with a heart consumed by a black web of lies.
I feel sad for you too, you wanted some power and you saw me, shiny and kind and you saw that as weakness, not strength. You thought you could take my power from me.
What you didn’t realise was that my strength and my power comes from my clear, loving and kind heart, and you could never take that away from me.