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Woman haunted by sexual abuse

DEAR AMY: My sister's ex-husband molested me from the time I was 11 years old until I was 17. It never went beyond forced kissing and touching, and I never told my parents or my sister because I was afraid my father would literally kill him. He divorced my sister after abusing her, which resulted in her trying to commit suicide and being committed to a hospital for several months. This happened more than 50 years ago. He took custody of their children and we never saw them again (nor did my sister). She remarried, had more children and is now deceased. I have been contacted via social media by two of the children he had with my sister. I am continually upset when I view family posts portraying him as the beloved family patriarch (even though he went on to have more children with various women, and I know he was not a good parent). The obvious solution is to stay off the social media site (duh!), but I have a burning need to confront him about what he did to me all those years ago. I feel guilty that I didn't "out" him back then. He is elderly and ill now, but I feel no compassion for him. I feel at the very least he owes me an apology. The abuse was scary and affected my entire life. How can I put this to rest?

-- Survivor

DEAR SURVIVOR: You will put this to rest by doing what you need to do, after which you will continue to wrestle with your feelings until you make a choice to close the door and free yourself of shame, guilt, fear and hatred.

Write him a letter and tell him how his behavior affected you and how you feel. Do you want to actually send this letter? Sit on it for a week to decide, because writing it might be enough. This issue is between you and him -- not between you and his children.

Be prepared: You will not receive an apology (or an acknowledgment).

Anyone who had the experiences you had early in life would benefit from therapy. You deserve to heal.

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