As a survivor of multiple cases of sexual abuse that occurred from ages 12-15 the writer of this blog wrote a letter to her younger self from the perspective of her as a grown woman.
Dear 12 year old self,
I know what happened. I know that you stopped keeping count of how many times. I am sorry. It wasn’t your fault. I know that you feel like it was. I know that it makes you feel really confused and uncomfortable in your own skin. I know that when you look at the other kids in school you wonder if they have to keep big secrets like you do.
I know why you don’t want to tell anyone. It’s because you don’t want to be pitied or blamed. You want to be admired. And people don’t admire people who do bad things.
And it’s so confusing because the men don’t look like bad men and they say it isn’t a bad thing. They talk like good men. And they say nice things to you. They give you attention and you don’t want them to get into trouble.
I want you to understand something very important. These are not good men. They do not have your best interest at heart. They don’t love or care about you in a way that is good for you. And it’s not because you aren’t beautiful or special or smart or whatever they told you. It’s because if it is good and beautiful and special then it wouldn’t have to be hidden to protect them from prison or being fired from their job.
I know that it is hard to understand what is real and what isn’t right now. You have been told so many things about how the world is supposed to be a fair and just place. How you are supposed to trust and listen to adults. How men are protectors and providers. And you believe it. But you are beginning to see that what is happening doesn’t feel good. It feels like you have to hide it because you don’t want anyone to know. And you should always trust that feeling to be an indicator that the situation you are in isn’t safe. Now and for the rest of your life.
I want you to do something for me. I know that it will be the hardest thing that you have ever done but I want you to tell your teacher. She will help you tell your parents and find a therapist that specializes in what you are going through. It is ok to ask for help. You aren’t going to get into trouble. You aren’t supposed to know how to handle this. The people who really care about you will want to help you and teach you how to help yourself.
None of this is easy. In fact it’s really hard. You are such a bright kid who is in such a rush to grow up. Adulthood will come fast enough, trust me. Be nice to yourself as you go through all of this. When you find it hard to be kind to yourself, pretend that you are your best friend. What would you tell her if she was going through the same thing? Start telling that to yourself.
You, 40 years later