I was sexually abused - for 8 years. By my brother.
There it is, out in in the open for everyone to know. No lies, no stories, just the truth and me. I am tired of secrets and hush hushes behind the door. It happens and no one wants to talk to about it. You only find out that it happens when someone gets drunk one night and spills out the angry truth. You only find out when your girlfriend won't give you a blow and you want to know why. You only find out when your sister or aunt turns out to be a lesbian because what one man or one boy did to her. And you only find out... after it happened.
Can you imagine the furor that would have been caused if I had come forward and said, as the daughter of a protestant minister, that I was being sexually abused by my own brother. If it was a stranger or if I had been raped, it would have been different. It would be different because then people don't think that it is your fault but just some sick bastard having his way with a little girl. But when you say that its a family member -- people start to conjure up images in their minds about family life in the back woods of Appalachia. Then they seriously start to doubt your credibility not only as a person, but also as a member of a family that would permit this sort of heinousness within the confines of the home. But what if they didn't know, no one ever knew - because you never said a word?
As I was thinking about what I was going to write in this letter, I realized that at the same time as it was an apology, it was as well, in a rather strange way, a thank you.
I would like to start off by saying that I am truly sorry for what happened when we were kids. I was confused, screwed up, insecure, and lonely at that time, as if that could be an excuse for what happened. It was inexcusable, and I can only hope that you can eventually come to forgive me. I have been dealing with this for the last couple of years trying to sort myself out, and now, with the help of my therapist, I am starting to figure out and unravel all of the feelings and emotions around those events. That is where I think that the thank you starts. Without this process, and its associated pain, agony, and questioning, I would never have had to deal with those events. Although I think I would have preferred that they stay buried in the past, in a way, I'm thankful to you for dredging them up and making me deal with them. It is helping me become a more mature, thoughtful person who deals with his insecurities in productive ways, who deals with people in a more honest way and who is finally free to get on with living his life. I hope that with my admissions, with my punishment, and with this letter, you can finally find the freedom from the past you are looking for as well.
I hope that one day for our parents sake, you can at least come to tolerate me, although I realize that this is difficult for you and will be a long time in the future. Until the time that will talk to me again, I wish you nothing but the best in work and in life.
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About The Author
Mary Bridget Furlan is one of many "survivors" of incest who shares her passage through the stages of healing and on the road towards forgiveness. She can be contacted at [email protected]