I believe you.
I’m not just saying that because I know how nice it feels to hear it. Nor because I know how horrible it feels when people don’t believe your truth. I believe you because I know little kids get molested by “nice guys”, and even “great fathers” all the time. I’m one of those kids. I know you are too.
It’s never easy to talk about being abused. There are no words to describe what it’s like the first time you tell someone. It’s something you do out of desperation. Desperation to save yourself or to save another child. You were a lot younger than I was when you first told- you must have been a very brave little girl. Some experts believed you and some did not.
That still happens today. Back in the early 90’s it happened a lot more.
I know what it’s like to have a father who everyone thinks is a wonderful person. Someone who, on paper, is a lot more accomplished than you are. Someone who makes more money, who’s never gotten into trouble with the law, who’s never had mental illness diagnosis slapped on them.
I know what it’s like to see people look at that father, then look at you and to see the look of “what the hell went wrong” flash on their faces. And if you tell those people exactly what did go wrong, how this seemingly wonderful person could rob you of so much health and potential and wholeness in a few minutes, they probably won’t believe you.
I know no one is ever going to fabricate a story of incest for sympathy, because they rarely get it. You know that the Statute of Limitations has locked you out of justice in the criminal and civil courts. I know how all that feels. It’s all so wrong. And I know what it’s like for that wrongness to swell up inside of you, and you want to do something about it. And there’s no good way to do something about it without honesty, without acknowledging your own truth. That honesty hasn’t benefited you much so far. You had no reason to expect it to benefit you this time. You still told your truth.
I believe you.
In your letter in the NY times a few years ago, you talked about developing an eating disorder. That’s something I’ve dealt with, too. I know they’re exhausting, not fun at all, and something no one is ever going to develop just to prove a point or further a grudge. They happen when you hate every fiber of your body. There are lots of ways that can happen, I guess, but I know exactly how it happens after you’re raped and your body doesn’t feel like it’s yours anymore.
It breaks my heart to see the different kinds of negative responses your letter has elicited. But I guarantee you that for every negative response you see, there’s a survivor out there, or ten, or fifty, who read your letter, felt their eyes moisten, felt their breath stick in their chest, and thought “she’s so brave!”
They are going to think about telling someone, some day. A few of them will. Some will start fixing the broken laws, the broken courts, the broken mindsets that allow people like your father, and mine, to still walk free.
It will happen because they believe you. Just like I do.
Peace to you,
PS. I will continue to fight to overturn the bad laws that protect people like your father and mine from prosecution.
Executive Director, Stop Abuse Campaign
A survivor of incest, psychological abuse and a host of other childhood trauma, Melanie now uses her talents to prevent Adverse Childhood Experiences. Melanie has over a decade of legislative advocacy regarding children’s issues, and she has been published in newspapers, magazines and blogs all across the country.
Melanie has an ACE score of 6.