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Can any good come of writing a letter to an abuser?(16 Posts)
So, written about this lots before on here at various times.
From age of 14ish to 22 had a sexual relationship with one of my teachers. He was 15 years older than me. Fucked me up bad. He was married. Ended up going back to his wife. Was sexually abusive and physically abusive. Was very scared of him by the end. His wife was also my teacher when I was 12-13.
Many years later. Have got married to lovely DH. Had children. Very happy. Also a teacher. Have known where he and she work and live ever since, never acted on it. Went to police in 2007. Not interested, said it couldn't be proved.
Saw him on the street a few weeks ago. Very upset. Spoken to husband and therapist. Suggestion of writing a letter to him and maybe her.
Have drafted lots and resolved to think about it for a while. Just wondered if anyone has any experience and whether it's worth it or should sleeping dogs just be allowed to lie?
Letter would not be emotional but more of a victim impact kind of statement- telling him as an adult now myself I am appalled by what he did.
Good idea or shocking idea? Almost don't want to give him the satisfaction but equally I've sat on this and not blackened his name for more than 15 years and feel like I should be able to tell him the effect he had.
All advice appreciated. Am happy to share the letter or at least a draft of what I have is that helps.
Did your therapist intend for you to send it, or just write it as a therapeutic tool?
I would advise you not to send it because the response or lack thereof run the risk of harming you. Abusers are likely to act and respond in a way that serves their interests and not yours. Through an online support group I'm in, I virtually 'know' a few people who have confronted abusers. None have been happy with the results.
I completely understand that you long for some kind of closure, especially after the police refused to investigate. This isn't about letting sleeping dogs lie, or not; you have real scars from real trauma. But it's about protecting yourself and not setting yourself up for further harm.
The only way I think this could work is if you send it without contact details and without expectation of a reply; but then I'm not sure how helpful that would be to you, and it's always possible they would retaliate.
What you could do is contact police again; they've been told to buck up their ideas in the light of Oxford and Rotherham. I'd suggest you contact your nearest Rape Crisis centre and see if they have an ISVA (sexual violence advocate). Mine has details on the website. I contacted them about a historical case and decided not to proceed but they made the point to me that evidence might be unearthed during an investigation.
Unfortunately he's not likely to go: oh my god yes, I hurt you, I feel awful, however much you wish he would.
Thanks for your responses. I would send it with no expectation of a reply and no contact details. I don't want him to know where I live. My motivation is simply that i want him to read it and realise the harm he did to me.
Buttonmoonboots I would feel a bit of a fraud using a rape crisis centres resources I think- whilst what he did to me was awful and scarring, we were in a "normal" sexual relationship for some years, which I consented to. He had moments of abusiveness sexually and moments of sexual violence but he didn't ever actually rape or force me.
Who did this suggestion come from?
I would strongly caution you against sending a letter of the type you propose to your abuser because a) it may give him pleasure to learn the extent of the hurt and harm he caused you and b) he may use it to make a complaint against you.
Write out your account/impact statement but on NO ACCOUNT should you send it unless you know for a fact that he's on his death bed.
You won't be able to protect yourself by simply omitting details as he'll know who it came from and, if he's so inclined, it won't take him long to track you down or ask the police to do so if he makes a complaint against you.
Suggestion originally came from hypnotherapist I was seeing for anxiety.
I don't think he would get pleasure from it, he's a cowardly little man who I think would hate to be confronted by his actions but maybe I'm wrong.
Absolutely taking all this on board and really don't think I'm likely to do this but, just out of interest, what grounds would he have for complaining about me to the police? Naive perhaps but it's not illegal to write a letter and he's got far more cause to fear the law.
Apologies if this sounds naive or mad- I've thought for years about doing something to make myself feel better about what happened and would really like it to be from a legal point of view but that avenue seems closed to me.
I would consider another word with police. Times have changed, even in 8 years.
Do speak to rape crisis if you feel you can. Your relationship wasn't normal, and you suffered sexual abuse and violence. That's what they are there for.
But please, even if you write a letter for your own catharsis, don't send it. He knows what he did to you: he probably thinks it's fine, and that he was entitled to behave like that. That's how twisted such people are. If you tell him it harmed you he is very unlikely to have a fit of remorse. Blaming you in some twisted way is more likely. Don't give him the chance.
I'm sorry OP but he's probably not going to realise even if you do send it. And you absolutely would not be a fraud using RC. They are for any and all survivors of interpersonal sexual violence. And while you say he didn't force you it is evident that he groomed you, while you were under the age of consent.
I'm not sure a hypnotherapist is the best person to advise on sexual trauma. But you know your therapist. The thing is it won't necessarily make you feel better as he is still in your head, which is why you feel the need to write to him and get closure by interacting with him. True closure needs to come from within you.
He could unfortunately accuse you of harassment.
Do not send the letter to your abuser, and definitely not to his wife. You have absolutely no way of knowing how either of them will react, but it is very unlikely either will respond in a way that will be helpful to you, and there is a possibility that you will get a negative response - they will know it's from you, and probably will be able to find you if they want.
The last thing you want is a visit from the police, because they have accused you of harassment or writing poison pen letters, or a nasty letter in return, or horrible gossip to start floating around about you. His wife, in particular, is 99% certain to believe he is the victim in this and you are seeking to cause hurt and making things up, which is likely to be extra hurtful for you to have to deal with.
I guess a harassment charge wouldn't improve my feelings on any of this!
Will definitely look into rape crisis. Has anyone got any tips about approaching the police? I really don't think I have a shred of evidence so think this is pointless.
That's where the ISVA comes in. They are advocates who can talk to you about what's involved in the police process basically and can advise and help with approaching them. If there's one locally it sounds like it could be really worthwhile.
It's really understandable that you want closure. I'm so sorry you are having to carry this, and I'm sorry it happened. It wasn't your fault
I have worked in MH for years. It's a common suggestion from some practitioners (a very basic one IMO) to write a letter but I've never known anyone suggest it should be sent. It's usually just suggested as a cathartic exercise.
I really wouldn't recommend you send a letter to him and especially not his wife.
Thanks all. Been thinking about this loads and finally plucked up the courage to phone rape crisis but they weren't open! I'm going to give them a ring on my free period later and see what they say. Will let you know!
Write the letter but don't send it. You could share it with yr therapist or just put of away. Sending it will not make things any better for you (most importantly) or have the desired effect on him.
Definitely don't send it: you will end up feeling far, far worse. Either there will be no response, or there will be a harmful one (a charge of harassment/'outing' you as a spiteful, deluded liar, malicious harassment in return).
And I think your hypnotherapist sounds like a berk. Is s/he helping you in other ways, or is it time to seek another therapist?
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