Letter to A Perpetrator

Dear Perpetrator,

You probably don’t remember me… and if you do, you probably try to forget. But I remember you, as though it was yesterday…

This is not an easy letter for me to write to you. I’ve wanted to write it for many years, but never had the courage.

You see, I was a happy-go-lucky little girl… carefree, pure, sweet, innocent, playful and free. Until…

Before we met, I used to feel like a little princess. Special. My mind was filled with dreams of growing up, of being a mommy one day, and having a daddy for my children. I would be the best mommy in the world, and he would be the best daddy in the world, and together we would have a happy family. My little world was filled with wonder, light and hope. Until…

But after you ‘played’ with me, and after you showed me things I didn’t want to know so young, at least not in that way, I stopped dreaming. My world became dark. My hopes shattered and fear took their place. All I could think about was what you did. You said it wouldn’t hurt. But it did. You said it would feel good….

It didn’t hurt then, but it has never stopped hurting since. My heart has never stopped hurting….

You have probably long pushed away the memories of what you did. I can only assume that, because you’ve never come back to say you are sorry. But I have not forgotten, and I never will. I used to be angry when I remembered. Now it just makes me sad, because I wonder who you have become, how many other children you hurt. And I wonder if they, like me, lost themselves in that pain.

I grew up. It was hard. I struggled with suicidal thoughts and tendencies. I felt hopeless. Ugly. Dirty. Broken. Used. I let more people use me. I thought it was all I was worth. That it was all I deserved. I became desperate. And in my desperation, I wanted to die and make the pain stop. But I kept on fighting.

Eventually I found the real Jesus. He heals people like me, and tells us who we really are. That we are not the sum total of what others have done to us, or the wrong choices we have made. He reminded me that I really am a princess, the daughter of a King, the daughter of His Abba Father. And there I found myself again. But the struggles kept on, the pain stayed a long while.

I got married and became a mommy. I married a man who is now the daddy of our children. We have a family. We love each other, and we love our children. I am the best mommy I can be. But I have struggled with depression, anxiety and anger… and sometimes I even felt that it would be better for my family if I was dead, better for my children to have a new mommy, one who was not as messed up as I was. Those were hard years. I loved them so much, but had nothing to give. I was still so lost.

And my husband is the best man I have ever known. Not only because he is a good daddy to our children, but because he is good to me. That part of my dream came true. But instead of the carefree love I imagined in my childhood dreams, before I even understood love, sex and marriage, it’s been a hard and painful battle. He has held me patiently, and reassured me, when I remembered what you did, and when I was afraid to love him, because of that memory. He comforts me when I cry. He prays for me when I have nightmares about you. And he keeps on loving me even when I get depressed.

So my dreams have come true, but with a thread of pain and suffering.

I think about my story, and I see how hard I fought, how much I have grieved, and I wonder again who you have become. Do you still hurt little children? Have you ever told anyone what you did? Do you still carry that secret? Do you tell yourself that I, a little child, asked for it? Do you console yourself with that lie? Do you hope I forgot? Do you live in denial, so you don’t have to remember me? Or has it wrecked your very soul?

And then I wonder if you’ve ever talked to Jesus about it? Have you told Him what you did to me? Have you asked Him to forgive you? Have you wept, and begged, and pleaded on my behalf, and any other victims you have, praying that the crime you committed against me would not destroy my life? That He would find me, heal me and make me whole again? That He would take that horrific act and redeem it, and launch me into a full life?

When I think of you, I feel sad. I feel sad because it must be a terrible burden to carry. Sometimes tears spill out when I remember you, and I pray for you. I pray that you will be sorry, and I ask God to forgive you. I have forgiven you. It took a long time to feel that I had forgiven you, even after I had chosen forgiveness for many years.

If I would see you, I would say this one thing to you, “I forgive you because of what Jesus has done in me.” But you are still accountable to Him, and I pray you will see that, and find His grace and forgiveness.

So I wrote this letter because I want you to know how much it hurt, how much damage it did, so that you won’t do it again. I want you to know that I remember. And I pray for any other child you have hurt, that they will know the love and healing touch of Jesus. And most of all I want you to know that there is hope. That you don’t have to stay in bondage to the lies, to the addictions. Because Jesus died for you too. That’s probably hard for you to believe, but if I, a child whom you hurt, can tell you this, how much more can God who is holy and just? Not to mention that He is your Creator, your Saviour. It is His authority by which I speak these words. I know they are for you.

If you’ve never told anyone what you did, tell someone. Don’t carry that memory in shame and silence, because that gives it power.

And if you don’t have anyone to tell, you can tell me. I will listen. I will cry. My heart will break. And that’s okay. Because when you’re done talking, I will tell you that I forgive you. And then I will tell you to give your heart to Jesus, and all that yucky stuff with it, and let it go. Because He loves you.

Still praying for you…

Sincerely,
~ one broken little girl ~

© Trudy Metzger

Return to first post in Sexual Abuse Series

First Post in Spiritual Abuse Series

What is Sexual Abuse?

“Perpetrator. How I hate that word. I’ve still been reading your blog regularly, tho not quite as enthusiastically as awhile ago. I have read the word “perpetrator” more times than I would have cared to. I am wondering, how exactly do you define “perpetrator”? And how do you define sexual abuse? How “minor” does it have to be before you would define it as abuse? Some explanations would be appreciated…”

I received the above note from one of my blog readers today and wrote back with a brief explanation and a promise to write more about it here.

The individual went on to, somewhat apologetically, acknowledge that the message may sound harsh. Harsh? Not to me. It’s truth. It’s honest. It’s refreshing. I appreciate that. And I recognize that not all my writing is for everyone all the time. Having said that, I’ve had the highest consistent visits on my blog in the last several weeks. Where it’s not working, or where readers have concerns or questions, I appreciate hearing from you.

The word perpetrator is a broad term commonly used for anyone who commits a wrongdoing, especially in sexually inappropriate offences. It covers everything from the person who exposes himself or herself, violating others visually, to the people who rape, molest or otherwise abuse others sexually.

I use it in story telling because it allows me to write about the offender without giving away name, gender or the details of the violation. (To share those details, by calling the offender a rapist, is something I rarely do. In The Travelling Missionary… Rapist I did this, because I am hoping people will recognize him and get help if they or a loved one were one of the many who were violated by him.)

I’m not a big fan of changing names, though I do it on occasion, and rather refer to the person as a perpetrator. For better or worse, I’ll probably keep using it.

Defining Sexual Abuse is also not without challenge. There are various types and ‘degrees’ of  violation, but any sexual exploitation, regardless how minor, or whether it involves touching, or not, is Sexual Abuse. Within that there are various definitions for different forms of abuse.

Molestation, for example, is typically used to describe unsolicited sexual contact with a woman, if it does not progress to rape, and also refers to all sexual contact with children. If children ‘consent’ they are still considered victims of molestation.

Sexual assault is a broad term used to define ‘knowingly causing another person to engage in an unwanted sexual act, by threat or by force.’ Sexual Assault, in legal terms, has for the most part replaced ‘rape’ and ‘sexual abuse’ or any form of sexual violation.

(In searching for answers as to when and why rape was redefined as sexual assault, I found Bill C-127, in 1983. The purpose was to include male and female victims, and make the law stricter and clearer by defining levels of assault. StatCan)

The person who exposes him/herself sexually in any way, is referred to as a perpetrator, and can be charged. (This is referred to as exhibitionism) The person to whom they exposed themselves is the victim.

Any sexual interaction with a minor is abuse, and is usually referred to as molestation or sexual assault. If it is two minors, it can be innocent exploring, or, more likely, the result of a victimized child introducing another child to what they have experienced, or are experiencing. These children are not perpetrators, though it can still have damaging or negative impact on one or both children. In a legal sense, adolescents and adults can be perpetrators of sexual abuse and adolescents are typically referred to as those between 11, or 12, and 19.

There are varying degrees of impact, and what some refer to as ‘minor’ abuse can have major psychological impact on the victim’s life. In any case, abuse is abuse, and victims need to be helped, while the offender needs to be held accountable and helped.

I’m not a big fan of assigning levels and degrees of abuse. If it happened, and it traumatized you, you need healing. If it impacted your behaviour, caused you to get involved in any unhealthy sexual behaviours, even in childhood, and left you feeling guilty or ashamed, then you need healing.

I’ve had women share things, reluctantly, worrying that they are being petty about something that happened in early childhood. It isn’t petty. If it felt wrong, and if it felt like it violated your right to be respected and protected, then deal with it on the level of abuse, regardless of the other person’s intent. To excuse it leaves you in bondage.

The best example I can think of is a young girl completely naked, or partially undressed, in her room, and someone marches in without knocking, to get something, to spank her, to yell at her or some other intrusive behaviour that has nothing to do with sexual intent. Even if the young girl is not touched, or even ‘looked at’ with sexual intent, she will likely feel violated. The sexual intent is not always there, for the violation to  happen.

The scenarios I mention have happened and have left women struggling.  I presume a boy could feel the same way, though I have not heard testimony to that fact, so I cannot speak to it.

These are some of the definitions of sexual abuse. If you have perpetrated in these crimes, there is hope, forgiveness and healing. You do not need to be defined by, or stay in bondage to what you have done, however, you do need to find help.

As always, whether you are a victim or perpetrator, if you need help finding someone to talk to in your area, email info ‘at’ faithgirlsunleashed ‘dot’ com. We will do our best to help, anywhere in Canada and USA.

© Trudy Metzger

Return to 1st post in Sexual Abuse Series