Monday, July 11, 2011

A letter to my dad

I have written a letter to send to my Dad because I want things to be different. I've got a few weeks before I have to post it so it can be altered if anyone can think of any changes I should make to it. Advice would be gratefully received.

Dear Dad,

This is a difficult letter to write to you and I’m sure you won’t appreciate receiving it but it is important that I write to you. Over the last couple of years when I have visited you, you have behaved in a sexually inappropriate manner towards me. This has to stop. It is wrong, abusive, illegal and unhealthy certainly for me and I think probably also for you.

So this letter comes as an appeal to you, and also to some extent, as an ultimatum. I am not going to put up with this any more. I am not going to collude in behaviour that is just wrong. I am not going to put my physical, spiritual and psychological wellbeing at risk. I just cannot do it. Your behaviour has left me broken and hurting and I just cannot do it anymore.

I want to have a relationship with you. You’re my dad. I love you. But it cannot be a sexually abusive relationship. It has to be a nonsexual familial one. If you cannot abide with this then there can be no relationship. I don’t want that to happen but your behaviour has given me no choice.

I’m coming up for a fortnight in August. If anything remotely untoward happens when I am up, you will not see me again ever. This is not what I want but this is what your behaviour has driven me to. I can no longer be your bitch.

You need to reflect upon and consider your behaviour. For the past thirty years you have caused more pain, brokenness and sadness than I can bear. You have left me with a legacy of mental illness that I still struggle with. Only now am I rebuilding my life to be what I want to be, not to be the broken consequences of your behaviour. I am not going to jeopardise that. If you were Catholic I would suggest to you that you make your confession but you are not and I know the concept of confession is anathema to you. But you need to examine your conscience and take responsibility for your actions and their consequences.

I hope this letter acts as a warning call to you about your behaviour and the consequences of it. I hope that you are able to behave in an appropriate fashion. I truly want you to be my dad and to behave as a father should. That is all I’ve ever wanted. You can do it; you can overcome the temptation to behave inappropriately. You just have to want to and I’m begging you to want to.


Pandora said...

Gah. I wish I could give you some useful, tangible advice. But I don't know - since I don't know your Dad at all, it's difficult to come to any helpful conclusion.

Based on your writing here, though, I'd venture the following. Feel free to ignore me, I won't mind :)

1. Your parents are Free Presbyterians, aren't they? If I recall correctly (and maybe I don't), they loathe Catholicism. I'm not saying that's right or just - nothing about any of this horrible situation is - but I do wonder if maybe you should avoid mentioning it at all. Might it not just serve to anger him? Both he and your mother seem to have this ridiculous penchant for shifting their blame onto you, and I'd be slightly concerned that he/they might use this as another reference to do just that. You don't deserve or need any more of that unfair, fallacious bollocks from them;

2. Of course, they might use the letter in its entirety to play their blame-shifting games. I still think you need to act, though, and the letter seems to be a fair way to do it. You just need to be prepared for that as a possibility, and see if - between your friends, Father S, the serial killer, us lot online, etc - you have support in place to deal with such an eventuality; and

3. This sounds stupidly obvious, but...if you send this, you need to be absolutely resolute that if your father starts up with his vile behaviour again, that you really will cut him out of your life altogether. Personally, I think not seeing him and your mother again would be a good thong, but I know that I'm not in your position and that it's all too fucking easy for me to say. But really - there has to be no going back on this.

You deserve to be happy, and I'm so glad you're feeling better than you were. You really do deserve it. You do not deserve to be treated as your father's sexual plaything. So I think you should send this, but be fully prepared for the backlash and the potientially very real chance that you may have to cease contact with your Dad (and possibly Mum too).

Whatever you decide, whatever happens, I'll always be here for you, for the little that's worth. Sending you lots of love, hugs and good wishes.

Take care

Pan <3 xxxxx

Pandora said...

Also, I'd add that you should be proud of yourself for taking this stand. I hope it doesn't sound patronising, but I'm proud of you. You're brave to be facing this and to be making him think about what he's done.

Much love xxxxx

A said...

I am sorry to say this, and we don't really know each other, but I really believe that he will use this against you (i) by accusing you of being possessed by evil and (ii) to threaten your niece/nephew. I truly believe that the man has mental health issues of his own, may not be completely responsible for his actions - but the fact is that this may happen. Feel free to disregard this. I do not know him.

Whatever your father may say, I do not believe that you are evil, but he will probably - as in the past - try to use this against you.

My advice - in short - rather than sending the letter, is to act on what you believe in. If he tries his vile behavour again, cut him out of your life. He will not be persuaded by a letter, in my view, since his thoughts about you are already very twisted.

Sorry. *hugs*

cbtish said...

For what it's worth, I agree with A. A letter is not likely to help him change his behaviour, and it could make things worse.

It is more important for you to react immediately and with firm resolve if he again behaves badly. Make arrangements in advance so you can cut your visit short at any moment.

Explain the rules to him to his face the moment you meet. If you don't feel you will be able to do that, don't go at all.

Sandy said...

Your letter to your father is very powerful. When I wanted to write letters to people who have hurt me I wanted very much what I think you want. You want to put an end to the abuse.
In your letter, you mention that if he was Catholic he could go and confess. Are you trying to save his soul or are you looking for a confession? God already knows what he did. Telling a priest about it will not change him or what he has done to you.
If sexual abuse is happening to you, it is not a safe environment. God has given you the job of taking care of you. Being an adult you can use the free will you were given to put an end to this criminal behavior. Hiding it and what is being done to you is a sin. If this man is sexually abusive to you, there is no reason to believe that their aren't others he abuses too.
We are all here for a reason. What if your reason is to stop this man? God doesn't send in the angels for nothing, and if you think you aren't one of them on some kind of mission, I say pray and ask. Be strong and if you must send a letter, might I suggest something shorter? Stick to the facts and leave religion out of it. If he does these things he is no follower of God or Christ in any capacity. He is just a sex offender who should be in jail so he can't hurt any one else. Keep your chin up and keep being strong! You are right on to set boundries, that is really a big step :)

Els said...

I think you are really brave to write all this down and share it with us. But I am slightly concerned that given your situation that you still want a relationship with your dad. We can't choose our family but if this was happening to a friend of mine by another friend I would urge him/her to cut all ties. His behaviour is clearly inappropriate. You are not a bad person for doing this and it is your choice, but we don't have to try and resolve everything, just accept there are some bad people in this world that we don't have to have anything to do with if we choose.
Not sure I am explaining myself very well and I hope I am not offending you (not my intention). But good luck, whatever you decide.

fromthesamesky said...

I would like to say though - whoohooo for both the writing and the sentiment. Even if you don't send the letter (I do think previous comments make important points) you still wrote this! That in itself is a HUGE achievement, so well done you!

sanabituranima said...

I am very proud of you for finding the strength to write this. I agree with what cbtish said, though it is your life and your choice.

You deserve a life without abuse.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry I haven't been in touch with you for several years, and for some reason I had completely forgotten about the blog. It means that I don't know to what degree you have tried to formally confront your father with his profound sin, since we last talked. It seems a long time since we worked on that witness statement.

You may remember that in my father's case 'the letter' did lead to a constructive meeting, and to reconciliation, if not to any great closeness before my father died. But I believe that in the years of separation, my father had reached a point where he was ready to - and I'm using a very quaint word here - repent. From what I know of your father, that doesn't seem to be the case with him. I think the warnings of backlash are very appropriate. In relation to my sibling, whose position is in some ways like your father's, I have sadly learned that retaliation can be vicious and disproportionate, and that any letter is likely to be read in such a way that the positive affirmations you make ('you're my dad and I love you') are simply not perceived.

And yet there is an obligation to lay down markers, as in Matthew 18. 1 Corinthians 5 also comes to mind - that is the territory your father is in. I'm sure that delivering Paul's judgment to the offender was a difficult task, but in that case there was no conditionality; it wasn't 'if you do it again ...' it was simply, you are out.

For several years, not a day has gone by when I have not reflected on your parents' sin, and that of those around them who have turned a blind eye. That, and the attitude of the bullies and liars in Scottish evangelicalism (some that you and I have discussed, others that we haven't, but it's the same story) - I have struggled to hang on to faith at all. At times I haven't hung on. I hang on now partly by repeating the mantra, 'It's not all fake'.

I will pray for wisdom for you. My instinct is that you should not give him the chance your letter outlines, you should deliver, essentially, the verdict of 1 Corinthians 5, and hope that your own siblings somehow come to a place (hopefully not by being further hurt) that will allow you to proceed with the witness statement.

sayitsok said...

I was so moved by your post. Enough to leave a comment. I hope you sent the letter. It is perfect and you should not worry the effect it might have on the recipients because the letter is for you and the little girl still within you. You have taken such a huge step to stand up and look after your inner child. The bravery and strength of your words are juxtaposed with the content and shine through. The content and history of the letter is not your fault. x

pajanguin said...

If I were in your situation, I wouldn't be able to marshal nearly as much maturity, strength, and eloquence as you have in this letter.

I first read this post a while ago, and have been hoping that your words have, somehow, reached through to your parents.

As far as them telling you that you're 'evil'-- well, remember: is impossible to hate someone for their own good... and they should know that, if they're half as godly as they claim to be.

I'm rooting for you, and hope you are safe and doing okay.

Haitch said...

Ay up,
I've been catching up a bit. Have read everything you've posted this year, and I can see I have more catching up to do.
I'm interested in the clarity with which you characterise people in your head, especially Notgod. I don't think I have the same clarity. Suicide is often a strong pull for me, but it feels a little different since I decided, about a year ago, to treat it as a moral problem, and concluded it would be morally wrong for me to do it. So now I categorise it as a temptation, rather than a compulsion or an order, although it's unsettling that sometimes I find the refrain running through my mind, 'bullet to the back of the brain'.
I do think that, mad as it seems to others, thinking your way through it, and thinking theologically about it, is the right way to go. I think I'm in calmer waters now, partly from doing that. I have now allowed myself to believe that God is not impassible, and that it is possible to disagree on this with people like BB Warfield and Sinclair Ferguson without thereby acquiring a demon.
I will pray for you.

halfwaybetweenthegutter said...

All I can really say is be careful, and take care. I hope things go right for you. There's a lot of bravery in this post, and I just hope it has a happy (or as happy as can be) ending.

Clarissa said...


I've not read your blog before today, but I was intrigued by its title and having read this post, there is just something I think I'd like to say to you about your letter.

I agree with Pan, that although sad, it might be better to not see your Dad or Mum again. But, seeing as you are obviously a very fair minded person, you have taken the trouble to write your thoughts down in a very even handed way. So, with your energy now put into black and white, I'd just ask you to question a couple of things about your tone and how you've expressed yourself.

If your Dad has been abusing you for years, you presumably have issues about trust and control - this letter is obviously your way of taking control. So, can I ask why you have resorted to the mode of the victim by the end? I get it: victims of abuse like this often take on a role in order to hide the very essence of who they are just to survive. But your letter is designed to make your Dad stop and provide him with a clear ultimatum and a clear boundary around what is acceptable and what is not. But I think you undermine yourself (probably because you love him - more credit to you for loving him) and the point of this letter. Perhaps you don't realise how it comes across, but I can recognise your tone because although I wasn't sexually abused, I was psychologically and physically abused by one person throughout secondary school, and I can remember how I gave my power over to this girl by begging, beseeching, and imploring her to stop - just the way you have with your father at the end of your very good letter.

The other pointer is that you say you will not be your father's bitch anymore. Is this something he used to tell you that you were / are to him "You are my bitch!"? Because if this was a code name he used to degrade you, I would suggest that you refrain from attaching it to yourself any longer - especially in writing. Despite that you mention this as part of your stand against the abuse, it is HIS language for you - and to control and contain the situation, you should try very hard not to give him the idea that you still identify yourself with his language and ideology at all.

These of course are just subjective things that leapt off the page at me: I don't know what is right for you. But I do see what you are trying to do here, and I absolutely respect you for it and salute and hug you for it because I think you are being INCREDIBLY brave.

Stand by your guns - but be prepared to sever contact entirely for the sake of your own sanity and health as long as you have support from friends. I really hope that you do send this letter, and that you don't put yourself in harm's way by going to stay with your parents if you think he might try it on again. You don't need that in your life, and despite all your very valid yearning for a nourishing relationship with your own father (and how normal that absolutely is), ultimately you need to see that your nurture isn't your nature.

Best of hugs,
Clarissa X