As we continue through the weekly processing I feel increasingly that I want to tell him how he had made me feel in doing what he did to me; how he has left me feeling for so many years. And so I write a letter. Of course, it is a letter I will most likely never send, but writing it, putting down what he did and how I’d had to live with it all these years helps me to move on through the process. It allows my emotions to move from deep shame and uncontrollable sorrow, to anger, anger towards what he did. This is progress.
* Please note that I have edited this copy of the letter from my original, as I cannot bear for anybody else to read the full extent of it, even now.
Letter to a Rapist
I cannot begin this letter with the salutation ‘Dear’, because I don’t feel it’s appropriate. It’s not appropriate because there is nothing but pain and regret when I think of you.
For well over forty years I have lived with a legacy of mental and emotional pain and shame that has cut deeply into my everyday existence. I have tried to keep what you did to me and what you put me through locked away in a box. Until now. I wouldn’t imagine you’ve ever given a thought to the damage you inflicted upon me, but I have had to live with it for decades.
Only now, with the amazing love of family and friends and the support of a caring and skilled counsellor, have I been able to properly face full on what you did to me time and again and give it it’s rightful name – rape. You may not think or even believe that to be correct, but I know that is what it was and I also know that if I chose to pursue what you coerced and often forced me into night after night, you would have a case to answer in a court of law.
Do you know, I still cannot pass where you took me night after night, without my stomach tightening in panic and dread? It was the place where I was expected to ‘pay’ you back for taking me out for a drink, a meal, to a party. You absolutely expected it of me and when I didn’t want to do as you asked, you told me I was ‘frigid’. A ‘frigid bitch’ I believe was the term you used. You broke me down until I cried and gave in. I didn’t even know what the word frigid meant until you used it. But I wasn’t frigid. I just didn’t want or deserve to be forced to do the things you wanted me to do. It’s true, I did knot up and freeze. I knotted and froze with anxiety, panic and dread at the thought of where we were going when we got into the car at the end of an evening. I froze with dread at what I might be expected to do. I can’t even bring myself to write descriptively about it here, but I remember all too well the things you made me do and some of those things, I know now, were not normal. I used to brace myself against it, numb myself until it was over and I was free to go home. That was never how love should be expressed.
As far as I am concerned you just added to what had been stolen from me when I was seven years old, when I was sexually assaulted by a stranger. Surprised? No, I didn’t tell you. I’ve never told anyone about what he did or indeed what you did, until now. This has been my dark secret. It was my shame to bear abuse at the hands of a grown man as a child. He stole my innocence. You stole my dignity and my self-worth, you exerted your control time and again and when I didn’t want to comply, you treated me in such a way that left me feeling totally worthless.
You reduced me to tears, you had me apologising for what you made me believe were my own shortcomings. You left me feeling dirty and used. It happened to me when I was seven and you did it all over again and again and again. Let’s face it, I wasn’t even worth the time for you to break off with me properly. I actually had to phone you to find out where you were that Friday, only to be told you were calling it all off
My biggest regret is not being strong enough back then to say ‘no’ and walk away from you. You actually did me a favour when you ended it that day and I have since considered it to be my luckiest escape. I only hope that whoever you have gone on to share your life with has not had to endure the things I did.
You didn’t ruin my life in as much as I have been highly successful in everything I’ve set my mind to. I attained two Degrees at University and I have reached the top of my profession. I have an amazing family – a loving, kind and caring husband and beautiful and equally highly successful children along with the most loyal and fabulous friends.
But despite all that success and the deep love that surrounds me, I’ve lived too long with my darkest secret. I’ve lived with years of freezing in panic and dread at the end of a lovely evening when my husband has turned to me and I’ve frozen at the expectation of having to ‘pay’, as I did with you. Add to this the fact that whenever I’ve found myself alone with a man, whatever the situation, I’ve frozen inside with panic and dread as to what might happen, what might be expected of me – there is your legacy.
I’ve blamed myself for years for what happened, and only now have I been able to acknowledge that actually, none of it was my fault. Not one bit. It was yours.
You raped me. Expectation, coercion, pressure to do what I didn’t want to do – that was rape – no other name for it, rape that I endured for far too long. You even took me to watch X rated sex films, films I wouldn’t ever have dreamt of watching, films that made me uncomfortable and that I was ashamed to watch. You took me along to try to show me and persuade me how to live out your sexual fantasies. And then you made me do things way beyond normal. I didn’t know any different. Only that I didn’t want to do it. Now I know, you raped me.
I’m not pursuing anything here because I’m not a vengeful person, I never was. I know I could and I have every right to take things further, but I don’t want to escalate the trauma you put me through and what I’ve had to live with for so many years.
What I want is for you to know how I feel and to take ownership of what you did – the lifelong damage you caused another human being in this world.