This is a letter for those who dismiss abuse as it “not being that bad, it can’t possibly have been” or “you know, my parents used to smack me on my hand whenever I misbehaved”. Yes, it really was that bad and no, it was never just a “smack” on the hand.
This is also a letter for my parents, although I highly doubt that they will ever come across this as they are unaware of my personal activities such as running a somewhat dormant blog.
To my mother, you say that you “cannot remember, but that you are sorry for whatever it was that happened, that was not meant to cause me any physical or emotional harm”. You forget also that it wasn’t just me you hurt, my four other siblings also succumbed to your outbursts. You also apologise but you admit that you don’t know what it is you’re apologising for. You promise that you will change, I’ve given you what must be, by now, thousands of what are only supposed to be “second” chances; how long until these thousandth second chances run out?
To my father, you say that you also forget “you know how it is, my memory is not what it used to be” and whenever I try to have a calm and mature conversation with you about how the family reacted to the abuse and what was said you always get so defensive, saying that “I shouldn’t listen to them” that “they’re all liars and that I should know not to believe a word they say” but I was there, I. was. there. It hurts you know. That I can’t talk to you, that when I try to, you just dismiss it like it never actually happened. But that’s the thing, dad, it did happen. I remember you saying once that “what happens in the past should stay in the past” but it really is not that easy. Whenever I see a child being yelled at by their parent or guardian, that triggers me, it causes me to have panic attacks, I would just be sitting in a cafe minding my own business when my brain would decide to throw out a small and awful memory of you, it causes me pain, to cry out or to depersonalise. That was how I coped a lot of the time, by taking my mind else where and creating my own safe bubble where nothing bad could ever happen. I feel that I have a lot to say to you, dad because I have never been able to speak with you the way I have sometimes with mum. You’re not a very good listener. To you, I say, learn to just listen, just listen, listen even when it’s too difficult to hear.
Now I would like to address those who assume. I met a man once, actually, quite recently, let me paint the picture for you. We were sat at the kitchen table watching the news when they started to talk about children in poor countries who were being abused. Now, this man was a complete stranger, (and still is in my mind) I knew nothing about him and nor him me, a conversation started, about how terrible it all was, when I decided to say that I, unfortunately, knew exactly what it was like, that is when he turned to me and said with 100 percent certainty that “No, you have no idea what it is like for those children” I retorted, “yes actually, I do.” he then replied with finality, “no, you really don’t, your culture is completely different so you will never understand.” This of course really annoyed me. To him, I must seem like an ignorant little girl with her nose up in the air (of course that was how it felt at the time) but what upset me the most was having a fully grown man tell me what I can or cannot understand and assuming that I had always been brought up in one culture, surrounded by safety and luxuries, I had only known this man for two days. Never ever make assumptions. You don’t know what any one person has been through in their life time.
I will share my story with you soon.