[su_divider top=”no” divider_color=”#006699″] “To the Man Who Hurt Me” was originally published June 18, 2015, on Beauty from Scars and is shared with permission from the author. This is a letter to a man who betrayed her trust and victimized her through manipulation and fear. At her request, this letter has been anonymously published to protect her identity.

[su_note note_color=”#e46a6a” text_color=”#000000″]Trigger Warning: This article or links to external sites, may contain information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors.[/su_note] [su_divider top=”no” divider_color=”#006699″]

To the Man Who Hurt Me

I confided in you. I idolized you. I had faith that you understood what I was going through and would be there to guide me through it. I trusted you.

Yet, to you, I was just an object – someone to satisfy your needs and desires and fulfill a fantasy. You wanted power. You enacted your power and you used that power to hurt me. You knew how weak I was, how insecure I was, and how desperate I was to make a better life for myself. My self-esteem was low and instead of mentoring and guiding me, you played on my weaknesses. You knew I wouldn’t fight you, nor would I turn you in. The fear of losing the freedom I was gaining through my degree was the tool you used to manipulate and silence me. That fear meant I wouldn’t challenge you, I wouldn’t talk, and I wouldn’t fight. That gave you the power and gave you a high.

I tried to tell myself that I was too sensitive, that I was overreacting. After all, if you were doing this, than it must be okay, right? I mean, you are connected – in the community, in the workplace and politically. Someone as esteemed as you would never do something to ruin what you worked so hard to build, right? In comparison, I was a single mother, a high school dropout, with little to no family support and a nobody. Who was going to believe me anyway? You knew that and used that to your advantage. Yet, I forgive you for that. I forgive you because I was in the wrong too. I should have had a backbone. I should have said no. I should have come forward sooner. Those decisions and actions rest solely with me.

What I can’t forgive you for, however, is putting me in the place to have to make those choices in the first place. I confided in you as I had others before you. Others supported me and helped me step forward toward my goal. Yet you, you chose be something different. I idolized you. You worked your way up in life and I respected that. I wanted to be like that. I wanted to learn from your experiences. However, you chose to teach me something different. I trusted you. I trusted you to help me grow, to support my wish to be independent and support me through the process. Instead, you chose to do something different. You chose to betray that trust to satisfy your own weaknesses. You took my imperfections and used them to your advantage. Your own needs trumped mine and you allowed your own demons to make decisions for you. Those decisions hurt me. For that, I will forever hold you responsible.

I understand you were experiencing your own pain. Your life was in turmoil. You confided in me and I tried to support you through your difficult time. I encouraged you to focus on the love you have for your children and focus on healing yourself. While doing so, I told you that your marriage troubles would become clearer; the answers would reveal themselves. I encouraged you to focus on resolving what was troubling you and in doing so, you would be doing what was best for your children. I reminded you that the past cannot be undone, but that the next choice you make is still within your control. I encouraged you to remember that as you move forward. At the end of the day, what will be, will be. Even though this personal nature of our conversations felt uncomfortable and inappropriate, all I wanted to do was help. I never meant to cross any lines, nor get either of us in trouble. I never wanted to give you the wrong idea but my lack of confidence meant that I didn’t say no when I should have. And when I did say no, it wasn’t forceful enough. You talked your way around my objections and caused me to doubt the feelings I was experiencing in my gut. My gut knew very early on that things weren’t ok. I chose to ignore my instinct and chose instead to trust your direction. For that, I apologize.

I need to tell you a few things. I want you to know that I have suffered for the choices you made. I suffer because of the choices I made as a result. I already struggled day-to-day with depression and struggling to survive as a single mom with little to no support. I was, and still am fighting a stressful legal battle trying to protect my own children. I told you over and over that I was not okay, that I was struggling, and that I needed to lessen the stress in my life. It was with this overwhelmed mind that I didn’t see you coming. Instead I trusted that you had my best interests at heart, after all, isn’t that what people in a position of power and trust do? That’s why your job is called just that – “a position of power and trust.”

I want you to know that you broke me. I’m experiencing thoughts and feelings I never knew I was capable of. I’ve always being a kind and forgiving person eager to help others; but now, now I can’t tolerate people, and most times don’t even like people. Simple things that used to give joy are huge tasks now. You stole that from me, and ultimately, you stole that from my children too. I don’t like feeling this way. YOU are responsible for that.

I spent months listening and reading everything in the media. I was judged by the court of public opinion which concluded (falsely) that you are actually the victim and I, the perpetrator. I felt even more useless and worthless than ever before. I did the right thing. I spoke up to protect myself and my rights and instead of being supported, I was vilified. You lied and I suffered because of your lies. You rushed forward and gave an inaccurate narrative that defined my existence for the last 5-6 months. Only recently have I began the healing process – assigning blame where it belongs and acknowledging my role in allowing it to happen. Thoughts of suicide littered my mind daily. I started to believe I was not a capable mother and that my children deserved better than me. I allowed your actions, the media reports, and the public opinion to define who I thought I was. I gave up on my education, my dreams and myself. I failed out of my last semester and my desire to live and be successful disappeared. The worst part of all that, is that it doesn’t even hurt anymore because I just don’t care. That is my new reality, the new me.

Where I am headed from here is anyone’s guess; all I know is that I am broken. I’m broken because of you and for that, I can’t forgive you now. You’ve robbed me of my ability to enjoy life. You’ve robbed me of my identity and my future. The old me would bounce back and find myself again. The old me would feel bad for my involvement in this. The old me would have forgiven you. But the old me is gone. You have yourself to thank for that.[su_divider top=”no” divider_color=”#006699″]

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