Lately, there's been a lot of talk about abuse and its effects, how to recognize it in your children and how to try to prevent it from happening. I'm trying to bring out a little from the inside perspective here. You're welcome to listen, or ignore and read on. What you do is your choice.
Your daughters are in pain, and if I could describe to you a little bit of what they are going through, it would be enough to start tears to fill a pond, and with theirs, a river. The only problem is they can't even cry. The hurt, anguish, anxiety and shame is of a depth that cannot even begin to be imagined. Unless you've experienced it on some level, which I fervently pray you haven't, you can't begin to comprehend. They're living with a body that rebelled against themselves, and they can't run away. They're living with a shame of another person, the guilt of a different being, anger that is not their own, and thoughts that became their life. They're living with a mind that took over and they can't escape. A lot is to be said for where they stand in life. I know. I'm there.
I seem like a typical girl but everywhere besides for the surface, I'm anything but. My similarities to other girls my age changed and stopped when I was ten. A neighbor took care of that for me when he stole my childhood innocence and purity. He stole my mind, robbed me of my body, and took over my thoughts. He set my life up for me very different than I ever imagined. Once I understood what happened, and I began to grasp what went on, my outlook changed, my views and opinions changed, and I changed...drastically...almost shockingly. And the same in some form happened to your daughters I'm talking about. Sleep is almost non-existent for most of us, and daily functions have become a major chore. I can't explain what it does. I can't explain the long-term effects of abuse, but I can tell you it's not easy. And your daughters need your support. I'm writing a letter to my parents in this, and it's a letter that any girl in similar situations will relate to. Read it, try to understand it, but appreciate the time, effort, struggle and pain that went into it.
Dear Tatty and Mommy,
What happened happened and the clocks cannot be turned back. The drum roll has begun, and the show is in full swing. It's too late to turn back life's dials. We can only try and keep them going. The abuse was traumatic, the experience was painful. I can't talk for others; I don't know, but I know mine is deep and uncovering it takes work. That work is draining. It's tiring, frustrating, hurtful, scary and overwhelming at times. There are times when it's too much for me to deal with, let alone clean my room. The thoughts that come to the forefront during the process are monstrous and take over, leaving no room for any others. Yes, my schoolwork suffered, and I have been available to help out less. It's true I've had less patience, and socially, I've become more shy sometimes. I know it's frustrating to see the change, but please believe that it will come to an end soon enough, and if you help me and support me, encouraging me to go on, I'll snap back to a better me than I used to be a lot faster and more easily. Give me the time and space I need to get through this with you.
I know it's not easy for you to see. Believe me, it's not easy for me either. I feel bad when I see you throw your hands up in despair, or rush to get things done before Shabbos, because I was sleeping having not have slept for three days before. I wish things were different too.
But it's not my choice, and this is the package I've been given. I intend to send it back nicer than it came to me. I wish this was over as well, but it will be someday.
Mommy, Tatty, I wish I could explain myself better to you, but I'm trying to figure myself out as well. I know I've sort of shut you out of my life for a while as I talk to someone else about my innermost self and feelings. I know it's hard for you to see me go to someone else with my pain, my tears, confusion, anger and resentment. I know you feel as if you lost me. But you didn't. I'm doing what I need to do to get back to myself, to become the daughter you used to know. I'm not angry at you. I don't blame you. I love you. You are my parents, and will always continue to be so. I just need a little time now so I can work things out, and I'll come back to you again. I never could have gotten here if not for you to begin with. You're on the forefront of my mind, and I wait for the day I'll be able to open up to you again. It's precisely because you're so close to me I can't begin to talk to you about what occurred. It's because I feel the love that I've pushed it away. I know it sounds unfair, but please understand, and try and help me through this in whatever way you can, however difficult I am. I have to live with myself too. I know I'm not easy. I know. I'm asking anyways, and soon enough it'll all be over, and we'll smile looking back. With your support and unconditional love, I'll get through it.
Thank you for trying to understand,
I love you always,
I'm not writing this letter to vent. I'm not writing it to blame. I'm not writing it to ask for pity. I'm just trying to make you aware so you can try to begin to understand and be there for her. Many of you might be wondering why I'm making such a big deal over this. Truthfully, I question that also. Why was it such a major thing? Why does it have such an effect? It's a question I'm still waiting to be answered. I'm the first to agree with you that it's crazy. But it's true, and it's fact. abuse hurts, and the effects linger. If it's not dealt with, it'll hibernate, remain dormant, and at one point become an active volcano. At that point you don't want it to be too late. She needs your support. She needs your encouragement. But most of all, she needs you to accept her as she is.
Show her she's still your daughter, and you still love and accept her for who and what she is. I know I changed, and your daughter probably did too. Love her anyways, and let her know you do. The process will take time, but eventually it'll end, and you'll have the daughter you knew back again. Maybe different, but special (or even more) the same.