Updated: Mar 24, 2019
Below is a letter I wrote to my brother after we had spent weeks navigating through our first real contact in years. He was asking for a relationship with me despite having chosen to support our father who had violated me. He accused me of lying and “blowing these out of proportion”. He blamed me for the dissolution of our family. He said his “conscience” told him that he had to continue supporting our father. He felt alienated from a relationship with me because I had set boundaries and because I couldn’t just “get over it”. My insistence for empathy left him with a choice. He has, to date, chosen our father. We have not spoken since this letter was written.
Do you support me? Not in a politically correct philosophical way (e.g., “Live and let live,” “All truth is true,” “Let’s acknowledge our differences and move on,” “Love is simple”; such adages simplify the complex and break my trust. I can accept that you have evaluated this “situation” (as you call it) and have done what you perceive to be “best for [you] and [your] family.” I acknowledge that you are under a lot of pressure that is coming from a lot of different directions. But I will not expose myself to a person who asks me to receive love with strings attached. I have learned not to do that. Your love seems to demand that I go back to a denial of reality because it’s unsavory. I will not, and cannot, meet your request. Denial almost killed me, John. Do you understand that? It is as if you are asking me to reinjure myself just so you can feel comfortable with who you are and the choices you are making.
We are in no way what your metaphor suggests [that you are Jewish and I am Christian, and that while we both believe in God, I judge you for not believing my faith is true]. I find it absurd and condescending that you accuse me of being judgmental and rigid. I am not judging you. Also, we are not in a disagreement about beliefs. What has happened in our family is history that is documented. There is no spin on it for personal reasons, noble or dark. Our father sexually abused me with intent. I saw the look on his face. I was there. I know you were not. That is history, not metaphor. People who support and love me could not, and would not, make a metaphor about my pain and truth.
I felt the maniacal strength of his decisions to hurt me. I witnessed his hatred toward his daughters and his disdain for being exposed for who he really is. I watched as he sat confidently in a chair, saying, “Gosh, that doesn’t sound like something I would do,” while he buried himself in contradictions and hypocrisy so deep that there was not one person in that room (including his own legal team) that believed he was telling the truth. He was so convinced that he would escape unscathed. And you know what? Relatively speaking, he was right. The man has lost almost nothing compared to the punishment and rejection that he should have received. Instead he actually had people feeling sorry for him—people who, by the way, have claimed to love me my whole life. In one moment, these people turned from me and chose to believe a human being who had violated his daughter repeatedly for years.
During the deposition, I listened as he spoke of me with disgust and disappointment. I heard his words—all of them—blaming and discrediting me. He was very convincing, and I can see how so many of you have drawn your conclusions. I was caught in his web too at one point in my life. One of the things I remember most from his deposition was him talking about how he knew you would stand by him no matter what – and how proud he was of you.
Regardless of whether you believe me, I would hope that you could see the devastation caused by his maneuverings after I filed a formal complaint. Do you know that the man could have come to me, fallen down on his knees, asked for forgiveness, and said, “What can I do to fix this?” He had a chance to act like a loving father and do the right thing. Instead he immediately started planning his defense and figuring out ways to destroy me. He made me endure days of deposition and threw me into a lion’s den of high-powered lawyers, where I answered questions they had no right to ask me. My entire life was on display. Can you imagine if you were asked to answer for every lie you told and every bad decision you made, and forced to defend your actions of thirty years? I was literally hung by my neck and beaten while my father watched and smiled.
He could have done so many things, but instead he protected his own skin and paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to convince everyone he was innocent. What innocent man pays so much for his defense and goes to such lengths to annihilate and discredit the victim? If he were innocent, wouldn’t he want to expose the truth—not hide it?
Loving fathers don’t do what he did no matter how badly they have been hurt by their children. He is responsible for his decisions, just as I am responsible for mine and you for yours. If you cannot acknowledge the impact of profound criminal sexual abuse from a father to a daughter, if you cannot see the reality behind what took place when I exposed the truth, you have left the relationship, not I.
You say that you are only “following your conscience,” as if you don’t have a choice. John, please listen. I know you love your dad and all of the people who support his fallacy. I am very aware that it is hard to make choices that can ultimately result in loss.
Yes, I have endured great loss. Do you think that by exposing my father – and facing the truth – I somehow stopped loving these people too? I have been exiled, as far as I know, and not one of these people has reached out to me since this all began. Not one. These people who created my life—as it was at that moment—were suddenly gone. It was like you all disappeared. I was abandoned by all of you.
And you, John … you were the deepest hurt of them all. Your lack of care and empathy has created a chasm in our relationship. Yet you stand firm in your belief that your behavior is justified because your “conscience” made you do it.
By God’s grace I have also been given tremendous support by many people—people who have chosen to walk beside me whether or not they believe my story. They don’t ask me to confine my pain until it’s convenient for them to talk about it. They have stood by me through this nearly life-ending pain and shown me deep, compassionate, unwavering love. They have held me as I cried in agony, picked me up out of the pit, and never once did I question their loyalty. They have fought like warriors in battle, relentlessly pursuing truth and justice and helping me see that my life is worth living. Without them I would not be where I am today. In fact, it is because of them that I am still alive, dear brother. And until you understand what they understand, I just don’t see this going anywhere good.
I am willing to continue if I hear your heart for me is honest and caring.
Our relationship waits for your real empathy.