When An Abuser Dies

Mar 20th, 2012 | By | Category: All Posts, Incest

When an Abuser Dies

by Christina Enevoldsen & Bethany

Bethany: A few months ago, I got word from a family member that my paternal grandmother was found unconscious in the middle of the night and rushed to the hospital. She had suffered a brain hemorrhage and was on a ventilator as her heart rate began to slow. The doctors weren’t optimistic that anything could be done.

I didn’t know her well. I spent a summer visiting my father’s parents when I was ten but the rest of my relationship with them was quick phone calls throughout my childhood. As my grandma got older, she began to forget who I was, so our relationship dwindled in my teens.

Years ago, my dad told me that both of his parents had sexually abused him. When he was eight years old, they took him into their bedroom and taught him to have sex with his mother while my grandfather watched. What they did to him made me sick and angry with my grandparents.

My dad learned this sick addiction from them. The repercussions of their choices affected more than just their victim; it affected his victims as well. Because of them, my dad sexually abused me for the length of my childhood.

Every time I heard of one of my grandparent’s health scares, I hoped that they would die. I wanted them to finally rot in hell for what they did. When I first heard about Grandma being on her deathbed, I was thrilled that another child molester would be gone. I kept thinking, “Hahaha! One down. Just a few more to go!” Then she finally passed away and I was glad. I thought my mom would feel the same way.

Christina: In my twenty-one years of marriage to Bethany’s dad, I had a good relationship with his mother. The woman I knew was kind, gentle, generous, funny and hard-working. But I also knew another side to her. Early in our marriage, my ex-husband told me about the sexual abuse he endured for most of his childhood.

At the time, I thought of his abuse the same way I thought of my own sexual abuse by my father. I figured it was something that happened a long time ago and I tried to forget about it. With both my dad and mother-in-law, I reasoned that since they were nice people, they must be sorry. It seemed to make life easier to think about their better qualities instead of the horrible things that they did to their own children.

Over the years of my healing, I began to view abusers much differently. Healing required me to confront the truth. Before, I thought sexual abuse happened the same way hurtful words sometimes slip from my mouth. I never mean to cause any harm but when I do, I feel awful about it and take responsibility. But sexual abuse is never a “slip”. Through my new lens of truth, I saw that sexual abusers plan and scheme, seducing their victims to submit and to keep their secret. Not only do they blame their victims, but through their words and actions, they convince their victims to accept the blame. Child molesters are particularly interested in self-preservation and willingly sacrifice the child’s physical and emotional health to protect themselves. They are not “nice” people who simply do bad things.

If my mother-in-law was sorry for what she did, she never owned up to her abuse nor apologized for it. When she learned of Bethany’s abuse by her son, she never showed any concern for Bethany’s wellbeing. Even though she was abused herself, that didn’t change the fact that she destroyed her son’s life and nearly destroyed her granddaughter’s life. Being a victim of abuse doesn’t make someone a perpetrator, so her history is no excuse. Even though she had good qualities, they don’t cancel out the abuse.

I had an idea of what my reaction to her death would be. I thought I would see things rationally and logically with a little emotion (the “right” emotion) mixed in. In my mind, I would look on her death with a kind of satisfaction, knowing that she wouldn’t be hurting anyone else. I expected to feel relief that the Ruck Family had one less abuser in it. I thought I would feel detached from her death, as though she was a stranger.

Bethany was the one who told me Grandma Ruck had finally passed away. A wave of grief hit me in my chest. I was sad that her chance at life was over. I was glad that her suffering didn’t last long. She would be missed—not by me, but by her family—and I was sorry for them.

My grief was interrupted by the elation in Bethany’s voice and I wanted to get away from her celebratory mood. I understood her feelings, and acknowledged to myself how healthy they were, but I needed space to process my feelings.

Bethany: To me, this was a victory and I wanted everyone to celebrate with me, so I felt confused that my mom could feel sad about this horrible person dying.

Christina: I was confused by my reaction too. It certainly wasn’t what I expected. I was unsure if my compassion came from my old unhealthy belief system or if it was a result of my healing. Maybe I could feel compassion because abusers don’t feel like a threat to me anymore. Maybe working through all the fear and anger and pain allowed me to see more than just an abuser in my ex-mother-in-law.

My years of childhood abuse groomed me to identify more with abusers than I did with myself. I cared more about protecting them, taking care of them, guarding their feelings, much more than I did my own. Were my emotions an effect of my abuse? I was afraid that feeling bad for this dead woman was an indication that I was being sucked back into the abusive system that I’d worked so hard to escape. It felt like a betrayal of my daughter and of me and all victims.

Bethany: The next day I began to feel sadness—a sadness for the life that could have been. I couldn’t help but think that this sexual perpetrator was once a young, sweet, innocent girl, who was probably abused herself. I found myself asking, “Why did she have to choose that path? Why did she have to cause so much pain?”

Christina: My feelings alternated the next day too. I read on Facebook what other family members felt about her and it felt so unjust that they were praising her. I wanted to scream the horrible things she’d done and tell them what kind of a woman she really was. I hated that a person like her would be honored.

Bethany: My cousins’ responses to our grandma’s medical condition irked me, “Grandma was a wonderful person and I’m happy that she will be with Jesus soon. I pray she transitions peacefully.”

I was disgusted! I wanted them to realize that the grandma they knew as “wonderful” was actually a vile child molester. I was so angry that she would be remembered as a good person when her actions led to my childhood being ripped away from me.

Over the next week, I felt a flurry of emotions—sometimes alternating feelings came in little waves and other times they all came at once. It was confusing to feel both hatred and mercy for someone at the same time.

I had played out the scenario of her death in my head for years so I could process those emotions. What I imagined was both relief and indifference. My actual reactions involved a larger depth of emotion and that scared me.

The hardest part was feeling like I wasn’t supposed to have certain emotions. I shouldn’t be happy that someone died, but I shouldn’t feel compassion for an abuser. I wanted to be somewhere in the middle. Before I could get there, I had to feel both extreme emotions and not one way or the other.

Over the course of this emotional journey I began to recognize the emotional extremes as part of the process. Instead of being alarmed by how polarized my feelings were, I started to see them as indications of my process. There were many facets to my relationship with my grandmother, therefore, there would be a variety of emotions to go with them.

Christina: One of the ways I’ve grown in the past few years is in acknowledging and expressing my emotions. After so many years of being emotionally shut down because of my abuse, it was a luxury to feel even one emotion. Earlier in my healing, it never occurred to me that I could have two emotions at the same time, much less conflicting ones. As my feelings gradually blossomed, whenever I’d experience two seemingly opposing emotions, I’d go round and round, trying to sort them out so I could eliminate one and officially own only one of them.

Now I’m comfortable feeling a variety of emotions at the same time and I can accept them and express them without acting on them. The range of emotions didn’t bother me, but the softness I felt for a sexual predator did.

In my struggle to find the answers to this compassion question, I was forgetting that my healing isn’t about what happens outside of me. In typical abuse survival style, I was focusing too much attention on the abuser instead of on myself. Now I’m content knowing that even if I do have compassion for abusers, it’s how I feel about myself that is the most important. Even I if I discover some unhealthy motives for showing abusers compassion, I’m solid in compassion for myself and I’ll never act outside of that. I’ll never choose to protect an abuser over protecting me or anyone else. I’ll never think an abuser’s feelings are more important than mine. I may not be finished with this process, but I’m providing myself a safe place to work through it.

Now that you’ve heard our experiences and thoughts about this, we’d love to hear yours. Please comment below and don’t forget to subscribe to the comments so you can continue to partake in the discussion.

Related Posts:
Understanding My Abusive Parents Didn’t Heal Me
The Truth About Blame
My Parents Are Dead (To Me)
Forgetting About Abuse: Who Does That Really Serve?

Christina Enevoldsen

I’m Christina Enevoldsen and I’m the cofounder of Overcoming Sexual Abuse and the author of The Rescued Soul: The Writing Journey for the Healing of Incest and Family Betrayal. My passion is exploring new ways to express my empowered new life. I’ve recently discovered the joy of waterslides, the delightful scented lotion from Bath & Body Works, “Dark Kiss” and hosting princess tea parties for my granddaughters. My husband and I live in Scottsdale, Arizona and share three children and six grandchildren.


Bethany, along with her mother, Christina Enevoldsen, is the cofounder of Overcoming Sexual Abuse, an online resource for male and female abuse survivors looking for practical answers and tools for healing. Besides helping abuse survivors see the beauty within themselves, she enhances the beauty of others as a professional make-up artist and has worked in television, film and print. She lives in Los Angeles.

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  1. That post is great! Thank you <3

  2. This mixture of feelings I can identify with. My dad (my abuser) died 6 years ago. I am 53, I still have issues around it. I still saw him right up to his death. I always made sure that I never was alone with him at night as he tried over the years to still abuse me. He said he loved me! He once apologised for what he did when we talked late one night. He too had a corrupt childhood

    I dont grieve for him, I cant!

  3. Welcome to OSA, Nikky!

  4. So your mother and daughter? x

  5. Brenda,
    My dad was my primary sexual abuser and with his health deteriorating and his memory failing, I’m experiencing a whole lot of mixed emotions. One of them is that I’m outraged that he’s softened and weakened, as though he never could have done those awful things to me. For a few weeks after I had an update about him through another family member (since I don’t have contact with my parents anymore), I had a new emotion almost everyday. It’s very complicated! Thanks for sharing your experience and welcome to OSA!

  6. Brenda, yes, Bethany is my daughter. We started this organization together. You can find out more about us in our “about” section if you’re interested.

  7. wow! my sexually abusive dad is not in very good health, and neither is my violent mother, so I will eventually have a double dose of this to deal with!!

  8. BC825,
    Bethany and I got a double dose of this too–actually triple. We’re not ready to share the rest yet, but it’s definitely been rough to deal with all of this together. I hope when that time comes for you, that you have plenty of loving support.

  9. BC825,
    We sure did get a triple dose of it. A lot of victims have multiple abusers, so it seems like an issue that will probably have to be faced, and faced, and faced. I had one main abuser, but there were so many people who covered up the abuse or other perpetrators, people who too thier sides, etc. Each person that falls ill will be a new process.

  10. Thank you for standing up!
    I feel like I finally able to find a strength in here to face this pain.
    I left my family, my country to escape from my father.
    I feel much safer now and able to sleep at night without a fear of being touched by him..
    Also I have much less panick attack now.
    He later became depression, which is to me, he looks like avoinding the fact what he did to me.
    He’s already dead on my mind, but there will be anger if he dies without his apology.

    But as you said, only avoiding to face this pain doesn’t solve anything. I need more strength!
    Please guide me to the better life..or could be said normal life…

  11. All of my abusers, as far as I know, are dead. The last one to be identified was my Dad. I nursed him through his final illness – I was a better daughter to him than he was a father to me. At the time, I would not have identified him as abusive, but 4yrs later, I am now becoming aware of some of the things he did.
    When he became terminally ill I was furious with him. I felt so used – here I was having to take responsibility for him again. I am an only child, so short of putting him in a nursing home, there was no one else. Actually I would have had to hate him much more than I did/do to have done that to him. But it was hard – I was so angry that he was such a weak piece of humanity. I was disgusted and repulsed by his lack of self care, his lack of respect for himself AND me. I was angry that he had cheated me out of a proper childhood relationship with a real Dad.
    When he died I was exhausted and relieved. I was glad he was gone out of my life at last. I have not grieved for him since – I did my grieving for my Dad when I was a child…..
    I could not heal while he was alive, he remained emotionally abusive to me to the end…. since his death I have fallen apart and gone into therapy – whcih I needed for the last 40 odd years. I have discovered that he too was an abused child – my grnadmother was a nasty piece of work. I can feel compassion for his suffering as a child, but I cannot forgive him for, knowing that, not acting appropriately as an adult towards me as his child. An apology for him would not have changed anything – I would not have believed him, and he would not have thought it necessary to change his behaviour or get help.
    Yesterday was the 4th anniversary of his death – I have just remembered that…. I have spent that past month raging and furious over his treatment of me throughout my life. I have found some small things of his still in my house – and expressed my anger in their destruction/removal from my home. It felt good, really good. Yesterday , in therapy, I expressed compassion for him. Confused? You bet – and no doubt there is more to come. But he is gone – I remain.

  12. Thank you, Christina and Bethany.

  13. all my abusers are dead too…when my partners father died (before we were together) he was asked to speak at the funeral and all they were all praising him etc…..my bf got up there and saidwho are you talking about…this man was a brutal monster…..it is a sad story but it helped in some ways to say that I think….

  14. Hi Christina and Bethany, thank you for sharing your story. When one of my abusers died, I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t even feel anything for my sister who’s father was the abuser. We have the same mother but different father. My sister prior to my abuser dying asked me one time if it was true what her father did to me. He never got the chance to abuse her because our mom left him before she got to be around the age he liked to abuse them at and maybe he wouldn’t have abused her because she was his flesh and blood but I do know and remember he abused me the whole seven years my mother was with him. It started with physical abuse then sexual abuse when I started to develop at the age of ten. I have recently confronted another abuser and he didn’t apologize. He just ignored what I said. I also told this abuser I knew what he did to my mom, his own sister and he still was silent. He can be silent as much as he wants but knowing that he now knows that I know and remember feels good enough for me. I imagine now how scared he must be that he will be found out and possibly charges could be laid if I went down that route. Does that make me a bad person?

  15. Christina and Bethany. What a beautiful story! Thank you so much for having the courage to share! I will share my story one day. Right now it is hard to put into words because my emotions are so raw. I too had very conflicted feelings when my abuseer died. I will share it with you one day. Thank you so much!

  16. Christina/Bethany – thanks for sharing some of your story. When my father died about 7 years ago i was so relieved. Even though he didnt sexually abuse me, he abused me in almost every other way. I lived in fear that he would show up at our house with a shotgun one day and kill my wife and I because he had threatened to do that on the phone. I have gone through a range of emotions since his passing. A lot of anger that he was allowed to live 84 years and continued to abuse people right up until his death. I had wanted him to die for a long time. he was a compulsive liar and manipulator and extremely verbally and emotionally abusive my whole life until he died. I am 48. the cousin who sexually abused me is still alive. I have had a lot of anger towards him but think i have worked through it all. You never really know for sure but i have a lot of pity for him as i know that he will suffer immensely once he dies if he does not change his ways. My heart has softened towards him and my father over the years. I was molested 40 years ago and didnt tell anyone until i was about 25. i have had a lot of difficulty with intimacy with my wife (married 10 years) mostly related to being sexually abused. As a male its hard to find men to talk to about this. No other man that i know has ever told me that he was sexualy abused except one. I know there are others, but no one else has ever brought it up. Most of the shame i carry is from terrrible emotional, verbal and spiritual abuse by my parents throughout my childhood and well into my adult years. Keep up the good work and thanks again for sharing !

  17. Thank you for this. It brought back memories of when my father died. The conflict I felt over this grief. I remember not knowing how to grieve, buying a book on grief and finding that didn’t answer my questions

  18. Thank you for sharing.. kind of experiencing this now. 16 years after his death. Comforting to see I’m not the only one. It’s so hard to understand. The following is a post from my blog on March 9th.. just to let you know we are multiple as you will see in our writting.

    I guess we’re grieving my father’s death. It’s really confusing and hard. We never did grieve his death when we were younger. When we found out he had died we didn’t feel anything… Nothing. We didn’t care. We didn’t go to the funeral either. That I understand, I get that, how we reacted then. He abused us badly, physically, sexually, and emotionally… Why would we care he had passed? Why would we feel anything other than relief? Which I didn’t, I was as numb and blank as possible. After destroying us the way he did why would it matter? The really really hard part is what we are experiencing now, 16 years later.

    Some of us inside didn’t really know or believe he is dead. At my last therapy session R talked about some of her and Ru’s memories, but they were good memories of him. She cried. R has been flip-flopping between deep pains of loss and deep fits of rage.Ru has been told our father is dead in the past but R’s find the other day was real proof for her also. She loves daddy. Everyone has always protected her the most it seems. Of those of us who knew him she probably experienced the least amount of abuse and she doesn’t really even know it was abuse. I don’t even think she acknowledges it as bad. She struggles mostly with the abandonment from him and she longs for daddy.

    It’s really hard for me to feel and understand their feelings. I feel guilty for those feelings. I feel bad and sick and just mad about those feelings. It feels very wrong to miss, and love, and long for him. It feels wrong to grieve for him. I don’t get it, I really don’t right now. Yet here we are grieving. I keep trying to make sense of it all but I realize that nothing has ever made sense with him, none of it. So, I’m beginning to realize that it probably will never make sense. I have no idea how to accept that. How do I accept feelings of love and hate toward him? How do I just let it be like that? It doesn’t fit in with my black and white thinking nor is there a gray which everyone says to strive for.

    Therapist was talking about doing a thing where all of us would have an opportunity to say what we needed to him, like a grieving/closure thing. I don’t feel at this moment we can or are ready. You see it’s the same dilemma. It’s about what that grieving/closure thing (I forget what she called it) would mean to us.

    1. To some it means we will truly have to accept and grieve that he IS dead. Which he is but still it’s like we won’t accept it. We would truly wholeheartedly have to accept and assimilate the pain of our loss. That pain includes the acceptance and acknowledgement of our love for him.

    2. To some it seems like it would mean a type of forgiveness. This there’s no way in hell we’d agree to. Requiring a letting go of our rage, anger, and hatred towards him, which we won’t do either. That rage and anger is completely valid and deserves to be there… Needs to be there.

    We are grieving and fighting grieving… How will we get through this?

  19. Amy,
    I understand wanting an apology from your abuser. All I got from my dad was lies about me. I’m thankful that my healing doesn’t have anything to do with him or what he does or doesn’t do. I don’t need anything from him (which is good since I’m not getting anything from him.)

    I’m glad you feel safe now and feel ready to face your pain. You’re worth everything you put into your healing.

  20. Libby,
    I can relate to feeing sorry for your abuser, knowing he was abused too. I’ve known all about my dad’s abusive childhood as far back as I can remember and I had more compassion for him than I did for me. I wrote about my process with that in another post if you’re interested in reading it:

    I had to separate me from my dad and only think about what he did to me and how that damaged me. Then I did what you’re doing and acknowledged and expressed my anger without being concerned about how he became like that. That has been very freeing and validating. It sounds like you’re feeling that way too.


  21. Dawn, good for your partner! That takes a lot of guts to do that.

  22. dance on his grave

  23. Dawn, that’s amazing that your partner did that! How did that make your feel?

    Denise, I don’t think wanting vindication makes you a bad person. He didn’t validate your feelings. He didn’t own up to anything. He didn’t seem sorry.

    Dave, thanks for sharing. It’s amazing the range of emotions we go through with abusers. I too have felt some of that softening of the heart at times.

  24. Stanley,
    I’m glad you’re giving yourself time before you share your story. I used to ignore my own feelings in an effort to heal my emotions (ironic!) and push myself too much. It only hurt me more. Good for you for being good to yourself.

  25. Katy,
    I know what you mean about that book not being very helpful. I haven’t read very much helpful info on dealing with this topic. It’s hard to find sources that explain and validate the deluge of conflicting emotions.

  26. Invizible Pain,
    Thank you for sharing your feelings about your experience with this. I’m glad you know you’re not alone.

  27. So, Christina, how does one become a life coach, anyway?

  28. I know my storey doesnt seem as haneous as others I have read, but I still feel exactly the same emotions as other victims. It is only now, 10 years later that I have even aknowledged those past events as a part of my past…as soon as he moved away I never thought about the abuse ever again. Now that this person who once abused me has returned to our province this has caused me the worst pain and suffering I have ever allowed myself to feel! I struggle with remembering what happened exactly, I just recall certain moments in time when the abuse was happening, and some memories are blurry or hard to process? I am 25 years old and I have hopes that I can tell my Father what happened to me when I was 14…
    My step brother whom was 30 at the time, I was 14, I lived with my father and step-mother. My step mom moved into my family home with my father after my parents separated. (They werent married yet) Her son was staying with us I believe trying to find work in the area, and a home for his spouse who was pregnant at the time. My step brother seemed to understand my mixed emotions of separated families, he became someone I could talk to, and someone I trusted. He would ask me to sit outside with him at night after our parents would have settled in for the night, while he had a smoke, and he would ask me personal questions… like sexually related questions.. I was a virgin at the time, never even knew what the male anatomy looked like or anything, never had a boyfriend before either. He would have me touch his penis and make him hard, he showed me his tattoo that he told me he had which was on the side of his penis, he told me he used to be a male stripper and that would get a lot of attention because of his tattoo…I was very uncomfortable and akward when he would do this, I just still can’t understand how the hell I allowed this person to do this to me over and again!! I remember he would try and touch me, but my memory gets vague and difficult to recall….There was a time when his wife walked in on the 2 of us, I had just came up stairs from having a shower and just had a towel on, he called me to his room at the other end of the hallway he said he had to talk to me…He then tried to get my towel off, I was very uncomfortable and I was being modest trying to stop this – then suddenly his wife walked in on that very moment!! I felt like I was going to be sick, he looked at me as he went after her, and I told him I wouldn’t tell anyone… I didn’t want to get into trouble! I wanted to cry. I felt like everyone would blame me and that it would be my fault his wife left him with their new baby. When my parents heard the commotion, as his wife stormed out of our house, my dad came to me and stated “What happened Samantha? What happened? Tell me what happened??!!! Marilyn (my step mom) and I can’t be together if something happened!!??” I choked- I immediatley thought about my dad’s happiness before mine – I wanted to tell him what my step brother was making me do and what he had done to me…but I couldn’t I liked my step mom – I couldnt go through another seperation, my Mom just left my father, and that was hard on me. I didnt want to risk losing my step mom -and be the blame for my dads unhappiness 🙁 After my step brother moved away with his family I would hardley ever think about what happened, and just carried on in life. Carried on as if nothing ever happened to me….
    Until Today – My step brother has moved back after 10 years of being away, him and his wife split up, my nightmare begins all over…its like hes some kind of God!! Everyone in my step- family just idolizes him! Meanwhile he has never once visited nor given a care about anyone here for 10 years, My father takes him fishing and treats him well, meanwhile no one knows what that creep did to me!!!! If my father knew the kind of person this guy really is, he wouldnt want him around!! Now its a matter of “How” do i tell my father that his wife’s son abused his young daugther!??? I need help, please, I just started seeing a cousellor, its affected me personally, at work, my whole life feels like im stressed right out! I saw these cheesy/fake comments on Facebook from my step brothers “new” girlfriend to my Dad and step mom, and I reacted to her phoney comments and now my whole family has seemed to turn on me becuase they dont understnad where my anger is stemming from….BUT my step brother has the nerve to message me on Facebook, stating “There are times one should think Samantha, this being one of them, my fathers are Jim (My dad) and Glen (His dad).” He knows – hes the only one who realizes where my anger is coming from, which is probably why he decided to email me and say that comment to me, because he can clearly see that I am pissed off by what happened to me! And he sees that it might mess things up because I’m at the verge of telling my dad what happened to me.
    I’m afraid of what is going to happen, how my father will react, and how I will even tell my Step mom – I dont know what the best way of telling them, will be …. Id like to tell my dad in private becuse my step mom has be trayed me many times and I dont trust her anymore. Especially now that this involves her son. I’m so angry that the onus is now on me! That im the bearer of Bad news! That i might be the reason why my dad and his wife split up – I just dont know how to forget about everyone elses feelings and start caring about my own feelings instead and do whats best for me – Please help..please help me break the ice and tell my dad what happened to me 🙁

  29. I’ll tell you the worst part of an abuser who dies. When everybody gets up there at the funeral and tells biiig huuge lies about who the person in the casket was, and you’re supposed to sit there like a lamp post and listen to the crap spew out of their mouths like the pea soup in the Exorcist.
    And then, when you get back to the house where you normally stuff yourself with food in order to eat away the pain, then you’ve got to listen to one of the family members threaten to “beat the shit out of people who say the abuser actually abused them.”
    And this was prompted from NOTHING, b/c nobody had even SAID anything about her doing what she DID TOO DO.
    That’s not a family grieving IMO.
    That’s a three-ring circus to which I had a ticket for front row center.

  30. Vicki B:
    I am so very sorry you had to go through that! It sounds horrible!! Do you have someone you can talk to about all the feelings you are going through (or at least a safe avenue for journaling?) It helps so much, when one can get those feelings out in the open!

  31. SamanthaL,
    What your step-brother did to you was awful!!! I’m sorry you experienced that, but I’m glad you’re addressing it now. You deserve to heal. I hope your father gives you the support and understanding that you need from him. I wrote a post about my disclosure history and what I learned from it: http://overcomingsexualabuse.com/2010/08/19/how-do-i-disclose-my-abuse/

    Let us know how it goes with your father.

  32. BC825, there’s a lot of info on coaching if you google it. I’m not a life coach and neither are any of the admins on OSA.

    Vicki B,
    I agree that it’s really hard to hear people defending the abuser. I couldn’t ever attend a funeral for the abusers in my family. There’s no way I could sit through such garbage. They aren’t family to me anyway.

  33. I have all types of journals; unfortunately, I don’t know if I’ve ever done it the right way. I mean I don’t know if there’s a right vs. a wrong way to journal, but I’ve never been able to feel the feelings one would NORMALLY feel after such a thing as abuse occurred – except anger of course. But before she died, I couldn’t even feel that. Then my so-called Aunt Rosemary (she’s never acted like what I think an Aunt would do; I have nephews and nieces, but I’d never even dream of threatening them with physical violence) threatened to beat the shit out of anybody who said anything bad about our mom (her sister) and all the feelings that might have come forth after the anger dried up or disappeared.
    I have a really difficult time containing the anger feeling. It’s there whether I want it or not. I used to be a full-time Paramedic, and we would see all this abuse garbage every single week, sometimes multiple times. It got so bad recently that even another paramedic had a problem with it. She’s never been abused, she admitted so in the talks we had afterwards, and couldn’t understand the overwhelming need these people have that would make them do such things. I thought, ‘Just imagine what you’d feel if it WERE you.’ But I didn’t know any other feeling but anger.
    Having it actually helps me on the job. In terms of ignoring the people involved, most of whom stand there and threaten the lives and physical safety of the medics while never even considering that THEY might be the ones with the problem. Not everybody else. I don’t know about anyone else, but I think abusers have an unbelievable arrogance, in terms of why they would even FEEL superior. It’s beYOND me, b/c thinking they’re superior is the LAST thing I’d ever say about them.

    But all those people who were making my mom into Saint Frances Violet were also abused by her, except maybe Aunt Rosemary. I don’t know about her and I no longer care about her, b/c I don’t believe one will go around threatening physical harm on people they REALLY care about. I don’t believe she really cares about me. But the point is that 7 other people were abused by that woman and they still gave her a lie of a funeral.
    My oldest sister said you have to “love her despite her actions.” Even though she didn’t love the dad, who ALSO did that.
    It doesn’t make any sense to me. If I try to journal for very long, I come to some dichotomy like that, as it’s called in mental health terminology, but is just a contradiction in layperson’s terms. But the contradiction confuses me enough that I no longer know how to feel.
    I honestly don’t know how to feel anything but the anger. It’s the only emotion that’s not a contradiction IMO.
    The whole thing is confusing, so it wouldn’t surprise me if my post sounds confusing.

  34. Vicki B:
    There is no one “normal” way to feel about the things tat have happened to you. I honestly believe that any reaction a person has to such horrible experiences is normal – Your mind just tries to find SOME way or path to deal with it, and different minds choose different avenues.
    And, as for being confused, that is the most normal reaction of all! I hope that you continue to work at your recovery, and are able to heal.
    May God bless you on your journey…

  35. The biological father I was unlucky to have had as my custodian died recently.
    He molested me and my siblings.
    I was not sad when he died, and I haven’t had any change in feelings.
    I wish he had killed himself a long time ago.
    He said he’d once been suicidal, but thought to himself-I’ll never see snow again-and that stopped him.
    The snow he would look at through the window of his little daughter’s bedroom-who he was raping.
    Poignant image, isn’t it?
    I’m glad one more child molester is dead, I wish I could’ve put him in prison, and that’s it.
    No other feelings.
    Oh, his ashes were tossed in the ocean, and I’m sorry about that.
    It kind of taints the ocean for me, and I always liked the ocean.

  36. Jessica,
    I understand those feelings. I remember feeling like I didn’t want to share the same planet with my dad. The snow image that you described reminds me of how much it’s all about them–that all that matters is what matters to them. Everything they say and do is so discounting. Thanks for sharing your feelings.

  37. Jason Smith,
    I don’t publish offensive comments, but for the answer to your questions, read “Confessions of a Child Molester’s Wife.”

  38. I too hope to show up at my abusers funeral one day to dance on his grave. He was abused as a child too… how do they not learn what not to do? My Grandmother recently died & she was there while I was being abused but wouldn’t believe it happened under her nose.. He took advantage of her being naive & trusting him.

    My son, 8 at the time, was sexually abused pretty much the same way as my abuser. School children (while at school in the restroom) & I have helped him, cried with him, & talked openly with him about this. So sad this is still happening & right under our noses. I don’t let my kids out of my sight other than when they are in school, b/c of my abuse. I don’t understand how it happens under teachers noses. It’s a scary world. As a mother I feel helpless to the dangers around them.

    Anyone else have children they are also helping through this. Any insights for a young man going through the pain of this? Thank you!

  39. Danielle,
    I supported my own daughter through her healing and I know how painful that is. There are a few posts on this site for parents of survivors. I know that you’re a survivor too so some of it would seem unnecessary to point out, but that’s not usually the case. I think most of the parents who discounted or rejected us were also abused, so that doesn’t automatically make them good supporters.


    I hope that helps.

  40. I felt a lot of ambivalence toward both of my parents when I was a teenager and young adult. I didn’t understand how I could love my dad when I also hated him for sexually abusing me. I loved the dad that I prayed he could become. When I started healing, I had to let go of that fairy tale. He wasn’t ever going to love me the way I needed him too. He was focused only on sex and I was his object of desire. That was all he cared about, not me, not my emotional development into a very confused young woman. He died 6 January 2000. The only way that I could feel compassion for him was to look at the wounded child, the hurting little boy that he must have been. I did grieve when he died. I grieved for the relationship that we could have had but never did. I grieved for the hurting little boy that he must have been who grew into the raging, selfish, controlling, frightened person that I had as a dad. By that time, I had long known that people who control are very frightened and believe that if they are in control of everything and everyone around them then they can pretend that they aren’t afraid. I felt sorry for him because he had become such a hateful man that no one wanted to be around him. He died alone, living in an old bus sitting on the side of a small rural road. I felt sad for the man that he had become. I had not had any contact with my dad for over 10 years when he died. It took the police a week to fine me, as the oldest daughter. An alcoholic friend of his knew my husband’s aunt and mother. My mother-in-law contacted me. The best that I could do for my dad was to have his body cremated and I spread his ashes along a creek bank that was his favorite fishing hole. I didn’t feel obligated to pay for an expensive funeral for him. I invited his siblings and mother to come forward at the funeral home if they had anything good that they wanted to share about him. The sad thing is nobody said anything. His rage and meanness had pushed everyone but one friend who was also an alcoholic out of his life. His girlfriend abandoned him when he ran out of money. He died an angry old man at the age of 67. At his funeral, I couldn’t pretend to feel or to be something that I wasn’t. His friend was upset that I didn’t give my dad a proper burial. He didn’t know the same man that I did.

  41. Patricia,
    Thank you for sharing that. I remember reading about your complicated grieving process some time ago on your blog, which is when I started thinking about that and preparing myself. I appreciated you writing about that since it’s not something that I hear about very often.

    Though I haven’t had to face the death of my dad yet, I got a taste of what I’d feel when I heard that his health was failing. I felt a whole mixture of emotions and it occurred to me what a lonely place that might be. I don’t think there are many people who would understand my feelings. Those who believe that my dad is an abuser wouldn’t understand my grief and those who don’t believe he’s an abuser wouldn’t let me grieve with them. Whatever my feelings are at that time, I know I’ll validate them and comfort myself through it.

  42. Christina, yes, grieving can be a complicated process because our feelings are complicated, especially when our abusers are also our parents. When that time comes for you, I will be here if you need someone to listen who does understand. Learning to validate my own feelings took time. Grief isn’t easy and it is necessary to our process of healing and living since we all die at some point.

  43. Thanks, Patricia!

  44. When my Dad died we were enstranged for 10 years, I felt his spirit and he came to me in a godly way and he gave me a big bear hug. I wrote a letter for my sister to bring the day before he died saying I forgive him (for enabling)Everything was forgiven in that precious moment.
    When my brother abuser died I knew it too, his spirit tried to lay with me one last time. My arms felt bound and I was paralyzed until I said no satan release me! Then I was freed.
    When Mom died I said the Our Father out of respect for her Catholic beliefs. But I didn’t feel her spirit, there was no goodbye’s from her on the other side. Later after leaning she left me off the will, even after reconciliation, I knew why. She was dead in her soul before she died. The narccicist not only devastated me but my children who she promised would be set. In the end she hated me for outing the abuse so much so she emotionally pulled the rug out from all of us. I was not shocked by they still are. She always told them they were her fav’s and how she left things make them wonder were they ever or just used for pawns in her hate scheme.
    How she left things made me dead to my siblings. They are enjoying the fruits of their deceptions and have money to burn travelling the world living it up. They bemoan and cry to others they miss me, lost me again.
    I tell anyone who gives me that load of crap, show me the money, if it isn’t about the money then they should share. I am disabled and destitute and they know that. They know I was diagnosed with incest abuse syndrome and suffer crippling symptoms due to abuse and beatings, but they have no empathy. I get on the road to wellness and then another incident with a realtive they have gaslighted interfere’s until I block them from contact, but it takes time to go through the stinking process again. I am done with that whole side of that family. None of them can be trusted, they are all from the same cloth.
    If only I had the guts to go on Doctor Phil and out their sorry asses in public once and for all! lol

  45. Freedom – thanks for sharing your story…so sorry for what you have been through…my story is similar to yours. I think those of us who were abused, lied to, manipulated and betrayed have a whole in our heart as large as the earth…i did everything for my parents and my father left his insurance policy to my alcoholic and drug abusing sister who wasted it all away…she did have the decency to give me $2k while she kept $30 k for herself…i thought it should have been split equally…my father hated me even tho i did nothing but love him and try and please him my whole life. I have never heard of incest abuse syndrome. It sounds terrible. I hope you can recover from this…dont give up ! I had to go no contact with all of my family a few years ago. None of them are healthy. They are all either alcholics or drug addicts or addicted to tranquilizers…the holidays can be a tough time without family. Feel free to reach out to me at: wavevcu@yahoo.com if you want. I will try and remember you in my prayers.

    God bless,


  46. My heart doesn’t know what to feel

  47. Gentle hugs to you, Lori.

  48. Hello there i have just read your story as i am trying to understand my own emotions and thoughts,i was sexually abused 1 time to my knowledge at the age of 12,it wasnt anything violent or particularly nasty,but it did shatter my ability to trust and love,it also gave me a heightened senses of people wanting to hurt me,this kept me relatively safe in the years that followed when i was trying to obliterate myself with drink and drugs.
    Here i am 20 years later and the one man in my life who i trust implicitly and love with no bounds has died,he was my grandfather from my mothers side,i found this very hard to deal with and then i find out my abuser wants to come to my grandfathers funeral to support my parents,the abuser is my stepfathers dad,i feel he wanted to come to make sure i dont break down and reveal his dirty little secret.
    Ive carried this for 20 years it has nearly killed me several times and it has almost destroyed my relationship with the mother of my children whom i love dearly,however i sometimes feel she is attacking me and saying things that she is quite simply not doing,my reaction to which is very destructive…i am looking to find help although i do not feel strong enough to shed light to my family even though i know it will answer many questions they have had over the last 20 years my partner knows and now i feel guilty for passing over some of the burden to her,if you have any suggestions or advice it would be greatly received,councilling did help a little but it did not help me process the emotions,infact it made it worse because i was uncovering emotions i had never known before and was unable to deal with those so i ended up with even more weight,i did also encounter many forms of abuse as a child,mental and physical just added to the pain of sexual abuse..i have no desire to transfer my burdon to other children and i am firm that my pain ends with me,but i do worry that my reactions to my partner will damage my children in ways i cannot comprehend as yet..apologies for bad grammar and punctuation and thankyou for sharing your terrible ordeal with us.

  49. Marc,
    Thank you for sharing your story. I can relate to the avalanche of emotions coming out after denying them for so many years. I had a hard time with that too. I was used to burying my feelings with all kinds of addictions like working and eating, so I was inexperienced in actually processing them.

    The two most difficult emotions have been the anger and the pain and it’s been a process to learn to handle them in healthy ways. As frightening as my anger was, the pain felt even more threatening. I felt like it would swallow me up so I constantly tried to outrun it. I discovered that running from my pain echoed the same abandonment that I experienced in childhood from my parents. They couldn’t tolerate my pain and left me alone with it. To cope with that, I learned to cover it up and that habit lasted until I started to heal. Every time I refused to acknowledge my hurt, I was denying myself the comfort that I needed. It’s been amazingly validating to be able to sit with my pain and to care for myself the way I should have been cared for as a child.

    The anger has been validating too. It’s a declaration that I deserved to be treated better. Every time I feel anger, it’s a reminder that I’m valuable and worth protecting. It’s meant to signal me and motivate me to protect myself, which I wasn’t allowed to do as a child. There was NO protection then.

    I handle my anger in a variety of ways. Sometimes current situations, usually boundary violations, trigger a much stronger reaction than what the situation really calls for. It’s not just the current situation that I’m feeling, but the unprocessed boundary violations from the past so it comes out strong. My dad used to be really angry and use tiny infractions to really let us have it. I can recognize now that he was waiting for any excuse to release the emotions that were building up and it didn’t have anything to do with me or my brother. Because of that, I’m careful not to make anyone else responsible for my anger. When I need a physical release, I beat my pillow or hit it on the bed or scream into it. I’ve heard a lot of people say they go running or some other strenuous activity. I feel a lot clearer headed once I let it out and it’s easier to sort out what I need to do then.

    Now, I’m good at separating the past from the present and not overreacting, but it’s taken a lot of time. It all started with self-validation. When I learned to listen to myself, I sensed the emotions rising before I felt out of control and that’s helped so much.

    On a semi-related note, you mentioned that you felt guilty for sharing the “burden” of your abuse with your partner. In a healthy, loving relationship, sharing those things isn’t a burden. The things that happened to you were awful and they caused a lot of damage. Trying to hide the effects of the abuse in an intimate relationship can produce a lot of pressure, which only adds to the avalanche of emotions. You don’t have to be strong all the time. You’re important and it’s okay to ask for understanding and patience and compassion.


  50. Thank you for posting this and to all the commenters. Recently my father who molested me for years finally died. Still going through the emotions and deal with the aftermath. Including having so many more flashbacks and suppressed memories come back now that this monster is finally dead. It is comforting to see so many others feeling the same range of emotions – happy, confused, sad at what could have been etc.

  51. thank you for this very moving and touching and also turbulent insight.. I was not sexually abused yet I worked with young children who had been seriously! abused, I hold the the youngsters I worked with very close to my heart, and years on I still have difficulty in coming to terms with these beautiful but very damaged lives that struck me so warmly and the the knowledge of there past.. .. your wonderful bravery and insight was very inspiring…
    thank you..

  52. Wow! You all do not know how valuable this entry and the comments have been to me. I started remembering instances of molestation and incest by my father after he beame ill with Alzheimer’s disease. No matter how often my therapist told me that I was remembering now because it was finally safe to do so, I still believed I had to be insane or some sort of disgusting person for making these things up when my father could not defend himself. Just knowing that other people have had memories after the death of the perpetrator has been enlightening. I feel much better knowing that others have recovered memories in the same way.

  53. Shel,
    I’m so glad you know that you’re not alone and that your situation isn’t unusual. My dad has suffered from deteriorating memory too and when I discovered that, one of the emotions I felt was anger. I felt like I was being mean to stand up to him in his weakened condition. However, I’m not taking advantage or powering over a weaker person the way he did with me when I was a child. I don’t take joy in his suffering but even though I care about his feelings, I’m not backing down from speaking the truth. I’m standing up for what’s right even if it hurts his feelings. It would be good for him to face the truth about what he did to me, so I believe it’s the most loving thing to do for him and for me.

    Thanks for sharing your feelings too.


  54. Hiya,
    My dad was an alcoholic and sexually abused me from the age of 8 till I was 18. Like others I cant believe I was that old but I was scared of him and what he was capable of. I’m now nearly 40. He was a violent sadistic drunk of a man who physically and mentally abused my mum and brothers especially my oldest brother. When he was sober he had a good sense of humour, built things for the garden, taught us how to ride a bike. But even sober he could have a temper. We nicknamed him Jekyll and Hyde.
    My brothers were unaware of my abuse until I had my first child at the age of 26 when I had the overwhelming emotion of being a parent and the love I had for my baby and how ANYONE could hurt their children when all they should do is protect them. It was then that i decided to keep my child safe and cut my dad out my life once and for all. This is when it all came out again. It was spoke about when i ran away from home just after my 19th birthday which is between christmas and new year. but we kept it quiet from my brothers then too. I was ashamed. I also found my relationship with my mother strained as I tried to come to terms with her pleas of “not knowing what was going on” just too hard to believe as my dad had drummed it into me from Day 1 that my mum knew what he was doing. Even though I was an adult by this time I still believed him and couldn’t understand why she let him carry on doing this so in my eyes she ALSO didn’t protect. When I made this decision there was a lot of hoohaa from other family members about why I was stopping my parents being involved with my baby and my life. I was being selfish and god knows what else they said. I still however didn’t let on to the aunts or uncles or cousins as to why. To protect my granny from finding out what a pig of a man her son was. It would have broke her heart. I thought. My immediate family fell apart. My other big brother took a stand with me and disowned my dad. My little brother we kinda shielded at the time from knowing too much. I felt shame and embarrassment so wanted as little/none of our relatives to know. I also had at the back of my mind what my father used to say to me. If I told anyone then I would be put in a home for bad girls, the newspapers would report all about me and nobody would ever talk to me again. This I now know was all mind games to keep me quiet. Anyway, my mum finally decided to leave this man when my son was 2 years old as she chose to have us in her life over him. For her it was the best thing she ever did. We have since been building up a mother daughter relationship but I think I have deep ingrained issues of anger towards her which I get annoyed at myself for. My mum is 70 in September and was with him since she was 22 till she was 59. She’s had an awful life. We have had our issues over the last ten years regarding my abuse but mainly we have moved on. well try to. She keeps bringing it up. I just want to forget about it now. I have an amazing family of inlaws who are all good people and we are all close. It was my mother in law who took me in, away from my father when I had just turned 19 even though my partner and I had only been dating for 2 months. She was a kind of substitute mum when I needed it. She still is. I have since had two more children. All of whom have no idea who my dad is. Like another comment on this website I used to be threatened by my dad that if I ever got pregnant he would come kill me, kill the baby and kill the guy who done it to me. This was a fear I had for a long time. My body was his and he liked to be in control. I tried going to a counsellor but didn’t like the fact they just wanted me to talk. I wanted someone to tell me what to do. That what he did WAS wrong. I needed answers. So luckily I had a terrific bunch of pals who I bonded with over wine and alcohol. And we talked. And talked. And talked. Till eventually some years on I realised I wasnt scared of the brute anymore. I was a grown up and I’d survived and become a strong person. I have an amazing family and amazing friends and best of all an amazing partner (we’ve never married. Who would give me away? Who would traditionally pay for my wedding? Certainly not my paedophile dad.) And three beautiful children. Two boys and a daughter. I dread the time she turns 8 years old and I look at her and feel sick to my stomach.
    Anyway, to get to the point. My dad died on Thursday. Four days ago. I have cried. Ive got angry. I’m confused. I dont understand how I can be sad and upset for a man I hated. Who I feared to bump into in the street. After reading some of these comments I realise that its natural to grieve. For the dad I used to know and if I’m honest…. wish I still had ….. but in a healthy way. But it will never happen. I will never have a normal father daughter relationship where I’m proud of him and someone I was to look up to. I grieve for the relationship I might have had. I feel for my brothers who have their own memories and thoughts which are a million miles from my own. I feel for my auntie and uncles and cousins who knew my dad in a different way. They never had to live with his drunken violent ways. They seen the nice guy. Not the wild man with the selfish jealous wicked attitude.
    I have agonised over it but have made the decision to not attend his funeral. I’ve never had anything to do with him for near 21 years but nearly 14 years for definite. I hated him. He tried to ruin my life. I’ve kept my children from him. I never got him charged as I thought him losing all of us was punishment enough plus I’ve not wanted my children to know. Not yet. However, my auntie, his sister, has expressed her disappointment to my mum in my decision to not attend. My brothers are all going and think I will regret not going. This is causing me huge upset as the last thing I want is to upset them. But I feel I am reliving the whole nightmare all over again as there WILL be questions asked and I dont know if his filthy dirty unforgivable secret will be uncovered. Not by me. But by someone trying to defend me. Ie. My middle brother or my two big cousins both female. We have a really big family. My mum is 100% behind me whatever my decision as is my mother in law and partner. But nevertheless. I am confused. Very. Thanks for reading my huge spiel. Maybe you will have some wise words of wisdom that I could ponder over 🙂 thankyou xxxxx

    . Istill how

  55. Kat,
    Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sorry for all you’ve been through. I’m glad to hear that you have some family support. That’s awesome! I’m also glad that you’re considering your needs right now in this difficult situation. Funerals are for the ones left behind so whatever you think is the best way to grieve for you is the best.

    One of the things that really bothers me is when other people tell me what I’ll regret. It’s so dysfunctional to get THEIR feelings confused with MINE. How can someone else get inside my skin with all my history and emotions and thoughts and predict how I’ll feel about something in the future? That’s just not realistic. Besides, my decisions are mine to make and I’ll live with the results–pleasant or unpleasant.

    The truth is that there will be pain either way. When I’m stuck in indecision, one of the questions I ask myself is, “What would be the most life affirming thing I can do for myself right now?” That’s the direction that has never led to regrets.


  56. My dad’s health started failing about 10 years ago. That was when I decided to try to reconcile with him. However, lately I am remembering how I was 10 years ago and the kind of person I am now. I feel like I was better off then–more emotionally equipped to handle life.

    If it weren’t for my sisters being born in the early 1990s, I would have stopped talking to my dad a long time ago. I’ve been wondering if I made a huge mistake trying to reconcile with him now. His health is getting worse and I’m starting to see traits of what he was like while I was still living at home.

    There was a time when I believed he was genuinely sorry for what he has done. He even seemed to be living somewhat of a healthier life–involving people in it and not isolating himself. Then, I didn’t worry as much. However, the secret is out and social services knows what he has done to me.

    By the way…

    He fled from where I am from to up north when he first found out the crime he committed was investigated. I wonder to this day if he ever did anything to my sisters, but have no way of knowing because they are disabled and can barely even talk. How would I ever know the truth?

  57. First, I would like to thank the both of you for sharing not only this story, but this site as well. I truly admire the courage you’ve shown in giving a platform to this topic society tries to avoid!

    I just recently discovered that my father has terminal cancer. This is the man who began training me at age four to be his personal sex toy after blackmailing my mother for custody at their divorce. I was considered lucky that it was discovered shortly before my 7th birthday, and that he admitted to it so that I wouldn’t have to testify against him. Then again, I imagine it was hard for him to come up with a plausible reason as to how his 6-year-old daughter ended up with ghonnerhea in her throat, which is how everything came to light in the first place.

    That is where my luck seems to have run out though. Ineffectial therapy afterwards has led to nearly 30 years of struggling to cope with what happened, despite the fact that it has never been a secret in my family. Well, my mother’s side at least, as I lost contact with his side until recently. My younger sister has been getting to know a few cousins on that side, and met him for the first time last year. (She was 9 months old when our mother left.)

    According to her, our father regrets what he did, and wishes to apologize before the cancer claims him. My problem is that, even though I know confronting him will help in the long run, I don’t know if I can trust him or the situation. I want to rant and scream at him, and I know that I cannot start to believe his apology until I tell him EXACTLY what he has to apologize for. I want to see him cry. I want to feel the power of being able to hurt him back.

    I want him to know beyond a shadow of a doubt how he nearly destroyed me, and to feel every bit of pain that I have felt.

    I also know that this is an indication of how much healing I still need to do. I’ve tried to do this on my own since I was in my early teens, with obviously mixed results. That road of realisations is a collection of stories unto themselves, but the point where I stand now is nearly overwhelming. On one hand I acknowledge that I’ve carried this too long as it is, the pain of bitter betrayal by the father that I know I once loved and adored. On the other hand, I can’t imagine being able to forgive him for the child he ruined, or the others he affected through me. Mainly the children I had waaayyy too young, and to whom I haven’t been able to properly care for as a result of this.

    I’m not asking advice on this, as I do plan on confronting him if only to get this out. I fully plan to tell him everything his actions have cost me, and see where it goes from there. My sister thinks he’s suffered enough and that I should “not be so harsh”, and gets offended if anyone suggests that the cancer is Karma kicking his @$$. I can’t care though, because when I do see him, it will be for my piece of mind, not his.

    Thanks again for this excellent site, and for the chance to say this without fear of being judged for it.

  58. I couldn’t do a last meeting with my Dad, he molested me emotionally using my brother as the vehicle to play out his own fantasies. I would’ve liked to have the courage to set the whole family straight, but for what good? Obviously they are narcissistic, most abusive families are, they couldn’t do what they do if they had a conscience.
    I sent a letter telling him I forgive him. the family twisted it all those years that I was the black sheep, I set the record straight in that moment, telling him I forgive him but not asking him to forgive me, for what, what any normal person would do, walk away?
    I didn’t owe him that, I owed myself that so I could be free and possibly set him free in his final moments, maybe it brought him clarity or not, it was his to do what he willed with. I didn’t wish him ill will, I didn’t want that on my conscience, I let him go.
    Forcing repentance or going there to let him have it will do harm to you I think. Please rethink it. You have had enough battles I suspect. Let go of the other end of the rope that tethers you to the hurt connected to what happened. You deserve happiness now, you survived, you are here, take back your control. What others do or say is not your fault., never was, especially when you were a child. Let your healing help that child find who she is. Peace!

  59. Last September the man who molested me died.My life went crazy I was happy but all my wounds and damage opened up.Now a year later I’ve embraced my life.I decided on the anniversary of his death to forgive him. I now have some peace,and my life continues to improve.

  60. Today I have had the call that my grandfather died. I feel angry, sad, frustrated but I don’t know why. He raped & a used my mother for all her childhood then she had a breakdown when I was 3 which resulted in her being physically & mentally abusive to me until I left home at 16. We have had a sporadic relationship since & her health has deteriorated. She has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and thinks she is the Virgin Mary. I feel angry that my life turned out this way and that I’ve been robbed of a mother by this man but I know that she has lost her father & I feel sad for her. But I feel angry that my mum never got any answers from him as to why he did this to her. I feel if she had been given some closure it may have helped her illness. I feel wierd today. I can’t get out of bed, I cried all night, I feel angry but sad. I wanted him to have to answer to us about what he did but now it feels like he has had a lucky escape. If anyone can help me I would be so grateful.

  61. The man I use to call papa, which I now refer to him as the bastard, is on his death bed. I identify with many of the feelings that people have posted. One minute I am angry and then what follows is sadness. Why the hell should I be sad that the man who sexually abused me from the time I was 18 months old is dying? Does he not deserve every ache and pain he is experiencing since he is dying of lung and bone cancer? Afteralll, he inflicted the disease upon himself with being a life-long smoker and alcoholic. Then I feel relief…a sense of peace and in some ways justice cause I know he will rot in hell. It’s been a very confusing and frustrating time for me. Some days I feel strong and others I feel weak. I keep going back and forth on if I should go see him on his death bed. Part of me says why give him another ounce of my energy but within second later I think I don’t want to regret having the opportunity to say what I need to say in person. Three years ago I confronted him and my entire family with letters. It’s been a very long journey to healing since I became the black sheep in my family for speaking up and having a voice. I see other family members struggle with this because he abused many people in my family. However, I also get frustrated that everyone else is still bending to his every need. I feel very lost today 🙁

  62. This week I buried my father who sexually abused not only my sister and I but other friends and family.
    When I was 14 my sister, myself and a group of friends approached my mother about the ongoing sexual abuse from my father. She was very good about it, had him leave our home and we then proceeded with three years of court all the way to queens bench with over 41 charges against him.
    For 15 years my father and I lived in the same city blocks apart and never spoke. When trial was underway we had family friends who refused to believe our stories and remained friends with him. I tried during this time to work through my emotions and decided to forgive him but I’m still to this day based on my feelings am not sure I totally have.
    When I found out my father had died I was sad. No one seems to understand that even though the abuse was unacceptable the messed up part is the love for our parent still is there. I felt also anger for how he ruined our family, betrayal for how he ruined the trust that a daughter should be able to have for their father, discust because he could continue to live out his life happily ignoring his past actions by sweeping them under the rug, and empathy that he could be so disturbed and sick in his mind.
    Because my parents were still married and I wanted to relieve my mom from more trauma that she hasn’t even dealt with I became the executor of his estate. I planned, paid, and went to the entire funeral facing his new girlfriend, my family, and long lost family friends who believed his innocence through the process.
    During the service they all came to me and hugged me trying to tell me how good of a man he was. At his viewing I hardly recognized his face. I however will never forget his hands. I remained silent through the service tearing up occasionally between the bouts of anger. Once it was all done and he had been laid to rest in his plot I couldn’t help but feel enraged. I felt as though everyone I saw was pointing the finger and my sister and I for not being a part of his life when the reality is that he had made that choice when he betrayed our sacred trust for him as a father.
    I wish more people could understand this “messed up” emotional roller coaster of feelings when dealing with the death of an abusive parent. It’s a parents job to show us what love is when we are small and the problem is that even though it is an unhealthy example of love it was still love. To this day I don’t know what most people would consider normal love for a father. I don’t know if the love I knew is anything like a normal love for a father.
    It has been 7 days since my fathers passing and I am still on an emotional roller coaster. I appreciate this post because no one understands and sometimes it makes me feel like I’m not entitled to feel so many different ways.
    My friends and family (not sister) feel I should have hatred and relief like them. My grandma, aunts and old family friends feel I should be sad and mourning like them. I almost feel like the expectation being put on me with how I should feel is something I’m dealing with which is just as difficult. Also trying to explain to my boss that I’m dealing with a ton of emotions and need time off when I’m not breaking down in tears is a challenge too.
    I can’t even properly explain to my spouse how this feels. I feel like no one understands what this is like and it’s created a huge lack of support in my world right now.
    Thank you for all your stories that have helped me, and here is mine in hopes that I can help someone too.

  63. Dear Cray,

    Thank you for writing this comment! I too recently lost my father (a very abusive individual). I hadn’t spoken with him in over 30 years but was able to go see him before he died and tell him I forgave him. However I was unable to get myself to the memorial service. It makes me wonder if I have fully forgiven him. If not I will continue to work on it. One good thing that came from this is it brought my sister and me closer than we had been in many years. We had to decide together to take him off life support and I think working together and crying together created a bond that wasn’t there for a long time. I too feel the roller coaster ride of emotions surrounding this. It is sometimes hard to go about daily business but I push through. Thank you! Stanley

  64. Stanley,
    Thanks for responding to my post. It means a lot. It’s been a while now but I think still everyday has it’s own challenges. I wanted to send my best to you and your sister and let you know your not alone.

  65. Hi all of you, b
    Been reading all these comments, articles, blogs and am grateful for all of it! My father was my abuser, from 18 months old until I was 11 or so. He choked me to unconsciousness when I was 4 years old for saying “no” to him. I went thru 26 years of counseling to heal from this. I have a 31 year old daughter (I’m 58), whom I love very much. Although I never sexually abused her, there were incidences of physical and verbal abuse, my PTSD to deal with, and my alcoholism (I’m now12 years sober).I told my family about the abuse, including my in my family will talk about it.i’m proud of everything I have tried to do to heal! My mother was jealous of my dad’s attention to me and therefore hated me. Towards the end of her life, we started to make peace with each other. I regret now not having given her more of a chance.
    So, now my father, my abuser is slowly dying. I try to spend time with him, think I should take care of him thru his dying.it was always my job to take care of him. He had full intercourse with me when I was 7, while my mom was in the hospital for a month with hepatitis. I hate him and I love him. I am so torn as to how what I should do now. See him/don’t see him. My daughter knows about what happened, my sibs claimed it never happened to them and that I’m crazy. My daughter believes me, she has always had a good relationship with him (I made sure of that), yet understands my issues with him more now as she is older. My father even recently apologized to us for ” everything”.what am I supposed to do with that??
    Thanks for listening

  66. Beats me. The people who abused me not only DIDN’T apologize but managed to be enshrined as “poor little victims” after their death.
    One of the people who abused me is directly responsible for making a brain tumor in my head worse than it would have been if she hadn’t done so, but everyone in my family not only doesn’t believe she ever DID abuse me but one of them said she “deserves to recognized as a Saint, because of all she endured when our dad beat her.”
    Which is true that he beat her, and she dealt with that by banging our heads into walls every time he beat her. Not directly after he did it but sooner or later.
    The banging of my head against walls is directly responsible for making this thing in my head worse, a competent neurologist has said so and if I have to have surgery to make the tumor better or at least stop it from killing me, I’ll come back into consciousness with so much diminished brain capacity that he doesn’t even want to do the surgery unless it’s life-threatening by NOT doing it.
    Consequently, I don’t want to hear every member of my family deMANding that I feel so much f’ing sorrow for the person who did this to me.
    I don’t care if she was victimized by him, I don’t care what “perfectly good reasons” everyone thinks she had for her behavior (which she DIDN’T have but oh well), I don’t care that everyone has turned her into a saint just because she’s freakin’ dead. All I care about – and people can call me selfish for it all they want – is what’s going to happen to me if I have the operation and should I refuse to have it, and by extension of that refusal choose death over diminished cerebral function.
    Of course this abuse wasn’t sexual, that happened from a neighbor, but it feels worse than my sexual abuse because it created a problem that can literally be the reason for a premature death.

  67. THE PERSON YOU WERE MEANT TO BE: The only person I knew you to be During those years so long ago, You did hateful, mean and ugly deeds That made me hate you so. Your eyes were so dark and hollow As Satan had his hold, You followed him as your master, Your demeanor was so cold. What happened to you as a child To cause you to live such a life Of darkness and perversion And a constant string of strife? I will probably never understand What made you the way you were, I just wish the memories would fade And become more of a blur. I will never forget Those dark and lonely nights When I was cold and fearful And did not have a fight. I know I am not to blame For I was only a child But the unforgiveness that I held Made my life so vile. The day you passed away Was one of the happiest that I knew But something has happened to me That has made your passing so new. I have learned to forgive you For all those horrible years, I no longer hold grudges Now all I have are tears. Tears of sorrow that you’re gone And I miss you so For the first time in my life I hate you had to go. If you were given another chance To be on this earth with me, The one eternal wish I have Is for you to be the person you were meant to be. Gina 2014

  68. First and foremost, thank you so much for sharing this article. It is immense comfort knowing there are others who have fought through the same battles as you. This has me thinking a lot about my own situation now. My uncle abused me when I was 8, and I’ve tried to block it from memory until recently. I’m 19 and moved to college. What do you think the best solution would be for me right now? I fear all the time that he will die before I ever figure out how to.. make sense of it all, I guess, and figure out what to do . If you could go back to before the grandmother died, what questions would you have for her? Would you ever confront her or do you see no point for going back and reopening it all? I’ve never told anyone about the abuse, and still am unsure how to handle it since that uncle is now a part of my life again. (he helps take care of my mom since she has trouble moving around and lives in the garage)

  69. Thank You so much for this awesome post. I have been going through a very difficult time upon my abusers rapid health decline and imminent death. His father sexually abused him and his brother and sister. My father abused me sexually as a child along with my half-sister and stepsiblings. I have been on the road to recovery for several years now. My father and I have never spoken about the abuse. I had repressed the memory of abuse until about 10 years ago. As with many other survivors of childhood sexual abuse, my life and those that I love have been affected in many many ways. Now that he is sick, I have a lot of mixed feelings as you do Christina. I feel relieved that he will be off this planet I’m not able to harm any other innocent children. I feel grief for what could have been, as you said there were other paths that he could have chosen. I feel angry, a little bit at myself, for not ever expressing the hatred I feel inside for him. I feel bad for myself that I will never get the closure to tell him off. He once told my aunt that my sister had actually made a sexual pass at him. That makes me feel glad that he is suffering with cancer now. Alone. And after thinking those thoughts, I feel that I am a bad person for saying something like that. But like you Christina, I feel my number one concern should be a must remain on myself. I am giving myself permission to feel all of these things. I so appreciate this post. It really has helped me tremendously. Thank you and please keep up the wonderful work you are doing. God bless, Lisa

  70. Correction, I didn’t have my glasses on when I wrote this. What I meant to say is I’m glad he will not be on this planet to harm any more innocent children. I myself am not an abuser. In fact I have dedicated my life to help others. Lisa

  71. I am glad my husband is dead! He abused me sexually, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Everyone thinks he was a great guy, but he was NOT! He was an ABUSER! I AM SO VERY GLAD HE IS DEAD.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  72. About 3 1/2 years ago, my 26 yr old daughter who had returned to live with my husband & me mentioned how she had been sexually abused my my father from ages 2 1/2 to 7. My father is 92 yrs old now, lives 60 miles away. I had had a terrible relationship with my daughter from almost the beginning, as she was a very colicky & difficult child. When my younger son was born, it made life even more difficult, though he was an ‘easy’ baby; he was just big (almost 12 lbs at birth). My daughter who is now 29 is finally going to be moving out of here in about a week. My daughter often lied as a child. I blamed myself for my daughter’s awful behavior bc I had started going to A.A. mtgs. when she was 5 1/2 mo. old. My daughter has changed her name & has in the past accused me of abusing her even more than my dad did. I know I would become outraged at my daughter when she was little. I couldn’t understand why she was always misbehaving & thought it must be bc of “me”. I had also been mis-diagnosed as being bi-polar (I had had a TBI [traumatic brain injury] many years before & this mimicked BI-Polar & ADD conditions. My dad (who had helped ‘teach’ me) how to walk after my accident & coma was always overly solicitous to me. I thought of him as my hero. I am having trouble reconciling what I know ‘now’ about my dad as a child molester & “who” I thought he was for over 55 years. I am on my second therapist since finding out about the true nature of this man. My mnom died of pancreatic cancer in ’99 & my dad remarried 7 years ago. I’m finding out that I do not like his new wife at all. I haven’t talked to my dad since his birthday in April. I don’t want to talk to him, although my son would like me to. I just feel now that all I thought i knew in life is now “suspect” & I get extremely depressed sometimes for apparently no reason & it’s hard to have a ‘sunny’, optimistic view of the future. I just have to be glad it’s not worse & just take 1 day at a time. Thank you so much for this forum. It really helps to know that there are others out there who’ve had the same, worse or just ‘other’ experiences wrt abuse by family members so that I don’t feel so all alone. (Btw, my daughter seems to be doing ‘fine’. She’s a yoga instructor, a life fitness coach & participates in running & cycling competitions. I’ve told her that it might be good if she saw a therapist but she is ADAMANTLY OPPOSED to this & says that she does her own therapy. I just need you guys. I read an entry above that reminded me of my own situation. It’s way more complex & complicated than I’ve written, I just need to get some of this s*** off of my back. I feel like such a “bad” mother & like such a “bad” daughter.

  73. My abuser , pretend father , is dying this week, It is the same week and month he began abusing me. I stopped seeing my family for over twenty years and then only saw them at a sibling in towns gatherings . Not many times. I pray for him to receive salvation , because I hate to think after the devil tempted him to torment me, somehow the devil will win and torment him . I take my battles seriously.
    I have worked through a lot of things, but recently discovered the split off parts of me , alters. I found a website that helps one find out how to find out if they have any broken splintered parts in them. There are a lot of them in me. So far, two have came to me to reintegrate and work with me to bring others back into the core person. More work, Yahoo. I’m so excited that there is still a chance to regain myself to fullness and function with more memory . Other issues have also come to mind that the Lord is showing me I can connect the dots ……….and regain some areas in health that the splits /alters are creating to protect the body. They are like soldiers that have not found out the war is over ,and in hiding shooting at anything that moves. I know aftter going through the valley of the shadow of death. I don’t like evil. People are vessels , what fills them can be good or evil. I still choose to stay clear of vessels full of evil , unless they want to work it out and get clean.I am not contacting my pretend father because he has not manned up to what he did as far as the level of destruction and loss of quality of life. He admits what he did but cannot emotionally relate to the destruction and setbacks that it has caused me and our entire family. All his children emotionally stand far back licking their wounds while he dies because they can’t afford any more setbacks and pain. So sad, I tried to get the family to get help with me 29 yrs ago. Mom and dad would not co operate .I said I can’t stay sick , so I can’t see you anymore . Bye .
    I don’t freely love my pretend father/mother, who’s subconscous mind knew dad hurt me , because he is still dangerous and manipulates people to meet his needs and feel empathy for him when he has none for them. It ‘s like an alien is driving his body and words, but he is not onboard. His emotions feel sad for being caught and sick and dying but don’t feel sad for what he did to help the enemy destroy his wife , children and affecting his grandchildren.
    My mom developed dementia and then had a stroke and can’t talk , walk , or feed herself. Dad has been caring for her .A brother lives with them. Thr parents had traumatic childhoods but let the trauma affect next generation ,even when they had the time $ and support of willing children wanting to fix the mess.
    I will have to grieve because I am human , but I don’t have to stay a victim and my chlldren can know the truth that sets the captives free. No more bumpy rugs . My children do not know these grandparents . I protected them .
    It takes more than a few counselling sessions to break through the deception abusers believe and all the manipulation games they play to suck you in for another round of being used , abused and emotionally messed up.
    If some ruby red slippers could have gotten me out of the nighmare , but instead the drama has left me searching to regain my brain, my heart , and my courage ,praying for miracles,healing,restoration.

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