When I was 19, I read an account written by one of my best friends about a
man who had sexually abused her as a child. She didn’t disclose his
identity, but I immediately knew he was my father.
When I was 7, she had asked me, “Can you tell your dad to stop touching me?” I was terrified. Later, through tears, I had asked my father if it was true. He denied it.
I believed him that day, and the incident faded from my memory like a
forgotten dream, until I read my friend’s story 12 years later. Then I knew. I
spent the next two days in my college dorm room in a daze, not eating or
sleeping, lying in bed, questioning reality. “How can this be?” I asked
myself repeatedly, but I never doubted the truth of her story.
I met with my friend, who told me the whole story, and we discussed how I
should confront my dad and what the next steps should be. Speaking to my
father was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. There was so much I wanted to
say and didn’t. Our conversation didn’t give me clarity or answers to my
questions, but I knew deep down that there wasn’t anything he could say to
make me feel better.
He later told my mother. When I was a child, she often told me to be careful
of men, and now she knew my father was one of those men. She was
terribly ashamed and sank into a deep depression that lasted for months.
Since that time, my mother and I have had many discussions about what
happened. It’s hard for us to put our feelings into words, but it at least helps
to try. We are determined to make our lives what they should be, not what
the suffering would have them be.
I’ve grown in care and concern for my mom, and I’ve also grown in respect
for my friend and her family. Both of our families eventually met and
discussed the incident. My father was different after that—he was more
somber and humble, but it’s still extremely difficult for me to see past the
pain and suffering he’s caused. Our life as a family is still stuck in limbo.
Since I’m writing this letter for a faith-based group, I think it’s important to
say that, for me, God is no longer in the picture. It was almost second nature to push Him away as soon as I realized what had happened. God had never seemed real to me in the first place. My home church was never a real place of worship, and I never considered seeking support from my church family. For me, they didn’t represent what a loving, safe, and spiritual community should be. Although it’s too late to change my experience, I sincerely hope they read this and think about what they could do differently.
Although I am happy for those, like my mother and my friend, who have
their faith to hold onto and keep them afloat during storms like this, my path
with God has been different. If He is real, I hope He can understand that.
After the truth came out, I entered a year of therapy in college when I
realized I couldn’t even function at a basic level. It unearthed so many
complexities that I am still working to understand. Even now, I continue to
take each day one at a time.
This letter doesn’t adequately express the full story, but I hope that readers
will get a glimpse of what can happen when adults fail to protect innocent
children. If, as Christians think, each of us will stand before God’s throne on
judgement day, it will be hard to justify how so many adults knew that
children were in danger, but failed to protect His sheep.