This is a very important piece of work by one of the women from our project We Are Survivors. As part of her photography project, where she photographed different spaces in Bristol that women had experience rape of sexual violence, she wrote an open letter to her abuser. We would like to share this with you again as it is incredibly powerful.
To my abuser,
I don’t know who you are and you don’t know who I am. I am a survivor and I was 12 years old when you took my innocence away from me. I was a happy child on a school trip at Disney Land Paris. I was looking up watching the fire works that made the castle look so beautiful, when you done an act so horrible, an act that that no one ever deserves to go through. I froze when I felt your touch, a touch that I would be able to feel every day for 8 years. I built up the courage to kick you, I prayed that you would stop, but you only did for a little while.
I am a fighter. I had to fight every single day in order to survive the abuse I suffered at your hands. Your actions made me feel dirty, used, abused, humiliated, broken, alone, vulnerable, cheap, depressed, ignored, embarrassed, powerless, injured, judged, scared and ashamed. When I returned home my mum asked me if I wanted to go to the police, my response was yes, I wanted to do whatever I could to stop you from hurting another child the way you hurt me. There were little the English police could do because the teachers never reported it in Paris. It was too late. I felt that I have failed all of your potential victims and I really struggled with knowing that I couldn’t do anything to stop you. I didn’t leave the house for 6 weeks because I was scared that you were going to come and get me. You wouldn’t have known how poorly the teachers treated me after and how many nights I cried myself to sleep, wishing that I wouldn’t wake up. I would ask myself why me, was it my fault, what did I do to deserve this? I felt worthless, like I was spoiled goods and that no one would ever be able to love me because you had damaged me.
You took something from me which I will never be able to get back, something that wasn’t yours to take. I desperately craved control over my life. I would starve myself, cut myself, drink until I was paralytic. After a while that wasn’t enough. I was 14 when I tried to kill myself, I couldn’t live with the pain and torture any more. I desperately needed help but I was only viewed as a troubled child because of what you had done to me. I believed that I was worthless and that you had tainted me, it led to more abuse because I believed that’s all that I was worth.
The worse thing is knowing that you might still be out there, I constantly lived in fear. It was your face I would look for whenever I was out in public. You would probably be in your 60s now. I hope that you are no longer able to hurt any more children and to ruin their chances of having a happy normal childhood and going on to achieve whatever dreams they desire.
You did break me, but I have come back stronger as ever. It has been a long journey and I have had to learn to love myself for all the wounds that I have. I look back now and I wouldn’t change anything about my past. It’s made me who I am today and I am a strong, determined, loving, caring and selfless woman. I have dreams and ambitions. I am no longer scared of my own shadow, I can walk down the street with my headphone in listening to my favourite songs. I can no longer feel your touch and I no longer cry myself to sleep.
I have managed to turn something so ugly into something so beautiful and a life that I will always cherish.
You no longer have a hold over me.