I read this letter out loud five years ago, and there is more to say. (Trigger alert).
First, I have healed further since the writing and reading of this letter. I am not completely healed, but I am healing. This is a journey.
Second, I discovered new things about the perpetrators thanks to my friends Glenda and Nancy who did painstaking research on my behalf. They are angels. These teenage boys were not brothers as I once believed, but one boy whose last name I knew and his friend or cousin. I am not sure of the relationship between them, but I do know the one boy lived directly next door to my babysitter where all this happened. I do know they were both boy scouts. And I do know that the abuse was constant.
Third, I have come to realize the delicate nature of forgiveness. So please hear me when you watch or read this: this is simply my journey toward forgiving my perpetrators. This is not prescriptive for you. You walk this in your own way, in God’s perfect timing for you. Also keep in mind this letter came several decades after the abuse.
Dear Boys who molested me,
I am still angry.
What you did. Oh, what you did. Your choices dug scars the size of channels in my soul. You stole me. My innocence. My wide-eyed trust. My valiant view of life. My bravery. All kidnapped. In the aftermath of the sexual abuse, I hollowed. I believed lies about myself.
- I am unworthy of being protected.
- My self-worth = my sexuality, but in the most warped way.
Did you think of these things while you satisfied your base desires? Did you realize you’d destroy a little girl’s kindergarten life? Had you no shame to violate a five-year-old girl for your pleasure? You had so much bravery in your sin, violating me while your mom cooked. No fear. And yet, your actions made me run scared most of my life, always looking around corners, running, running, running afraid a villain would grab me.
You marked me. Ever since your violating act, a mark danced on my forehead for all abusers and violators to see, as if they were black light, and the mark fluorescent. It was a ticket for further predators.
I am still angry. Because when I watched my own daughters turn five years old, I could barely breathe. Such fear. Such sadness. All I wanted to do was protect my girls.
I was so small when you took me into the woods. So incapable of running away. And if I had tried, your hissed words would make me turn around and be re-violated. “We will kill your parents if you tell anyone.” To protect my parents, I kept my mouth shut tight. And I dared not run.
But if I stay camped in the land of vengeance my joy will emaciate. (Click to tweet this). You will have won the conquest.
You see, I met Jesus when I was fifteen years old, ten years after you scared the hell out of me, five years after my father died. Gentle Jesus found me just in time. Those suicide swirling thoughts had hypercharged my mind. I wondered what in the world I was doing here on this green, green tall-treed earth. Was my purpose to be violated? To be used by others like you two? Or did I have some other unknown purpose.
Under an evergreen tree, the memories of your violation stung my eyes. And yet there, in that sacred place, I met Jesus. He took my sin (oh so many sins, innumerable were/are they) and flung it eastward in a projectile one billions miles away from me. He cleaned me, scrubbed my aching heart, and started me down the painful/beautiful road of healing. He took on my sin and my pain.
He changed my I Was statements into I AM statements.
- I was molested. I am cherished by God.
- I was stolen from. I am given everlasting, joyful, abundant life.
- I was less than. I am more than I ever thought I’d be.
I am free to forgive you. I am free to look upon you with grace-graced eyes. I am made whole by a holy God. Alleluia!
I understand better now. I thank God that by the time I reached your age, I met Jesus. I could’ve been you. I could’ve given in to the vile urges inside, crossed over many a barrier, had I not been rescued. Without Jesus, I shudder to think of what I would’ve become. Which brings me to a vulnerable place, and a deep, deep sadness for you.
If statistics play out, you didn’t violate me for kicks. You did what had been done to you. You imitated the life you had. You acted out on the very thing that agonized you. The thing you hated is what you became. There came a day when you made a choice to give into the madness in your head, where you believed you deserved satisfaction. Someone stole from you, so you may as well steal from someone else.
I see Jesus, naked on the cross with labored breathing. He understands the vulnerability of nakedness. On that cross He could’ve crucified all the violators, all those who sent Him there, but He breathed wild forgiveness. He chose to do what you did not. He suffered for someone else’s sin. And instead of enacting vengeance, He ushered in an era of grace.
I wish this Jesus for you.
I worry about you. Maybe you’ve stuffed your memories of the little community near the salty water. Maybe you’ve scrubbed those woods from your mind. You’ve shoved it way, way down. Guilt riddles you, but you cannot articulate why. I’m proof, beautiful proof, that you can be set free. You can be scrubbed clean. You can be forgiven.
But you cannot heal in silence. An untold story never heals.. I challenge you, as that scab-kneed girl you sexually assaulted, to give it up. Tell the story. Ask Jesus to forgive you.
All I can do is pray you’ll find this letter through some beautiful God-breathed serendipity and finally want to be set free from what you did to me. I forgive you both, you brothers in crime. You brothers who ruined one year of my scared and scarred life. You brothers who most likely were violated too. Come to the fount of forgiveness, inaugurated by Jesus. Let my words serve as your entryway:
I forgive you.
My mountain of sins toward a holy God dwarfs the molehills you enacted against me. I read Jesus’ words about the unmerciful servant and understand: “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ (Matthew 18:32-33).
If I really, really believe in naked Jesus on the cross who bore all my shame and sin and muck, then I have to believe His sacrifice is sufficient for you too. His mercy sparks deep mercy in me toward you.
It’s odd this affection, this ache I have for you two. I long to see you free from those memories, from the abuse you enacted and the abuse you faced. I can’t offer clever solutions or pay for years of therapy to eradicate the pain. All I have is beautiful Jesus. All I have is my life made whole. All I have is my testimony. All I have is this: I am okay. I am wildly loved by my Creator. I am healed. I am living a life of truly impossible joy.
I am angry. But the anger redirects when I realize that Satan’s greatest weapon is sexual violation. I’m angry at the powers of darkness that ignite deep, awful, scary soul wounds through pornography, sex trafficking, sexual abuse, and sexual addiction. I’m flat out rage-filled because he has succeeded in stealing, killing and destroying so many lives.
This must stop. For my sake. For your sake. For our sake.
Satan, you cannot have these boys now turned men. Satan, you are not allowed victory in this arena. Jesus trumps your vile deeds. What you gleefully applauded in the darkness, Jesus heals audaciously in the light. You cannot and will not win. Light always, always, always pushes out darkness. Always. Your days are numbered, and those who follow Jesus are SICK to death of your sexual schemes against humanity.
We stand for healing. We stand in Jesus’ strength for the sake of future radically saved lives. We who know redemption are tired of miring ourselves in the painful past. Instead we will STAND. We will dance. We will give our healed lives to rescue souls from the darkness. What Satan intended (and even you, brothers) meant for evil, God makes a holy turnaround. We who desperately needed rescue are now agents of rescue, of reconciliation, of forgiveness.
Oh that you would experience this new, new life Jesus offers you, brothers of the last name. I invite you on the journey. And if we ever meet under the evergreens, by God’s life-altering grace, I will hug you. I will pray for you. I will weep. I will say forgiveness words. I will welcome you to the family of the messy-yet-redeemed.
Standing in the glorious, sweet light of Jesus,