What Would You Say?

Recently on Tumblr I came across a post that was re-blogged several times that asked the question, what would you say to your abuser, and assume that they are capable of hearing and understanding you. I read this several times over several days and usually my response is the same as the one I have always had, I cannot assume that they can hear and understand or care for or about me or anything that I say or do. To my way of thinking, that negates the possibility of my trying to communicate anything to them.

The first time that I ever came across this idea in therapy was with a truly incompetent therapist who kept insisting over and over that I imagine my older brother, who sexually abused me, in the chair next to me in her tiny, claustrophobic office. I kept insisting over and over that I would not imagine him in the office, will not ever do so, and will leave the office if she continued to insist that I tell him anything of the damage he had done to me by sexually abusing me as a child and betraying me. I kept getting louder and louder and ruder and ruder, until I couldn’t stop myself from going into a panic attack.

Saying I was leaving unless she stopped was what made her stop. But really I knew before that that she wasn’t very good, but this instance of abuse really made me know I needed to find a therapist who was competent. Anyone who thinks that their opinion/education matters more than what the client is saying is an atrocious person/clinician. Anyone who pushes their client onto the edge of panic and then pushes them over and violates their stated boundaries when they are being clear is incompetent and abusive.

So imagining myself talking or writing to my abusers, about what they have done to me, has never been high on my list of healing choices, actually it’s not on my list at all, though I totally respect other survivors making that choice and I have total respect for other survivors. Peace and love babes to you all.

Well I think I came across the post quite a few times until an answer finally came to me in my mind on what I would actually do, if I were capable of believing they were capable of being a human being and if I were willing to share with them and this is it:

Me and all of them, alone in a huge empty room, lit up, with no furniture. We would all be sitting on the floor. They would be far away from me and unable to speak to me or come near me or touch me or hurt me.

I would scream for five minutes, or perhaps five days. Just scream. At the terror of a person that they were, at the terror that they had brought into my tiny, little life, at the terror that I carry inside of my body, my mind, my soul because of them, at the terror that they have made of my daily life.

Then I would cry for five minutes, or five days. And they would have to see it and they would have to witness it and they could not turn away, they could not stop hearing me, the pain, all the different kinds of pain they have caused me, and it would crawl inside of them and make their existence unbearable, unendurable.

Then I would communicate all the emotions that they put me through telepathically for five minutes or maybe five days. And there would be nowhere that they could run and hide to escape the torture they had put me through; emotionally, psychically, physically, socially, mentally, emotionally, sexually.

Then I would stand up and turn my back and my backside to them. By turning my back to them I am saying you mean nothing to me, I consider you no threat in my life, I am so safe from you that I can turn my back on you, I turn my back on you as a relative, as a human being, as a being, you are nothing to me, you never will be. Everything that I am inside and in the world is despite you and your impact on me, you gave me nothing of worth or value and that is how I see you.

As I would walk away they would see my backside and by showing them my backside I am saying the deepest insult that I can to them, I walk away from you, I won’t face you, you don’t deserve me, for eternity I walk away from you, for eternity I reject you, I reject everything you say, do, everything that you are.

And that is what I would do.

They don’t deserve my words.

9 thoughts on “What Would You Say?

  1. Such an insanely difficult question. I’ve not actually come across this idea before and I don’t even know how I would begin to respond to this. For me it’s too much to fathom right now. Maybe some day.
    Your response here is so very powerful and moving. I’m sorry for the pain you’ve endured. Thank you so much for sharing this! ❤
    xx AImee

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Aimee,

      I had come across this several times, a therapist, a therapist trainee who gave a class, and I think it was in the book “The Courage to Heal.” I did write letters in the last two circumstances, but it was my choice to do so and I was not being forced into it. However, I did not find the experiences helpful, therapeutic, or healing. I found it incredibly disempowering and triggering. And did not believe that I accrued healing from doing the exercise twice on paper. I regret doing it and would not do it again. However I also respect that others have a different experience with a multitude of healing methods and I try to think positive about them for others, even when I have had bad experiences, but I would never encourage someone to do it or expect them to ignore their own natural inclination.

      Thank you so much dear for your comment. 🙂 Good and healing thoughts to you.


      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is extremely powerful, and I think it goes right to the heart of why it can seem deeply nonsensical to ask someone what they would “say” to an abuser—words can’t begin to express what needs to be communicated…and speaking in a way the abuser could “understand” puts an unjust burden on the person who has been abused. You shouldn’t have to figure out a way to explain yourself or your experience in a way that your abuser might understand, even hypothetically, even as an exercise.


    • Hi David,

      You wrote exactly what I thought about this, but was unable to articulate, in my mid-twenties when it came up several times. Thanks for that.

      But I knew that the answer to the question, will you do this exercise, was no I won’t.

      I do believe that this might be helpful and/or healing for others to speak words. But for me it is superfluous. A great deal of the damage that was done to me was done when I was pre-verbal and as a toddler and pre-schooler with limited language skills. I think that contributes to my language challenges in some areas of our healing work. We manage work-arounds and heal the way that works best for us. I don’t challenge that reality and really never have. I expect a therapist to respect that, to respect me, and to be able to manage my differences in the healing hour.

      Thanks for your comment and support. Good and healing thoughts to you.


      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Granny,

      I agree with you. I did not see the therapeutic value and really still don’t. But I am willing to theoretically believe that it could and can be of healing value to survivors of abuse. I just don’t see it and don’t know anyone who has said that it was.

      Thank you Granny for saying that our abusers do not deserve us. 🙂 That was very healing to read. It means so much to us that you are here, are so kind to us, and that you love us. We love you too.

      Good and healing thoughts to you.



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