First of all thank U for sharing that experience w/ all of us. This must be the week where people challenge my thinking. Which i take seriously. I wish i could have found it in my heart to forgive my dad his wrongs on his death bed. Although i was not there, i know full well i had too much hate and bitterness toward him to do so.
I have struggled w/ that issue for years. Finaly being able to find some understanding and insight into him as i learn about myself and why i chose to be this way. We were both sick, scarred, and programed violently @ the hands of our parents. We both chose to be predatory instead of vulnerable.
I don’t know about him but i had chances to make the changes necessary to become a productive and compassionate individual. I chose hate and predation as my armor. I enjoyed hurting people. I was a coward just as he was. I could say it was my parents fault. Yet that would be total bullshit.
The truth is i (chose) this way of life. Although i have gained the ability to feel compassion and empathy for people. I still suffer the addiction to sexual violence. It is a shame i deal w/ daily.
So in one word how would i describe my father… ( Incapable ). Because he was controlling and manipulative right up to his death in 2004. And was incapable of change. I’m not sure if it was because he didn’t care to or that he had behaved violently and hurtfully for so long he just didn’t know how.
My mother…This one is easy. ( sick ). She was molested by her father, uncles, brothers. She was literaly used by the men in her family as a sexual apperatus. From a very young age. Then she marries my father. Horrible choice.
The woman only knew to equate love and sex as the same thing. The incest w/ me was her way of loving me. I dont really hate her for it. Although it was clearly a crime against myself. I not only enjoyed it, but i also equated this sexual behavior as love.
It was a sickness we shared. A way to love one another in his little private kingdom. I have forgiven her as well. My anger was not at what she did to me. Rather at her not working w/ me to hash it out.
To find a place of understanding between us. Where we could finaly put it all behind us and heal together and seperately. To exercise our own demons. And love one another as a mother and child should have from the beginning…
But the reality is shit happens. I made shitty choices that had absolutely nothing to do w/ the abuse i endured as a child. Broken system or not. I chose to be what i was. I am addicted to sexual violence. My brain is and has been fucked up for years.
That however is no excuse for how i chose to live my life. In a nut shell, the one word i would use to describe myself now: ( Learning ). How would i have described myself 14 years ago. ( Evil )!!!
So Michelle i hope i have provided some insight into myself, and how i see things. As for the abuse i went thru as a child. It honestly was not what made me who i was. Though it is easy to say my parents created an animal. Its simply not the case.
They are probably responsible for my sexually violent addiction. However i made the choice at around the age of 10 to be predatory. Because it gained me what they took from me. And that was my ability to control my own emotional safety and security. As well as my physical and sexual well being. I created me, i truly believe this.
Just as i am now recreating myself. Molding a compassionate and caring human being. And its not easy. But necessary.
I read your book and still follow the blog, and find the story of Brent compelling, and so incredibly sad.
I have my own history of abuse at the hands of a parent, and luckily for me, my healing was healthy and empowering. I began to realize it was him who was damaged and sick. I look in the mirror every morning and I like who I am. I don’t know what he sees when he looks in his mirror … a couple of years ago, I was at his death bed, holding his hand as he approached mortality and I asked, “How would you describe your father in 1 word?” His response, “… distant … ” Ok, interesting… “How would you describe your mother, in 1 word?” “… Vain” and my eyes began to well up. He was raised by parents who were distant and vain. Jesus Christ, what had THEY done to HIM? and the empathy and compassion I felt for him, my abuser, was overwhelming … it literally washed over me that, he was not who he was supposed to be. Someone did something to change him. I don’t relieve him of his responsibility for those things done to me and others … but I had a window into the “why”…and the timeline of cause and effect.
I forgave the man. I will never forgive the acts. I loved him but I was afraid to be near him most of my life. I second guessed every comment, every intention…and I hated that, but it wasn’t of my choosing. I am so grateful that although it took until the end, I gained even more perspective and true forgiveness.
I look at Brent and I think, he was born a beautiful perfect little being … what the hell did they think they were doing, and creating out of him???? I don’t forgive his acts, they are his to own. But it sickens me that he was changed. He was forever altered through no fault of his own. I wonder how he would answer the questions:
Describe your father in 1 word.
Describe your mother in 1 word.
January 19, 2018
Survivor: “I have been trying to find the courage to speak about having compassion for perpetrators of violence”
Comment: Hi Amy Herdy,
Your Ted talk led me to this website. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I want to thank you so much everything that you have brought to light in the talk and in writing, as I feel that it is something that needs to be said. I have been trying to find the courage to speak about having compassion for perpetrators of violence like this, because while it is hard to learn to forgive, there is a fact that I truly believe in: every person who does harm has been harmed.
I strongly believe this because of the stories I was told throughout my childhood by people who abused me. Almost every single one of them had a story about being abused as children, and they would often tell it to justify why they were hurting us. As a child, I was “trained” in very specific ways in how to abuse other children and in how to recruit children to bring back to sick adults to be abused. I have watched cousins and childhood friends turn to addiction and take on masks of mental illness to try to disguise what happened to us as children.
The reason that I feel compassion in spite of the anger about my life, is that, had it not been for a couple of extremely loving adults in my childhood who balanced out the pain, I cannot say that I would have turned out any differently than those who abused me. I experienced abuse as a sickness that is passed from generation to generation or from person to person. The difference with sexual abuse is that, unlike having a leg cut off and bleeding all over the place for the world to see, it is something that is so stigmatized and set in the category of “sexual.”
Knowledge of healthy sexual relationships isn’t something that children are typically exposed to as it is. But this is not a “sexual” thing. It is a “power” thing. In my experience, sexual abuse has more to do with one person feeling so powerless in themselves that the only way that they feel like they can have any sense of power in life is through taking advantage of others who are more vulnerable to them. This is the sickness.
In our society, we treat the symptoms of this sickness by throwing perpetrators and victims in jail, instead of trying the much simpler path of prevention. It makes way more sense to help children than to try to patch together broken adults. Thanks again for your work.
Time: June 29, 2017 at 6:42 pm
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Tagged as abuse, addiction, Childhood sexual abuse, healthy sexual relationship, mental illness, perpetrator, perpetrator of violence, perpetrators of violence, sexual, sexual abuse, survivor, survivor of childhood sexual abuse, victim, victims