The Non-Offending Parent

How do you tell your non-offending parent that you were abused?  Here’s one survivor’s letter to her father. Names have been blocked out to assure her privacy.

 Could you write to the person who should have protected you and didn’t?

Remember, you don’t have to mail the letter. Carefully writing it, editing and re-editing, can be healing.

Questions you probably ask yourself:

Was that parent aware and doing nothing?

How could the non-offending parent allow this to go on right under his/her nose?

Was that parent abused himself/herself, which might account for why he/she didn’t notice? (That is, dissociated.)

Let me know your thoughts on my questions.

Your comments are welcome. So are your letters.


“Dear Dad:

 The time has come for me to disclose something to you and I do not want to do it over the phone.  I had tried on two different occasions to talk to you about this deep dark secret, but I could not bring myself to open up to you. 

I remember you were complaining about Mom only serving us cereal for breakfast every morning during the week and you thought that was crazy.  You felt that we should have had a better breakfast.  I have to admit I agree with you 100% as I remember she used to beat me every morning to eat my breakfast.  To be honest I don’t think you knew anything about the beatings because you were getting ready for work.   You see by the time you came out of your bedroom into the kitchen to have your coffee I had already left the table to get dressed for school and she had already put away the belt that she used to hit me with.  You may think this is the deep dark secret I want to tell you but the answer is no.

Anyway Dad, I should get to the point of my letter.  Dad, I want to let you know that I was sexually abused by *** (Mom’s youngest brother).   The sexual abuse started at a very young age.  I believe I was about five years old or younger I don’t remember the exact age.  The sexual abuse continued all the way up to when I left *** for good and even when you sent me a ticket to come home for a visit every year.   I believe everything came to an end not until I was about 26 years old as I was able to find my voice and told him to stop touching me.  He still tried to continue this behaviour even when I told him to stop but I was strong enough then to fight him off and I ensured I was never alone when he was around.

I have to admit to you this is quite hard disclosing this information to you.  I am not sure how you are responding to this letter but at the moment for me I am nauseated just writing about my sexual abuse.  I am also shaking inside and once again I feel a migraine headache coming on.  I don’t know if you remember how I used to suffer regularly with migraine headaches when I was quite small like from the age six years old.  I know in those days we did not call it migraine headaches it was just a very bad headache and both you and Mom could not understand the reason why I had the headaches so frequently.

The sexual abuse used to take place at Granny’s and Pop’s place when you and Mom would go out for the evening and leave us there to spend the night at their place.  There were many times I went to school crying inside of me because I was too afraid to tell someone.  No, *** never threatened me not to say anything.  He always told me I was being a good little girl because I allowed him to fondle me.   . 

Dad I am guessing you will be quite angry at *** and I believe that may be another reason I withheld this information from you.  Besides wanting to protect you I believe you may lose your anger on *** and may have wanted to kill him.  Now that he has passed away I feel this is the right time for me to disclose this information to you. 

Dad I just want to let you know, you are the best father I could ever ask for.  You know I always looked up to you and you always encouraged me to fulfil (sic) my dreams.  You were the one who always wanted what’s best for me.

With all my love your daughter.”

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