My brother sent me quite a long reply this morning. He’s concerned that I haven’t ‘moved on’ after all this time and might still be in victim mode. He fully expected I had scar tissue and has always believed me (he didn’t at first) so it’s no news to him, although he did say it matters to him. He wanted me to understand that I could choose to move beyond the abuse and release my abusers power over my life.

Non-survivors are pretty clueless aren’t they? Nobody ever tells someone with a physical injury that they just need to move on and forget the past so they can move forward if they point out they still have some pain or scars at time.

His responses are typical and don’t upset me much. I’m just happy he’s willing to talk about it.

I spent about an hour crafting a reply explaining about the cyclical nature of healing, the difference between dissociative memory and regular memory, the importance of integrating the pieces and the difference as I see it between being a victim and a survivor. And then took a page from Harriet Lerner the family systems therapist and decided to go minimal, warm and friendly. I thanked him for the thought he’d put into his response and said the following:

Thanks for the thought you put into responding to my email.

Don’t be concerned that I’m putting some energy into this right now. I’m well and happy and living a full and creative life, much like the survivor you describe and for many of the same reasons. Although bits of healing pop up from time to time and need looking after, in general this issue hasn’t gotten much attention in the past decade or so.

With [abuser’s name] cancer recurrence last summer, I believe that he is likely to die in the next while, and the death of a parent makes a person wants to revisit and tie up some loose ends, which I’ve been doing. I have some gyne issues I’m trying to resolve, so the more thorough exam was part of that, and gave me the opportunity to ask about something I hadn’t had the opportunity to ask about before this.

I’ll respond in a little more depth when I have the time to do it justice.

I feel so mature and clever, responding this way,  like I stepped around a big hole. The long self-justifying explanation was only feeding the pattern of him seeing me as a victim, as someone who wasn’t in charge of her life and living it responsibly. At some point we’ll have that discussion, it’s not yet the time.

0 thoughts on “Reply”

  1. Hi SwordDanceWarrior,

    I’m sorry for the response. You did a great job in replying to his stupidity. I have had brothers says the same kind of crap, over and over. Some of them just think it, but a few actually say it. They don’t get how patronizing and dismissive attitudes and behaviors are treating me like a victim at the same time they insist that I not be a victim.

    My most recent responses are I am doing fine and they need to accept that. And that I still have to heal and work on it. Sometimes I am able to re-direct the conversation. I know how hard that is to change the flow and to stop letting them decide who and what you are, so you did an incredible job of that. Good for you Warrior.

    Good and healing thoughts to you.


    1. Hi Kate,
      Yes, it’s so stupid when people respond to 10 years of daily virtual captivity and torture from someone with absolute power like it was like getting fired, or divorced, or the death of a loved one – like something painful in a normal and banal way. “Shrug it off, move on, don’t be a victim”. The problem is that they just have no way of understanding the scope and depth of the injury or recovery.

      I’m so grateful to you Kate and all of the rest of you survivors for getting how stupid this type of response is.

      Blessings to you,

  2. Wow, SDW –

    What a great response! I may need to borrow parts of that from you . . . my two sisters’ responses when I disclosed to them were much the same . . . and I believe my brother’s would be even more patronizing, so I haven’t bothered to tell him.

    – Marie (Coming Out of the Trees)

    1. Isn’t it terrible when your family still hasn’t gotten over seeing one as a scapegoat/helpless little kid? Or maybe they prefer to see us that way, it makes them feel superior. Thanks, I’m proud of it myself. He’s not a bad guy, just kind of arrogant and patronizing in general. A lot of it is his job and the fact that he’s been brilliant and successful (and white and male) most of his life.

      – SDW

  3. butterflysblog

    I think my biggest fears around going public are that they are either not going to believe me or they are doing to say something very stupid that will have me thinking about their comment for years to come. You, Warrior, have not only faced the demon of disclosure, but also came face to face with stupid, and then singlehandedly DISMISSED IT WITH YOUR MIGHTY SWORD OF WISDOM. I did not think it was possible to admire or respect you more, but as a result of this post, I am just in awe of you.

    1. LOL! (giggle) – I like the ‘came face to face with stupid, then singlehandedly DISMISSED IT WITH YOUR MIGHTY SWORD OF WISDOM’, especially the allcaps. I think I’ll put that one in my toolbelt to remind me that the demon stupid can be banished. We have to laugh at these things don’t we? The nerve of my brother getting all superior on me. He’s so not qualified.

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