When a Child Sexual Abuser Dies: Does the Child Rejoice?

In the article linked below, the author, Christina, refers to her sexually abusive father as “dad.” I have not considered my biological father a “dad” since I remembered being sexually abused, raped, and terrorized by him.

Maybe Christina had many good, loving memories alongside the memories of child sexual abuse….or maybe she has not yet released her deep emotional bond with her father –the bond that some children retain long after the abuse stops.

I have no loving memories of my father. Prior to regaining my childhood memories, I had two good memories of father and daughter. One was a short ‘clip’ in my mind of a time he was teaching me how to ride a bike. Another memory was the time he was laughing at me when I pretended to take photos of people in other cars with a camera that had no film in it.

Prior to beginning therapy, I had a few memories of my father’s outbursts of anger, as well as a few moments in my mind of the days before he died when I sat beside his hospital bed.

After I began to break free from my denial-bond –the bond that kept the memories of incest and trauma hidden from my conscious mind– I allowed myself to finally remember the rapes, the death threats, the terror, the knife, the forced oral sex, and the devastating feeling of when he was finished with me.

It took me well over a decade to truly heal the trauma bond I had with my father, and the false idea that I received “love” from him, in the form of sexual abuse.

Healing my idea of having had a “daddy” took a tremendous amount of hard work, and a total willingness to let go of the feeling that he gave me when he paid sexual attention to me –when “daddy” wanted me, when I was special to him, when I was his total focus during the fleeting moments before he ejaculated….

shutterstock_208591390

Afterwards, I was nothing more than a piece of discarded trash. The ‘good’ feeling ending, can make a child feel like the lowest garbage there is, so when the sexual abuser shows interest in the child again, the victim can yearn for the sexual attention –for some, even hunger for it. The intimacy with the abuser can define a child’s self-worth if they are not receiving any true human love from anyone else in their life.

People often think that when child sexual abuse stops, or when the abuser dies, the child rejoices. This is not usually the case.

For some children, finding their abuser with another child can make them feel like a jilted lover.

Most children experience emotional conflict within themselves when their abuser dies or the abuse stops for some other reason. The child often goes through anger, sadness, loneliness, rejection, freedom –and for many children, it feels like the loss of a lover.

Like Christina writes in her article below, I too grieved when my father died.

People think, “oh good, another child abuser is dead” but to the child who loved her father, it can be a very traumatic emotional loss, mixed with severe guilt.

(Please note, the image above was downloaded from Shutterstock, but it is a very intimate photo, and depicts something I do not approve of.)

The Death of My Molester Father

by Christina Enevoldsen

“I’d known my dad was getting close to the end. Ever since I’d really been facing my sexual abuse, I’d wondered how I’d deal with his impending death. There’s such a fantasy about deathbed reconciliations. Death makes us consider what’s really important in life—love and the people close to us.

After a six year estrangement, I didn’t follow the advice of well-meaning people to “let bygones be bygones” before it was too late. I couldn’t buy into the “he won’t be around forever” threat. It reminds me of a high-pressure sales pitch, “Hurry! This deal won’t last!!!” But what kind of an offer is that? The advertised version of the last moments with my dad would be bittersweet but fulfilling, but based on my dad’s history, that’s not what I’d really be buying.

Rushing to my dad’s deathbed in hopes of finally getting the love I used to crave would be like buying a product from a company that’s repeatedly cheated me.

If he had only been abusive to me during my childhood, maybe I would have had a little more hope for a better outcome. Maybe. But his claims that he loved me while telling others I was lying about his abuse didn’t make me want to trust him. Neither did the fact that he and my mom sued me a few months after I confronted him and gave him one more chance at a relationship with me.

I don’t regret keeping myself at a safe distance. It’s true that it’s too late to reconcile now but what does “too late” mean? Too late to compromise my well being in an attempt to get something that is almost certain to be harmful? Too late to settle for a false love that meant sacrificing myself so someone else could be fulfilled? Too late doesn’t mean much to me.

Too late means it’s out of my control now that my abuser is dead. But it was already out of my control before he died. The lie is that there was something I could have done to make my dad love me. I tried all my life to earn that from him—to convince him I’m worthy of being loved. It was never in my control. Not in the end, not in the beginning, not in the middle. Never.

I could have been with him at the end, but I could have been with him the entire six years of our estrangement if I’d only set aside my emotional health and renounced my boundaries. The separation from my parents has been the most validating time of my life. Why would it suddenly be an improvement to my life to be with my dad as he died?

My choice to protect myself validated myself in a way that he refused to.

But also miss the person I no longer wanted in my life.

He passed away almost nine months ago but I couldn’t bring myself to discuss it publicly for fear of hearing someone say, “Good riddance! One less child molester”. Most of the people in my life knew him only as my childhood sexual abuser and that’s all they knew about him.

Some people didn’t understand why I was grieving. Why would I mourn someone who had caused me so much pain? Through him, I lost my innocence, my childhood, my sense of safety, belief in my own personal power, trust, and much, much more. Through him, I lost my connection to a dad, to my mom, my brother, and for years I lost connection with myself.

One person commented to me, “At least you don’t have much to miss.” But that’s not true…”

To read the rest of Christina’s article, click here.

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12 Responses to When a Child Sexual Abuser Dies: Does the Child Rejoice?

  1. L.Day says:

    I have no loving memories of my father. Prior to regaining my childhood memories, I had two good memories of father and daughter.

    {I did not think I even knew my father on a personal level. He never spent any time with me. Then I bought a “beautiful used doll” and as I washed her up, memories of my father sexually abusing me flooded my mind. It was his spirit–I knew him! I actually know him. I was shocked and I still am. I did not think he even took interest in me, but now I know he did — in a bad way! I feel rage and disgust! I don’t have all the memories yet. How could he? I am deeply grieved!
    Great article! Thanks!

    • Alethea says:

      Hi L. Day… Many men only show affection/attention to their child in the moments they want sex, afterwards, they ignore them like a long worn-out rag doll.

      Breaking the need for, and the idea of, a loving-nurturing father (or mother) is very difficult to do. It takes a lot of spiritual work, and or, therapy to do. It is an inherent/ego-based need (“ego” meaning one of our basic human needs). It is extremely liberating when that need is healed and broken, but until then, it can be painful work.

      • L.Day says:

        Hi Alethea,
        Your response explains a lot. It is painful to know that my father only paid me attention when he wanted sex. This is how my older sister was treated as well. You are right as far as it being painful work. I have just began and the pain is excruciating. Thanks again for your comment. Have a great day.

  2. Little Nel says:

    I had the opportunity to converse with a woman who confided in me that she was sexually abused by her step-father starting at age 8.

    He handed her an ice cream on a stick then when she was finished eating it, he stuck his manhood in her mouth.

    She told her mother. For her truthfulness, she received a nasty slap across the face coupled with an angry reply, “You are a lying whore!” “Shut up and stop lying.”

    She was crushed and somehow “knew” that her mother was offering her up to her step-father to appease him. There was no effort to protect her at all. Her mother told her that he was a “good man” who loved them and provided for them.

    I handed her Dr. Ysatis de Saint-Simone’s phone number in case she felt like she might need some therapy for her trauma and told her about this website.

    I told her about my own recovery and what Dr. Saint-Simone did to help me.

    • Alethea says:

      That’s beautiful LN. Offering to help others like you have been helped is doing a service to God. THANK YOU for trying to help others.

      That woman’s story is so very common…not only the words and actions of her mother, but what her step-father did. People don’t realize that men will stick their p#n!s in a child’s mouth, even beginning at infancy.

  3. KevinF says:

    Excellent post, Alethea. Such a complex issue. The small child is totally dependent on the parent for every part of his/her life. The parent, especially the mother, may swing between violence/abuse/madness and remorse and attempts to care. In my case the mother was a street angel/house devil so also none of the neighbours wanted to hear or believe anything negative about her.
    I think many children raised in this sort of environment have very conflicting emotions. In my case, I spent many years trying to remember or create a scenario where things were ok with my mother but nothing ever worked for long. Only in recent years after I got treatment to recover from lifelong depression and also began to read other people’s accounts of abuse, was I able to begin to accept things as they were – conflicted and unresolved. And just move on from that. Maybe that’s forgiveness.

    • Alethea says:

      Hi Kevin,

      Merely ‘accepting things as they were’ and retaining “conflicted and unresolved” feelings inside you is not synonymous with forgiveness. A person can never ‘just move on’ from such deep emotional trauma, lies, betrayal, lack of love, abuse, neglect, and trauma without removing the emotions and eradicating the memories at the subconscious level.

      Once this is done, forgiveness comes in a pure, natural, and beautiful way and they KNOW they have become spiritually clean in this forgiveness…there is no doubt. There is also no more physical or psychological reactions to those who hurt…there are no more physical problems, and no more outbursts of stress or anger when an event or person puts them in touch with the past.

      If you ever want to contact my therapist, let me know. She has clients around the world, and her prices are very reasonable…probably much less than most therapists charge.

      All my best,
      Alethea

  4. Little Nel says:

    I must be one of the lucky ones. I was able to see my father as the cold, selfish, abusive man that he really was when I was 15.

    I heard him clearly when he told me that he didn’t love me or care about me when I was 30. I believed him and never grieved for him after I resolved my “fantasy” that my father ever would love and/or care about me. He had no warm feelings for any of his children, in his emotional make up.

    My need to have a loving father, instead of the monster I got, was satisfied by a loving God, so I did not feel “cheated as a child” anymore, even though the betrayal was painful.

    “Tho my mother and father forsake me, yet the Lord will gather me up.” paraphrased for the Old Testament.

    • Alethea says:

      “I heard him clearly when he told me that he didn’t love me or care about me when I was 30.”

      Here is the difference LN. Most people are never told (as children or adults) that their abuser did not love them, that their abuser was a sociopath, or a bad person. No, most of us were told by our mothers, or other people, that our abusers were a “good man” who “worked hard for you,” or that they “loved their families.”

      Getting the truth out of an abuser, or his wife, is very uncommon. It is much easier for the victim to see reality when reality is actually spoken.

  5. Another powerful post. Grief is such a complicated emotion. We may not grieve for the dead but for the little girl who needed a proper father and happy childhood.

    • Alethea says:

      Elizabeth, i think you are correct. Our grief is deeply rooted in not having the “daddy” we wanted/needed as a child, and getting the monster we got instead.

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