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….
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.