Today I read a thread on Twitter explaining that most men have done something to make a woman uncomfortable, or have even assaulted her, without realizing it–like, for example, drunken hook-ups. But it said NO! Don’t track her down and apologize to her! You’ll only re-traumatize her! And you’re only doing it to absolve yourself!
I want all my abusers–whether it involved mental, emotional, verbal, threatening, or sexual abuse, or sexual harassment–to track me down and apologize to me.
It’s not for him. It’s for me. It’s to hear from him that I did not deserve this, that it was all his fault. It’s to make it easier for me to forgive him. It’s to ease my mind from all the trauma and endless circles of thinking over the years that kept leading me back to the thought, Maybe I did something to deserve it. Maybe I was the real abuser.
I posted on Twitter:
TBH, I’d love to hear an apology from various people who abused me in the past. It’s not to make *them* feel better, but to hear them finally say that I did not deserve what they did. That would be tremendously healing. I long to hear this from Richard/Tracy/Shawn/Phil.
I keep hearing people say “Don’t contact the person you abused to apologize! It’ll re-traumatize them!” But that is NOT the way I feel about it at all! I even try to friend them on Facebook, open the lines of communication, hoping to hear this from them.
I told Richard/Tracy on my blog that they can apologize to me. I long to hear this from all my abusers. I’ve heard a version of it from Phil, but he never mentioned the sexual abuse. Ex-bullies have apologized; I welcomed it and became friends with them on Facebook.
I finally got Shawn to friend me on Facebook a few days ago. I’ve tried for years. I hoped he would see who I really am and not the distortion he had in his head 30 yrs ago.
Years ago we reconciled, so I thought it was okay for us to contact each other, yet I’ve heard nothing from him for 15 years despite a few attempts over that time. This friending on Facebook was important to me.
Two days later, he unfriended me without a word. I have no idea why.
Once again, it felt like that apology from him had escaped my grasp, like he still blamed me for everything, had still made me into a monster in his head, despite the reconciliation years ago. And yet he was the one who did the abusing, based on a patriarchal view of relationships and a prejudice against introversion. Phil and I also made peace with each other years ago, yet I still can’t get him to respond to me on Facebook just to find out how he is, make sure he’s still alive during COVID. Meanwhile, I’ve been friends online with Peter for many years. He messaged me recently to make sure I hadn’t gotten the plague. I want to find out the same from my other exes. Because no matter what they did 25 or 30 years ago, I still care.
This idea that abusers/rapists should not apologize–This is not universally held! I wonder how many of my abusers have held back from that apology I long for, because they’ve heard this.
Here’s someone else who welcomed that apology from her abuser years later: My abuser apologized, and I forgave him.
Another writer says that the #MeToo movement should demand apologies, that they are important to make the patriarchy start to crumble: Men need to stand up and apologize for sexual abuse, says Vagina Monologues playwright Eve Ensler
A therapist explains how to properly make such an apology: Dear Therapist: Is it possible to apologize for a sexual assault?
In a way, seeing threads like the one I saw today, telling men to NEVER EVER track her down to apologize, feels like a new violation, a new invalidation of my feelings about past abuse. It feels like yet another denial of those apologies I so crave, like I’m wrong to even want an abuser to apologize to me. It’s good to do a quick Google search and see that no, I’m not wrong, that many people do actually feel the same way I do about apologies from abusers.
Danny reached out to me a few weeks ago for the first time in almost three decades to apologize, and I had no idea how much I needed to hear that from him.
Of course, an apology doesn’t change what Danny did to me and hearing it didn’t instantly wipe away the suffering I’ve experienced throughout my life because of it. However, Danny taking ownership of his actions, acknowledging how wrong they were and expressing his deep sorrow for what he did has helped to begin healing a wound I thought would never heal.
We aren’t sure where we go from here, but we are both better for having made contact again and the reconciliation that occurred as a result. My story is mine alone and every other survivor has their own personal tale to tell ― or not tell. That is up to them. And, if someone else’s abuser reaches out to ask for forgiveness, there should be no expectation that the survivor in that situation should accept the apology. Every experience and every survivor and every abuser is different and everyone needs to do what feels right to them.
However, Danny and I hope that as we as a nation continue to grapple with domestic violence, sexual assault and other incredibly personal and consequential traumas, our story might provide an example of what can happen when people take responsibility for their actions, even if it’s 30 years later. –Donna Thomas, My Abuser Contacted Me After 30 Years. Now We’ve Both Agreed To Tell Our Stories. We need to hear stories from men who have taken responsibility for their actions.