I asked the mother of my abuser, "What were you thinking?"

An Open Letter to the Mother of My Abuser

Dear Mother of My Abuser,

I just have to ask: “What were you thinking?”

I know that a mother cannot be held accountable for the actions of her children.  We teach them the best we can, but ultimately they are responsible for their own actions and decisions. But you were a surrogate mother to me. I trusted you.

It all makes sense now though. It never was about me; that’s why it didn’t concern you when I finally divulged my ugly little secret.  I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by your reaction when you learned that your son was abusing me.

I will never forget the conversation, that day when I sensed a small, open window of reprieve. I was confident that you would back me if you knew that someone was hurting me. I forgot one important detail, though. That someone was your son.

I had waited two long years to speak the ugly truth. I had carried my burden alone, waiting for someone who could interrupt the abuse without inciting the anger of my abuser. That day had finally arrived!

“He hits me.”

I expected you to validate me. I thought you would say words that would give me a glimpse of hope. Words like: “I’m so sorry. This must be very hard for you. Let me talk to him. How often does this happen? Tell me about it. When does he hit you? Has he ever hurt you? How can I help? Maybe you two should see a counselor. I am here for you.”

But you said none of that. You summed up your worldview in one brief statement. “You must do something to make him hit you.”

We never talked about it again. I went back to carrying my shame alone. You went back to making your son happy.

It was a sad day when I realized that your happiness never was about me. It was always tied directly to the happiness of your son. When he was happy, you were happy. When he was unhappy, you did everything in your power to make him happy: money, a new car, even an obedient punching bag of a wife.

So I’ll ask you one more time. What were you thinking?

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