Abuser is dying

Catlovers141

Confident
Content note: Childhood sexual abuse (though no details given in this post).

I was sexually abused as a very little child by a family member whom I recently found out has been having ongoing health crises and is likely to not survive for very much longer. This has brought up a lot for me both in terms of how I feel about him and preparing myself for how I want to handle when he does pass away. I have so many mixed emotions and they feel so conflicting. Sometimes I'm so angry at what happened to me that it feels really great to see him suffer, especially since the same traits that I believe led him to be abusive are the same ones that are ultimately killing him now -- there is a sense of poetic justice in that. Other times I feel guilty about feeling that way, and want to move towards forgiveness and compassion but am not sure what that looks like without excusing the behavior. It is sad that the way he grew up contributed to his behaviors and that ultimately those things are shortening his life, and that he might not get the peace that I would want most everyone to have. But I also don't want him to have it. And then I feel guilty for not wanting that, and start wanting it again. I want him to be held accountable but I also want to be able to feel okay about myself. It doesn't feel good to me when I take pleasure in his suffering, even though I believe he deserves it and so much more. Has anyone had similar struggles? How do you balance such conflicting perspectives?

I'm also thinking about if there is anything I would want to say or do while he is still alive. I told his wife about the abuse, and she told him that I disclosed to her, so I've confronted him indirectly. But I know that I have limited time where he is still alive and want to make sure I am not missing anything. Is there anything that you would have wanted to say or do while your abuser was still alive?
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
I don't have any answers. But wanted to say I think you've been really brave telling his wife.
And totally understandable you would have these conflicting thoughts. Seems a very natural way of thinking?

For me it wasn't family who did that.
Where I'm at is wanting some sense of justice from the people who hurt me that way. But I can't see how I can get that as don't know the identity of one. The other two: I can't see how I can get it.
What I think I would like most is an apology. An acknowledgement. But that isn't available for me.

What do you want from that family member?
And do you think you would get it?
If you went to see them and you didn't get what you wanted, how would that make you feel?
 

Catlovers141

Confident
Thank you for your response. I definitely would want an apology. I'd actually really like just an acknowledgement that it happened, and part of me also wants some gaps in my memory filled in, but I'm not so sure that having more details about what happened would really be helpful. But in some ways what I want from him doesn't really matter, since he is unlikely to give me any of that.

I'm also hoping that after he dies, others might come forward with similar experiences. I certainly don't hope that this happened to other people, but if it did I'm hoping that they might come forward. As much as I'd hate to know that someone else went through this with him, but it would be nice to have someone else to share these experiences.
 

woodsy1

MyPTSD Pro
Content note: Childhood sexual abuse (though no details given in this post).

I was sexually abused as a very little child by a family member whom I recently found out has been having ongoing health crises and is likely to not survive for very much longer.
First and foremost I am saddened that this happened to you. Nobody deserves to have their life so cold-heartedly wrecked from such a young age. I personally find it very easy to be angry with child abusers.
This has brought up a lot for me both in terms of how I feel about him and preparing myself for how I want to handle when he does pass away. I have so many mixed emotions and they feel so conflicting. Sometimes I'm so angry at what happened to me that it feels really great to see him suffer, especially since the same traits that I believe led him to be abusive are the same ones that are ultimately killing him now -- there is a sense of poetic justice in that. Other times I feel guilty about feeling that way, and want to move towards forgiveness and compassion but am not sure what that looks like without excusing the behavior.
I was abused by people who were supposed to love me and be my protectors and nurturers. It created a dichotomy of emotions in me. Love on the one hand. Hate on the other.

In time I came to see my abusers as people who were not all good or all evil. They are a mixture of both, maybe leaning more extreme on the evil side than me, but people nonetheless.

I do think there often is some poetic justice. I have a tendency to be glad my abusers are suffering, then to feel guilty for that. Maybe your conflicted feelings are not so unusual.
It is sad that the way he grew up contributed to his behaviors and that ultimately those things are shortening his life, and that he might not get the peace that I would want most everyone to have. But I also don't want him to have it. And then I feel guilty for not wanting that, and start wanting it again. I want him to be held accountable but I also want to be able to feel okay about myself. It doesn't feel good to me when I take pleasure in his suffering, even though I believe he deserves it and so much more. Has anyone had similar struggles? How do you balance such conflicting perspectives?
Yes! I have felt just like that. Seeing the world and people in shades of grey instead of black and white has helped me. It's also helped me to allow myself to feel what ever feelings come until I'm done feeling them. Angry. Spiteful. Vengeful. Sad. Compassionate. Two feelings at once. Yup. Yup. Yup.

Let the feelings come in full force. Express them in some healthy way. Chat here and with my therapist. Journaling. Many things help.
I'm also thinking about if there is anything I would want to say or do while he is still alive. I told his wife about the abuse, and she told him that I disclosed to her, so I've confronted him indirectly. But I know that I have limited time where he is still alive and want to make sure I am not missing anything. Is there anything that you would have wanted to say or do while your abuser was still alive?
We are all a little different from one another. I personally would like to tell my abuser just how much he hurt me and forgive him whether he felt my pain and apologized or not.

I did this in a way. I had a discussion in my car with my abuser who wasn't really there. Probably looked crazy if anyone saw me, but it worked. I told my abuser all about it.

Then, because I read that you know you've forgiven someone when you can do them kindness (sounded good at the time), I anonymously sent my abuser a gift card.

My steps won't work for everyone. But they worked for me. My abuser can die now and I don't think it will matter to me one way or the other.
 

Catlovers141

Confident
First and foremost I am saddened that this happened to you. Nobody deserves to have their life so cold-heartedly wrecked from such a young age. I personally find it very easy to be angry with child abusers.

I was abused by people who were supposed to love me and be my protectors and nurturers. It created a dichotomy of emotions in me. Love on the one hand. Hate on the other.

In time I came to see my abusers as people who were not all good or all evil. They are a mixture of both, maybe leaning more extreme on the evil side than me, but people nonetheless.

I do think there often is some poetic justice. I have a tendency to be glad my abusers are suffering, then to feel guilty for that. Maybe your conflicted feelings are not so unusual.

Yes! I have felt just like that. Seeing the world and people in shades of grey instead of black and white has helped me. It's also helped me to allow myself to feel what ever feelings come until I'm done feeling them. Angry. Spiteful. Vengeful. Sad. Compassionate. Two feelings at once. Yup. Yup. Yup.

Let the feelings come in full force. Express them in some healthy way. Chat here and with my therapist. Journaling. Many things help.

We are all a little different from one another. I personally would like to tell my abuser just how much he hurt me and forgive him whether he felt my pain and apologized or not.

I did this in a way. I had a discussion in my car with my abuser who wasn't really there. Probably looked crazy if anyone saw me, but it worked. I told my abuser all about it.

Then, because I read that you know you've forgiven someone when you can do them kindness (sounded good at the time), I anonymously sent my abuser a gift card.

My steps won't work for everyone. But they worked for me. My abuser can die now and I don't think it will matter to me one way or the other.
Thank you for sharing your experience. I am also sorry for what you went through, and for what you've experienced recently. The trauma is difficult in itself to go through, but adding on conflicting feelings can make it feel more complicated. It can be so hard to see abusers as people, and there also seems to be a bit of peace with that as well. I think part of my difficulty is that it's hard to really understand what that means.

That's amazing that you sent your abuser a gift card. That sentence really made me think. I'm not sure I could do that, at least not yet.
 

woodsy1

MyPTSD Pro
Thank you for sharing your experience. I am also sorry for what you went through, and for what you've experienced recently. The trauma is difficult in itself to go through, but adding on conflicting feelings can make it feel more complicated.
Absolutely, conflicted feelings suck. Do our abusers realize when they abuse us that we're going to have to deal with the pain of their abuse AND our own sense of conscience which it seems they don't have?!? If they do realize this, then double shame on them! Perhaps they are as close to non-human as can be!

In my case, my abusers were a product of their own delusional world view. I don't think they really recognize that their world view is causing devastation in their own lives and the lives of those who they don't even realize they are abusing. Probably because of this, it's easier for me to see my abusers as human and empathize with them a little.

Your abuse and abuser are different. I would expect your resolution to be different.
It can be so hard to see abusers as people, and there also seems to be a bit of peace with that as well. I think part of my difficulty is that it's hard to really understand what that means.
I get that. I watch forensic crime shows. While I can relate to my abusers as troubled fellow humans, it's really hard for me to empathize with the criminals on those shows who cold-heartedly and selfishly ruin other people's lives. They seem more like animals than people.
That's amazing that you sent your abuser a gift card. That sentence really made me think. I'm not sure I could do that, at least not yet.
I couldn't do it either. Until I could. It gave me closure. It was like saying, ok, now I'm done dealing with this.

I did it because I needed to be able to move on. I self isolated in my house for 6 hellish years unable to deal with the world. As if it wasn't bad enough my abusers traumatized me for 18 years, they continued to debilitate me for another 6 years while I refused to process the harm they'd done to me.

For these 6 years, they didn't even have contact with me. But they still had me in their grip. So I had to find closure.

For me, the gift card brought the closure I needed. It may be that something entirely different works for you.

My hope is simply that you find the closure you need. Your abuser is not worth another day of your suffering.

Woodsy1
 

Friday

Moderator
Other times I feel guilty about feeling that way, and want to move towards forgiveness and compassion but am not sure what that looks like without excusing the behavior.
My favorite definition of forgiveness has absolutely nothing to do with condoning what happened, excusing anyone or anything, making friends -or even something as simple as NOT shooting- the person (meaning, sure, the death penalty can still apply, because what happened was that degree of wrong); nor does mean that it doesn’t still hurt, or make me angry, or that I’m even a little bit okay now... all it is?

Giving up all hope... for a better past.
I want him to be held accountable but I also want to be able to feel okay about myself.
^^^This^^^ would be a fantastic thing to unpack with your therapist if you have one. Because the concept that you couldn’t/shouldn’t feel okay about yourself when someone else is held responsible for their own actions? Is a complicated one. It can spin out in a hundred -wildly different- directions. And every single one of those directions? Is useful.
It doesn't feel good to me when I take pleasure in his suffering, even though I believe he deserves it and so much more. Has anyone had similar struggles?
Taking your revenge on someone? Will usually f*ck you up more than it f*cks them up. There’s very good reason why most people who kill, try and kill cleanly. Because almost everyone has killed someone badly, on purpose or on accident, and it’s usually a hard & complicated thing. Not because of TV nonsense. And not always. And I’m not going into that, because that’s not reeeeally what I think you’re talking about. Why I’m bringing it up at all, is because even people who kill for a living, can & do struggle with inflicting pain... once it crosses an internal line.

But that simply isn’t discussed in “polite society”. A person is “supposed” to feel bad, full stop. But that’s not actually how it works, for most people, most of the time. Instead? There’s no bad feelings up to a certain point, a mix of bad/good feelings once you cross one internal line, and then bad feeling after you cross a wholly different line. But the whole damn thing? Isn’t linear. It’s more circular. Sometimes a -very good, by all standards- person feels nothing but good about what they’ve done (you don’t have to be a bad person to enjoy hurting someone who deserves it). You get lucky when that happens. Like yanking a rapist off of someone and smashing their face into a wall and helping their victim escape? Just. Feels. Good. Other times? That exact scenario is going to Just. Feel. Terrible. Hating the entire thing from beginning to end. There’s a term amongst people who live/work in violence called “blood sick”. It doesn’t matter how justified, or how good you “should” feel about what you just did... everything just feels bad. (Berserk, meanwhile, is essentially the opposite).

Again, I’m tipping this iceberg of a wholly different situation, just to show that even people who are well practiced at this shit feel differently, at different times. It’s NOT Hollywood. Real life is complicated. And some things really just aren’t discussed anymore. (If you break out books and journals 100+ years old, on the other hand? You’ll find people discussing it a rather lot. That’s one of the things that WAS very helpful for me, once I had left my peer-group / didn’t have anyone who understood to check my True North with. Because pop-culture? Sure as shit doesn’t help. It’s 2-Dimensional Dreamland out there, like listening to virgins discuss sex. With all these “ideas” about what it “should” be that someone feels or wants. And it isn’t. It’s complicated. And that’s okay.
How do you balance such conflicting perspectives?
And just to underscore this? Nowhere I can think of, outside of Hollywood ideas around good people / bad people, are conflicting emotions & conflicting perspectives considered wrong.

Bittersweet.
Seeing both sides.
Tears of joy.
Ever had the feeling that you wanted to go? Still had the feeling that you wanted to stay?

Conflicting emotions & conflicting perspectives? Are a part of life. Of REAL life. Where you don’t have to forgive someone in order to miss them, and you don’t need anyone’s permission to love someone you hate.


Is there anything that you would have wanted to say or do while your abuser was still alive?
To have been so utterly indifferent to them that the thought never crossed my mind. Which is less saying something to them, and more about saying something to them. IE anything I say to an asshole, is for my benefit, not theirs. I’ve been lucky enough to have been that indifferent on a couple occasions... which means the thing I usually want most to DO whilst they’re still alive? Is to DGAF. Because they have no power over me. I don’t love them. I don’t hate them. They mean less than nothing to me. Clearly, to know it’s lucky to have that? Means I’ve also still wanted to shred them, when they went and died on me... or have kept a piece of my heart locked away, especially for them, because I still love them. Shrug. The human heart. Capable of amazing feats. Probably something to be grateful for, but I still love that brass ring of indifference.
 
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scout86

MyPTSD Pro
Is there anything that you would have wanted to say or do while your abuser was still alive?
No. There are plenty of things I'd like to do TO him (none of them legal) but there's no point in talking.

I have no idea what the person your thinking of is actually like. My perception is that these people are generally pretty challenged in the empathy department. Part of how they do what they do involves discounting, or distorting the feelings of other. If I told him he messed up my life, I seriously doubt he'd care. And then I'm NOT going to give him the satisfaction of knowing he hurt me.

This whole topic is really complicated, like @Friday said. And it's different for different people If you have a therapist, talk about it. If you don't have one, consider the possibility. I think, in general, there's no satisfying way to get revenge and expecting remorse is unrealistic. Look for the things out of all this that will help you be the best version of you you can be. Sometimes surviving and, hopefully, thriving is the best revenge. Forgiveness? IDK That means different things to different people. I don't think it's required. It's an option, but don't expect anything from the other party.
 

FreeSoul

Learning
Content note: Childhood sexual abuse (though no details given in this post).

I was sexually abused as a very little child by a family member whom I recently found out has been having ongoing health crises and is likely to not survive for very much longer. This has brought up a lot for me both in terms of how I feel about him and preparing myself for how I want to handle when he does pass away. I have so many mixed emotions and they feel so conflicting. Sometimes I'm so angry at what happened to me that it feels really great to see him suffer, especially since the same traits that I believe led him to be abusive are the same ones that are ultimately killing him now -- there is a sense of poetic justice in that. Other times I feel guilty about feeling that way, and want to move towards forgiveness and compassion but am not sure what that looks like without excusing the behavior. It is sad that the way he grew up contributed to his behaviors and that ultimately those things are shortening his life, and that he might not get the peace that I would want most everyone to have. But I also don't want him to have it. And then I feel guilty for not wanting that, and start wanting it again. I want him to be held accountable but I also want to be able to feel okay about myself. It doesn't feel good to me when I take pleasure in his suffering, even though I believe he deserves it and so much more. Has anyone had similar struggles? How do you balance such conflicting perspectives?

I'm also thinking about if there is anything I would want to say or do while he is still alive. I told his wife about the abuse, and she told him that I disclosed to her, so I've confronted him indirectly. But I know that I have limited time where he is still alive and want to make sure I am not missing anything. Is there anything that you would have wanted to say or do while your abuser was still alive?
The conflict between seeing my abusers suffer and the fact that they too suffered trauma in their childhood confuses me as well. Since I am still recovering from my traumatic past, I often swing between the two.
I do wish to focus on my own life rather than telling them anything now, because their response may trigger or cause more trauma to me. This has been my experience.
 

Recovery4Me

MyPTSD Pro
I intend to read more of the posts, however, I started shutting down so had to stop reading in order to share. Without going into specifics of my saga, I wish to offer empathy on your dilemma.

I personally didn't ask for an apology as countless years of h3ll can’t be undone. What I did do was sink my teeth into my therapist and Minister to guide me mentally as well as spiritually as I became unglued. If there is an Higher Power that you recognize this is the time to communicate and find your true authentic self.

Cross roads in journeys often seem either/or limiting our options, however, being defiant myself...I blazed a trail down the middle of the roads until I felt grounded. Then it was not a matter of critical choice but a matter of just being true to myself.

Sending luv and light your way during this season: may you find the answer you need.
 
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