Dear Annie: I am a 52-year-old man who came to this country when I was 15. I met this friend, “Tom,” when I was in high school, and I spent a lot of time at his house when I was 16.
His mom, “Diane,” was very kind to me, and she was 39 years old at the time. She would take me home after a visit. One night, when she was taking me home, she stopped the car and molested me.
From then on, Diane would molest me quite often. She started brainwashing me and manipulating me, saying that I didn’t need anyone but her. So I disowned my family and moved in with this family. Diane divorced her husband to be with me.
I didn’t want any of this, but that was all I knew at 16. I eventually married my abuser when I was in my early 20s. During our marriage, I could have and should have left. I stayed because she had been brainwashing me since I was 16 to love her and only her.
Fast-forward to 2019; Diane divorced me because she found someone else who is still married and 15 years younger than she is.
Now I miss my own family and keep thinking about how she robbed me of my teenage years and years afterward. My question is: Is there anything I can do legally to hold her accountable for the molestation since there is no statute of limitations on sexual abuse? — Loss and Regret
Dear Loss and Regret: I am so sorry that you had to encounter such a horrible, manipulative person when you were young and vulnerable. No child — and child is what you were — should have to suffer that type of abuse. You sound like you have had some good therapy because you see now that her behavior was truly manipulative and intended to brainwash you. My guess is that your healing and self-care journey will last a lifetime, but that will only make life more joyful. What we put in, we get out of this life.
Of course you miss your family, and that is what the healing is for. Tell them that all the time — how much you missed them. You can’t go back to the past, but you can look to the future. There is a reason the rearview mirror is a lot smaller than the forward-facing windshield. Look toward the future and, as much as you can, forgive your perpetrator and forgive the young boy who didn’t know any better. Once you give yourself that gift, you will feel lighter and less angry. As for legal recourse, I’m not sure. I will print this letter in hopes that an attorney who specializes in this type of law might write to me.
But seeking legal action and having to relive all the trauma again and again might not be the best way for YOU to move forward. The best revenge is living well, so continue to stay committed to that course.
I just read this quote and am hoping it will ring true for you:
“The kindest people are not born that way, they are made. They are the sounds that have experienced so much at the hands of life, they are the ones who have dug themselves out of the dark, who have fought to turn every loss into a lesson. The kindest people do not just exist — they choose to soften where circumstance has tried to harden them, they choose to believe in goodness, because they have seen firsthand why compassion is so necessary. They have seen firsthand why tenderness is so important in this world.” — Bianca Sparacino
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