I recently learned that someone left one of my abusers. As much as I would love to take her to coffee and have a long, heartfelt conversation, it is neither wise or safe for me to make contact. I’ve had zero contact with my abuser for many years, and I never met the person who left. The relationship I had with the abuser was not romantic, but the person who left married him and had children. Even from a great distance, enough has trickled back for me to be very concerned. I’ve been praying for the safety of her and her children for years.
Many of us feel the urge to reach out to the other victims in order to warn them or to validate our own experience. I feel connected to this woman I’ve never met, because of the abuser in common. I bet we observed the same behaviors, and need to sort out similar issues about ourselves as a result. In different circumstances, I imagine we could be friends. I desperately want validation and closure for my own traumas, but I also know that in this case, making contact is a bad idea. I would be risking my own privacy and safety, which I value far more than closure. I have no idea where this person is at, whether they are healthy or toxic, or what degree of contact they still have with the abuser. And, who knows? Maybe I’ve got it all wrong. I could be projecting my experience onto her, although it’s unlikely. I have enough information to make an educated guess that her entanglement with the abuser was far more toxic and complicated than mine.
So, here’s what I would say if I could talk to her:
I want you to know it’s not your fault. You seem like a kind and nurturing person, and I’m guessing you were groomed to feel responsible for him. I don’t know you, and I’m not going to presume to know how you are feeling in this moment. I’m guessing that there’s a whole range of emotion that goes along with your decision to leave. But I want you to know that I am so relieved that you found a way out.
I hope you have the support you need. I hope the new community you planted yourself in has the resources to help you and your children. I imagine you are devastated, emotionally and financially. I know very little about you, but from what I’ve seen, you are resourceful and creative. You have what it takes to survive this, and what you did was very brave.
It must have been hard. You must’ve felt so isolated. It was hard to watch, even from a great distance. No one deserves to be treated that way. I am proud of you for having the strength to recognize what’s true, even though all the gaslighting and manipulation.
You did the right thing by leaving. There is no circumstance where the abuser could have gotten better, seen the errors of his ways, or felt remorse for his behavior. He’s pathologically unable to do those things. By leaving, your children now have the opportunity to thrive. I hope you continue to heal and rebuild your life. I am rooting for you.