The following is a victim impact statement the author read to her abuser at his court hearing:
We are here today, with all of these people around us, for one purpose: for you to finally publicly claim your guilt. I actually never thought this day would happen, but I am relieved it has. I do not believe that now, because this day is happening, that “this whole thing” is over. It isn’t. It will take the rest of my life to truly heal from what you’ve done to me, but I do know and I hope that this will be a big step in my healing and justice for victims everywhere.
Can you even name all of the things you’ve done to me and my family over the years?
I hate everything you did to me. I hate the way you looked at me. I hate the way you smelled. I hate the way you sounded when you orgasmed. I hate the way you made me feel like it was my fault and that I wanted it. I WAS A FUCKING KID. Of course I didn’t want it. I hate how you made me feel sick, disgusting, and crazy. So insanely crazy. I hate how you made me feel like a whore and made me question so many key parts of my identity. I hate the way you manipulated my brother to believe you. I hate how you pitted my family against me just to protect yourself. I hate the nightmares I have because of you. The paranoia. The years and thousands and thousands of dollars I’ve spent on therapy and medications to feel somewhat normal, somewhat human.
You violated me. YOUR ONLY DAUGHTER. Your child. You created me with my mother and you touched me in places you should have NEVER touched me. You penetrated my body. My heart. My soul. You violated the deepest parts of me in a way I could never get back. In a way I am still not “over.” Not only did you violate me for yourself, but you took pictures of me in my most vulnerable state, naked, and then shared them with people I don’t know! What kind of sick monster does that? You USED me.
I was just a child when it all started. I don’t even know when…it feels like it’s the only memories my body holds of you. Of you touching me, raping me, violating me, manipulating me.
You turned me into a silent prostitute so I could try to live as close to a “normal” life as possible. If I wanted to hang out with friends, it would cost me. The control. The abuse. The terror.
It never ended. Even after it ended, it didn’t end. The terror still lived in my dreams, in my body, in my mind. The fear of you showing up and harming me again and again and again. The fear of you hunting me down and killing me for the times I’ve used my voice. For standing up for myself after you’ve tried so hard to keep me silent. To kill my passion. To stamp out all signs of hope and life within me.
Well, you failed. You fucking failed.
I am not dead. I am not silent. I still have passion flowing through my veins. With my pulsing blood, my resounding cries and my laughter. Oh God, my laughter has not died. You have not succeeded in making me yours. I am mine. I am God’s. I am NOT yours.
You may be listed as my father on my birth certificate, but you are NOT my father. You are not my dad. You never were. You chose to try to take me as your lover instead of your daughter, and you can never take that decision back. I needed a father, a dad, a protector. Not a lover. What kind of child needs a lover? No, I needed a protector—a loving father who cherishes his daughter. Not one who harms her and uses her night after night for his own pleasure. And that is a hole in my heart that will never be filled.
But, that has changed.
You no longer get to touch me. You no longer get to rape me. You no longer get to decide who or when or if I date. You no longer decide what happens to my body. You no longer get to dress me or undress me. You no longer get to take pictures of me. You no longer get to make me watch pornography or have me be a part of your sick fantasies. You no longer have control over me.
I am strong. I have a voice and I am using it. This entire process over the last two years has not been to make you suffer, but to empower myself and to prove to myself that I no longer live under you and your wishes or demands for me, but that I have my own power, my own voice, my own agency. My loyalty is no longer to you, but to my God, my self, and my husband.
You may not be in prison or behind bars, but instead of carrying this scarlet letter with me everywhere I go, I am taking this sign of shame and chaining it to you. You will now be marked for the rest of your life for what you have done to me. The shame I have been carrying my entire life has not been mine to carry. It is yours. For you were in the wrong. Not me. I don’t have to carry it anymore. It is my story and it always will be, but I will not allow it to have power over me or control me. Rather, it is a source of strength and pride now. To see how I have come out of the ashes and have risen to a new life. One where I get to stand tall knowing that I am strong. I am a fighter and a survivor and Lord knows I have survived much.
I have survived you.
Can you survive you? Can you live with what you’ve done? How long have you been lying to yourself and those you claim to love about the truth of who you are?
My hope is that you will take this opportunity to really look at yourself and come clean with who you are and what you’ve done. My hope is that you will be able to change, be transformed, and healed from the pain and suffering you have experienced and the suffering you have caused so many others.
Hurt people hurt people, father. I am not naive enough to believe that you were not harmed. A few of the stories you told me have stuck with me. But, the hurt and pain and trauma you experienced does not justify the horrors you have committed in your life. Find healing. My hope is that you will stop lying to my brother, that you will tell him the truth about what you’ve done and who you are. Stop dragging him down with you. Please. I need him and the rest of my family. You’ve taken enough from me. Please don’t take my family from me, too.
My hope is that the world will be a safer place. That you will not be able to harm anyone else. Lord knows I pray that you haven’t harmed anyone else like you’ve harmed me. My hope is that other survivors and victims will begin to stand up against their abusers and fight for justice. This is not just for me and my own story, but for the thousands, if not millions of other women and girls who have not had the chance or opportunity to do this, to stand before their abuser in a court of law and fight for justice, sharing their story so it is no longer filled with shame or secrets, but can be powerful and freeing and truth-telling. This is for all of us who have been silenced. I will not be silent anymore.