On Abuse

Content notice: abuse, rape, threats, depression.

Earlier this week, someone who had been abusive towards me contacted me. An email, written as if out of the blue, informed me that I was forgiven, and wished me a nice life. One might have thought that would give me a bit of closure.

Sadly, it didn’t. The person in question had sent me several emails in the past. One of these essentially took credit for all the abuse I was the victim of last year. The author taunted me and told me that I would never go to the police because of the nature of our past relationship. That much is true. I didn’t go to the police with this revelation because, in spite of myself, as much as the person had tormented me, I didn’t want to be responsible for seeing them go to prison. It’s rather sad and illogical that I would think that of someone who was taking credit, gleefully, for sending me around 50 rape threats a day. But I suppose I hoped this person would see the error of their ways. The fact that they sent me another email, feigning no knowledge of the abuse shows that isn’t the case – either, they assume they can get away with it, or, they aren’t actually responsible, and someone has stolen their identity, and then attacked me, using, at times, specific knowledge about me that only they could have known. Which is so unlikely that the only reason that I even bother to write it is that is because I’m trying to assume the best of people.

I waited a week, and wrote back saying, something along the lines of “well, how nice of you to forgive me. You sent me death and rape threats. I’m not forgiving you.” Wait, let me correct that – I wrote that response instantly, but only sent it just now. The reason I did that was because I wasn’t sure if I was being too harsh. They wanted to forgive me, so why shouldn’t I forgive them? Let bygones be bygones, get on with our lives, and so on. That, it seemed, would be the decent thing to do, and I want to do the decent thing.

Except forgiveness does have a limit. I wrote about that in general broad terms in a post a while ago, to do with forgiving people bigoted views when their art is enjoyable. But my own standards of forgiveness are different. I can’t, for one thing, forgive someone who hasn’t apologised for wrong doings. That’s a given. I also can’t forgive someone who is responsible for harassing me for an entire year. There was no point. The outcome was that I internalised all of the constant bombardment of abuse. I was often told, in these messages, that I deserved to be raped. So constant and unrelenting was the message was that I believed it. Same of the threats that I needed to kill myself. Now, the individual who messaged me knew that I suffer from severe depression and have attempted suicide more times than I care to count. They also know I am a survivor of rape. With that in mind, does it seem horrible for me to not want to want to be forgiving?

Yet there is still part of me which does feel bad for not being forgiving. I have managed to forgive plenty of people who wronged me in life, but this one is someone I simply cannot forgive. If that makes me a bad person, so be it.


One thought on “On Abuse

  1. I don't blame you for struggling with this one. I would find it hard to forgive someone who sank that low and who really wished considerable harm on me. They plumbed the depths when abusing you and presumably enjoyed the pain they knew they were causing. I think letting them stew in their own juice now is righteous.

    The fact that you feel bad speaks to you as a man and really has nothing to do with them.

    Some people think that owning up to wrongdoing is the same as apologising and they expect praise for it.


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