Q: From the time I was 15-18, I was abused mentally and sexually by a very close adult mentor/friend. Aside from the abusive part, he was a great role model for me. I’m almost 20 now, and I have not spoken with him or seen him since I was 18. We both have received separate counseling, and I have accepted what happened, and he has expressed remorse and the both of us have been counseled to never have any contact or communication with each other. He seems to be on board with the idea, but I struggle with it. Why is it important to be completely separated, even years after the matter? Is it ever possible for the abused and the abuser to ever have a friendship with each other? Why or why not?
A: Wow, this is a tough one. I’m really struggling with the sentence, “aside from the abusive part, he was a great role model for me.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard it put quite that way before and I’m really not sure that anyone could be both… abusive and a great role model. Of course human beings are extremely complicated and multidimensional and I believe that we all have good and bad qualities. However, he took advantage of you when you were still at an impressionable age. What if due to this influence he has over you, you are giving him more credit than he deserves or overlooking his faults? What if he is pretending to be remorseful just to get you back into a position of trusting him?
On the other hand, maybe he really is remorseful and knows he was wrong but he is keeping his distance for reasons you don’t understand. Maybe he needs to do that so that he doesn’t hurt you again (or anyone else). I think you need to respect the boundaries in place but I also think you can forgive and move on with your life. If you keep your guard up it may not be damaging to be friendly with him again but I would advise caution. It might be helpful to imagine that you have children of your own and the same scenario took place. How would you feel then? Be careful and good luck
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 29 Aug 2007
Counts, H. (2007). What is the importance of separating the abused from the abuser?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 10, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/08/29/what-is-the-importance-of-separating-the-abused-from-the-abuser/