35 years ago I was in a 5yr relationship with an abusive boyfriend. After being admitted to hospital for complete breakdown two years ago, last week I found the strength to write a letter to him telling him how I felt about what he did to me (hitting and forcing me to have sex) and feel relief that I have done this. But I received a reply from him denying everything and saying my motive was “highly suspect”.  While I don’t expect anything from him and I am proud that even after all these years I found my voice, it irks me that he is suspicious of my motive.  Should I respond?  I feel I should but think by corresponding again I am prolonging the issue. 

A:  Facing your fears and confronting your abuser after all these years took courage. You deserve to be proud of yourself, and you deserve to continue feeling good. If you contact him again, I fear that you could lose the good feelings you have now. Confronting an abuser is often a very healing act, but it is the act itself that is healing, not the response (or lack of response) that you might get. In my experience, it is rare for an abusive person to admit what they have done and make amends. If it does happen, it is generally because they themselves initiated the action, rather than responding to a confrontation from the victim.

Don’t concern yourself with what he finds “highly suspect.”  The more you try to clarify or communicate with him, the messier it may get. My advice is to refocus your energy on your own healing. You may even try re-writing the letter over and over in a journal until you feel you can truly let it go, close this chapter of your life, and move on. Take your power back and keep your focus on the present and the gains you have made.

All the best,

Dr. Holly Counts