My name is Haven. I help trauma survivors heal through writing. One of the women I’ve been coaching felt inspired to write a public “open letter,” and she asked me to publish it anonymously for fear of repercussions.
* * *
Your world ends. Not with a bang, but with a whimper and the single tear you will let fall.
It happens slowly. Only after you’re in the middle of it are you able to look back and see all of the little things that created this hell. I know better than to call it a life.
Life is lived and enjoyed and loved. I vaguely remember enjoying life, and I definitely remember loving. It was wonderful, but that was a long time ago.
I cannot speak of this. Not to anyone. Not that they would believe me. Or even care. The consequences would be deadly.
I have tried. There are some people who know. But nothing will ever touch him, and I have no one.
You see, I am being abused by my own son.
It started off slowly, in such small ways. He is his father’s son and it shows in so many ways. I left his father years ago, but the damage was already done. It’s as if it is in his DNA.
It is a hopeless situation. The police were called a few times, but my son is a charming narcissistic with no criminal history. Besides, who would believe that a son would abuse his mother? Pishaw! He sweet-talks his way around town, performing good deeds and being a respected member of the community. He is untouchable.
He was a sweet, kind little boy. I remember holding him in my arms. After the divorce, his father took off and it was just us. He had strong male role models, but something deep inside made him want to be like his daddy when he grew up.
He never leaves marks, at least not where you can see. Most of the marks are on my heart. I suffer panic attacks when he rages and have PTSD. I live in fear each day, tiptoeing around him and praying that nothing will set him off. His mental and emotional abuse is far worse than the physical manifestations of his wrath.
He loves to watch me cry. He sits in the corner and taunts me while he talks on the phone with his friends. He watches and berates, proud and vain, even when certain friends chastise him for his cruelty. His contorted, mad face is frightening.
This is not my son. I don’t recognize this person.
I used to love him. I tried to get him help, but he screamed at one counselor until she left her own office, and he wined and dined another counselor. It breaks my heart to admit this, but I’m not sure if I still love him.
If I were in good health, perhaps I could seek shelter, but I’m too old to start over. He has control of my finances and my disability checks. He makes enough money to live on his own, and he could’ve left, but he seems to want to be here. Why?
No one can help me. His older sister knows about his abuse, but she has her own family, and because he also tortured her, she is relieved to be far away from him.
I am imprisoned, and each day brings fresh wounds.
I wish I could escape.
* * *
Elder abuse is a very real thing, and it happens behind closed doors. There are a few support groups, but some older people don’t have Internet access or other resources and many people who are abused find it difficult to talk about.
I wrote this open letter to warn you: Never allow another person to have full control over your life. If you see hints of mental instability in your loved ones, it’s OK to try to get help for them, but understand that you can’t force an adult to get better. If your loved ones refuse to accept help, or if you are in a dangerous situation, then try to remove yourself from their lives.
If you have family members who you believe are being abused, help them to find safe situations. I know it is hard to take care of other person, and it can feel a lot of responsibility, but just remember that there have also been times when taking care of you was also difficult.