“Dear Abuser”

Dear President Trump,

Sometimes I can be pretty dense. Yesterday as I was going over papers to include in a review of therapies for people with both PTSD and substance use disorders I came across two that evaluated treatments involving writing about one’s traumas. This led me to remember how such writing therapies got traction, in part, because many trauma survivors found it beneficial to write letters they would likely never send to the person(s) who had abused them, typically telling them how the abuse had affected them and how they felt about the abuser. This, in turn, led me to realize that there’s quite a parallel between those “Dear Abuser” letters and the letters I send you every day (it’s pretty much the same thing since you don’t read them). Of course I am not one of the women you grabbed or kissed or were otherwise lecherous towards, and I’m not someone you’ve attacked on social media or tried to crush. Thus, you have not abused me in a formal, personal, sense. However, you are my most difficult person because you are profoundly, sickly abusive. How you were as a candidate, how you have been every single day as president, all of if has been abusive to someone or to many someones and the rest of us have had to watch in mostly helpless horror.

And so I write. I do talk to people too, but most are so worn down and fed up they don’t want to sustain a political conversation for more than a few minutes. Plus, venting with others about you and the GOP ends up leaving me feeling even more powerless since it’s hardly ever constructive. And so I write to you. As I said, I realize you never read these letters and I know that if a real person does read them it’s just to put them in your simple friend / foe buckets. I realize what I write you is not going to materially affect you or your actions just like the women who wrote letters to their long-dead abusers knew doing so would not change what happened or impact the abuser. What I think they held onto and what I know I hold onto is that by instilling some order on what feels overwhelming and totally messed up by writing about it and facing it, we change ourselves and shift our relationships to the horror such that we are not helpless.

May we be safe to say what needs to be said.
May we be happy to call out abusive behavior with whatever means we have at our disposal.
May we be healthy enough to face the demons we need to face.
May we cultivate peace even as we grapple with abusive realities.

Tracy Simpson

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