Dear Denise,

I understand how trapped, lonely, and sad you feel right now.  Being ten years old is hard enough without the added burden of an abusive home.

Dad is a mean and angry man.  He takes it out on anyone he can overpower, and many times that ends up being you.  This isn’t your fault -it’s not because of anything you’ve done, or not done.   I know how hard you try to do the right things so he’ll say nice things to you.  I know how much it would mean to you for him to say he’s sorry for the awful things he’s done. He is supposed to take care of you, not hurt you.

Mom doesn’t protect you because she’s busy surviving him in her own way.  Unfortunately, that means she can’t let herself see what’s happening to you.  She uses the wine to escape into her fun, happy world.  It makes things easier for her, but harder for you.  I know one day you will be angry with her about this, but then you’ll begin to understand it better and you’ll find a way to forgive her for it.   It won’t erase the pain, but it will make the anger go away.

You might find this hard to believe right now, but you are strong enough to escape the abuse.  One day you’ll get away; dad will try very hard to keep you trapped, but you’re stronger than he expects.  There will be much pain involved, but it will be a different kind of pain than what you are going through now.

By leaving, you won’t only be protecting yourself, you’ll be protecting two beautiful and precious kids of your own.  You will defend and shield them from dad even when your kids don’t understand why.  You will give them a chance at normal.  Incredibly, your kids will teach you more about love, life, forgiveness, joy and grace than you could imagine.  You’ll be amazed at how much you will love them and will sometimes stay awake at night thanking God for them.

You will marry a very special man who will stick by you even when he’s at his wit’s end not understanding all the torment, terror, and nightmares you’ll relive while recovering.  He will choose to grow in his own ways and it will help you have a stronger marriage.  You will be grateful to him for being a good dad to your kids and for supporting your recovery.

There will be important people in your life over the years.  Many of them will move away after a short time living nearby, but they will provide stepping stones of havens until you can escape on your own.  You’ll make special friends who will become a big part of your journey.  In your dysfunction, you will hurt some, and some will hurt you, causing you to be afraid to open up to new friendships.  But once you do, you’ll find the most amazing gift of genuine and healing friendship.  One friend in particular will help you learn that despite misunderstandings and disagreements, if you talk it out in truth and vulnerability, you will grow closer.

Denise, you do have some difficult years ahead of you, but once you go through a fire and emerge on the other side, you will be a new person, re-defined and more passionate than ever.  I should warn you that sometimes there are small fires and sometimes there are bigger ones.  It will always be hard going through the fire, but you’ll grow stronger and more resilient each time.

One day you’ll decide to share your story; at first with just a few people, and then with many.  Initially, you’ll be afraid to share, because you were threatened not to talk.  But, you’ll find out telling the truth is healing.   You will be so surprised when people start telling you that by sharing your pain, it helps them face their own.  It will become a life mission – to keep healing and helping others discover they can heal and be transformed, too.

When you get discouraged, please remember, God has called you to do this.  He will give you strength and courage when you don’t have it yourself.  He will never cease to amaze you with the power of healing and forgiveness. When you want to give up is the very time you will grow the most.

You will make it; of this I’m sure.