My friend Paula said her husband asked, “Are you honoring your mother or protecting your abuser?”
In my writings I refer to my first abuser as a female relative—which is true. I’ve not identified her even though she’s now dead. I’ve held back because she has still-living children and grandchildren. I also learned that she, herself, was a survivor of sexual abuse.
I chose not to state her relationship to me—not to protect her and certainly not to honor her. My reason was to avoid tainting her memory in the minds of her children and grandchildren.
Was I right? She died before I faced my childhood and I never had to face whether to confront her. But I’ve chosen to protect her memory in their lives.
More than that, I realized my not revealing her relationship means I’ve forgiven her. That’s what’s important. Even so, occasionally I ask the question: “Are you honoring or protecting your abuser?” I’m learning to say, “It’s neither. I don’t want to destroy others’ faith in her.”
How would you answer the question?