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Plymouth, Devon, United Kingdom
West Country author, winner of Piatkus Entice award for historical fiction 2012.

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Monday, September 03, 2012

Personal -- a question.

How are you supposed to feel when you hear your abuser is terminally ill?

This man was physically violent, an emotional bully, a drunk and a paedophile. He spent most of my childhood either administering a riding crop on bare skin, or behaving in ways I’m not prepared to mention here. I’m not saying there weren’t good times, but they were always overshadowed by wondering how long they would last, and how we were going to pay for them later.

This man tried to mow down my mother and me on a country road in the middle of the night: we had to climb the hedge to escape his car.

This man made me walk about 5 miles down those same country roads with him (also in the middle of the night) and the whole way he was telling me how he was going to kill himself at the other end, that there was a gun in his workshop. Made sure I knew he would probably shoot me first, without actually saying the words (kept reminding me how an old friend of his had killed his wife and himself several years before.) He laughed at me when we got there and the gun wasn’t loaded. Ha ha.

There are other things, too numerous, personal (and hideous) to mention, so, without going into any deeper details I’m wondering now, how I’m supposed to feel when I hear he doesn’t have long to live?

Part of me is viciously glad; part of me feels cheated that he’s going to get away with it, that the rest of my family are still in touch and presumably caring and supportive of him. Natural enough, given that he’s my younger brother’s father, but I feel guilty for that little stab of relief that I won’t have to spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder or being afraid to attend family events in case he’s there too.

I know I’m not expected to express regret for his illness, after all I didn’t get so much as a get well card when I was diagnosed with cancer and going through chemotherapy, but I always thought I’d soften a bit towards him if I heard something bad had happened.

I haven’t. Is that wrong?


Anonymous said...

A short answer to your final question. No, it's not at all wrong.


Denise said...

Your feelings are justifiable!

Diana Morrison said...

Enjoy the freedom from him Terri. What goes around comes around and his karma has just caught up with him.

Jane C said...

You are not wrong at all Terri, but the fact that you are wondering if you are, demonstrates that you have compassion and empathy unlike him, which makes you a winner

Anonymous said...

Not at all! I know all those motivational messages that fly around the internet say we should just let all those feelings go and forgive but you know what, some things are just beyond forgiveness especially when the person who perpetrated the act has (I assume) never offered you an apology or addressed why they behaved the way they did. Don't give him a second thought.


Liz said...

I can totally understand how you feel. My mother abused me in different ways, far less severe than anything you described, and her supposed death met me with total apathy. Apathy, but not forgivness. And I wouldn't expect you to feel differently. {{{{{HUGS}}}}

Anonymous said...

This person long ago gave up any right to be part of your life. There is no right/wrong reaction here and he deserves no consideration, its about you - just try not to let him affect you any more. K

Terri Nixon said...

Just want to thank you all for your kind words and support - I do feel a bit easier in my mind, just knowing it doesn't make me black-hearted to feel the way I do.