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Confrontation Experiences? - Incest Survivors' Support

Oct. 18th, 2007

01:28 pm - Confrontation Experiences?

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 Hi ... I'm a female adult survivor of childhood incest; my abuser was my sister.  I've written a letter of confrontation, but I haven't gotten up the nerve to send it. 

Type your cut contents here.
Dear Sister,
 
Please consider this my letter of emancipation from your familial position of authority. If you prefer, you may consider it my formal declaration that I no longer acknowledge more than a biological relationship between us. In truth, the only other relationship we’ve had up to this point has been that of abuser / victim and, thanks to a good deal of talk therapy, time and medication, I’ve learned to stand up for myself and say enough. The abuse stops here. I will no longer extend you opportunities to inflict anguish. 
 
With this letter, I openly avert all communication from you and visitation with you. This announcement may seem superfluous, since we’ve only had minimal contact with one another since Mom died anyway, but it is important to me and to my journey of healing.
 
You see, I have finally been able to confront my past; especially those parts that I’d avoided putting words to. After all, incest is such an ugly word, n’est pas? It’s no wonder I didn’t want to deal with it while Mom was alive. But that is the crime you committed against me. Those are the black memories I could never forget, but which I refused to name, choosing instead to run as far and as fast away from you as I could get. To try to BE as different from you as I could, given the inescapable similarities of our genetics. But until I could confront my darkest memories, sheer distance alone was never enough. I was bound to you as surely as any victim of Stockholm’s Syndrome ever was to his / her captors. 
 
You’ve proven yourself to be a liar and a cheat and a bully, repeatedly, over the course of my lifetime and I’ve allowed myself to be perennially re-victimized while our mother still lived because of some misguided notion of family unity. Even after it stopped being an active issue with Mom, to “play nice” with you, I still worked hard to forgive every new offense you committed against me; telling myself you didn’t mean whatever you said / did to be as insensitive and hurtful as it was. 
 
Like the abused wife of an alcoholic, I made excuses for your cruelty – enabling you to continue your pattern of abuse, just as surely as those who “love without limits” enable any other domestic abuser. 
 
After Mom’s death, however, I experienced a PTSD incident which, in turn, finally allowed me to put words to my most painful memories … and that’s when my true healing began. Talking with other incest survivors helped me to understand that the only thing you ever really loved and appreciated about me was the way I rolled over so you could hurt me yet again. You could make up any story (no matter how unbelievable) and I, because my concept of love had been so warped by years of your systematic torment, I believed you because I wanted to! I wanted to believe that this time you were telling the truth. I believed in the myth of your love for me even though your every action indicated otherwise (screamed your disrespect and hatred of me, in fact!). 
 
I see now that you were playing Lucy (holding the football) to my sweet, naive Charlie Brown. Time and time again, you were able to talk me into believing you because of my love for you; and time and again, you abused my trust out of your hatred and contempt for me.
 
When finally I realized that (in fact) you do hate me, I admit I was actually relieved. Relieved, because it made more sense for someone who hates me to harm me than for someone who professed love for me to terrorize me! And that’s precisely what I told my therapist … that acknowledging your hatred of me was a huge relief. I still don’t know why you hate me, but thanks to talk therapy I’ve put it into historical perspective and given it back to you: it’s your problem, not mine. 
 
My therapist also wanted me to mourn the loss of my “ideal” sister and at first I didn’t know what he expected. Your ongoing torment of me, veiled in the verbiage of love, was the only sibling bond I had ever known. How was I to mourn something I had never had? So I started with polar opposites … for my ideal, I wanted someone as different from you as possible … someone who was strong and protective, not weak and oppressive. Someone who would take glory in my successes without feeling threatened by them. Someone who would help me celebrate, not someone who would humiliate me during a time of celebration. Someone who would offer advice when I needed it (and/or asked for it) to help me succeed, not someone who preyed upon me in times of weakness. Someone who would’ve wanted to be by my side during the best (and the worst) of times – but never to divert accolades for themselves (or to gloat at my misfortune). Someone who respected me and my boundaries, not someone who used me shamelessly. Someone in whom I could place my trust, not someone who betrayed my every confidence. Someone whose idea of love for me did not always include a sexual element, twisted and perverted by the abuse of familial power and authority.
 
And as I wrote this exercise of defining what my ideal sibling would be, I realized two things: (1) although I was effectively an “only child” throughout my childhood (2) I’ve been provided with many friends who’ve acted as siblings (sisters and brothers) the rest of my life. Frankly, it’s been a very long time since I “needed” you as an older sibling because there were so many people willing to take your place, and who’ve done a better job of loving me than you ever did!
 
Every negative image you impressed on me as proof of my defectiveness has proven false when tested in the world outside of our family: my bookishness, my physique, my hairstyle, my clothing, my interests, my choices, my sense of humor, my candor – none of my so-called failings have stood in my way of finding employment, happiness, true love, and true friendships. Going east for my 25th college reunion, getting to see friends with whom I’ve stayed in touch over the years (and the miles), and even reconnecting with people I barely knew then, but whose lives affected me profoundly – all this served to cement a vision of myself at odds with the portrait you painted of me.
 
I suppose I could laundry list all the things you’ve ever done to hurt me … but what would be the point? Item by item, they too are mere anecdotes in my history now. Based on our past conversations about what we remember from our childhood (when I actually admitted to you that the only abuse I remembered was at your hands), it’s highly probable that you won’t remember the same things that I do, anyway. 
 
When I did share with you two of the less hideous memories, memories that were (even then) safe enough for me to put into words, you claimed to be horrified, claimed ignorance, and you became highly agitated, distraught. I ended up comforting you, assuring you that I had forgiven you. Afterwards, I felt dirty and used, without quite knowing why. In therapy, I learned that it is always inappropriate for me (as your victim) to provide you with any sort of comfort or help because of the authority / power imbalance inherent in our incestuous relationship; it only serves to further my own abuse. 
 
This realization was a watershed moment for me because you’ve been hounding me for years to recognize and validate your alleged abuse. But because you perpetuated the cycle of abuse by molesting me, you forfeited any acknowledgement or validation I might have (otherwise) been able to offer you. You had the choice of whether to perpetuate the abuse or to let it stop with you. It was your choice to make, no one else’s. 
 
If you need help with your issues, it cannot come from me. 
 
When I sat down to finally compose this letter, I realized I have nothing to lose by writing and sending it, and everything to gain. You have nothing I want and nothing I need. Truly, you never did. A healthy, loving sibling bond was the only thing I ever wanted from you, and even though I’ve never known you to possess the qualities I desired in a sibling, there was a time when I still believed it was possible for us to develop a healthy sibling relationship as adults. 
 
Unfortunately, I’ve come to accept that you only get close to me when there is something tangible for you to gain by exploiting our closeness. A predictable aspect of your predatory behavior. It grieved me to acknowledge the conditional nature of your dealings with me, but not for as long as I thought it would. Accepting even an unpleasant reality gets easier with practice.
 
I acknowledge I have no control over the past, but here in the present, I can effect change for the future. I can take control over communication with you on my terms, by ending it here and now, instead of waiting for you to contact me out of your need, and trying to deal with you in a reactionary fashion (as I always have) on your terms. Therefore, I will no longer accept your phone calls or your emails. Your snail mail will be returned to you unopened. I will make no efforts (direct or indirect) to stay in touch with you. I do not wish to be near you physically, although – since I no longer fear you – if circumstances dictate that we be in the same place at the same time, I will not change my plans to avoid you.
 
But the healthiest aspect about my journey of healing was the realization that I don’t care what your reaction to this letter will be. I’ve accepted that you may still be living in denial, telling yourself that I’ve misremembered or misinterpreted all the things you did to me … that they were somehow in my best interests. I understand … that’s what all pedophiles do. The fact that you are only 3½ older than your victim and/or were a victim yourself changes nothing. Being female and biologically related to your victim only makes your choices more reprehensible. Ultimately, I hold you and you alone personally responsible for all the abuse (sexual, mental and emotional) you heaped on me, from our childhood right up until the present time. 
 
Your Sister in DNA Only,
 

... I'd like to hear from other people about how and if they've confronted their abusers, and what they got out of it (if they confronted), or why they chose not to (if they haven't) ... I'd like to know whether you chose to confront face to face or by letter, and what influenced you in your choice ... I'd also love to hear how other people in your family reacted (if they know) and who have been your biggest supporters (if anyone) ... 

As much as I want to send the letter, I'm afraid I'll incite more emotional abuse than she is already capable of ... and I admit to everyone here that (even tho I claim not to be afraid of her), I part of me still is ... *sigh*

Thanks (in advance) for your input and your support ...

Current Mood: depresseddepressed

Comments:

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From:apple_scruff
Date:October 18th, 2007 07:17 pm (UTC)
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First, can I say, I've never come across anyone else who was a female abused by their sister. I feel a lot like you do about the relationship of a sibling. We sort of had that, but it was so tarnished by what she did. Would it be too forward to offer e-hugs?

I sent my sister a letter a few years ago and I got nothing out of it. I didn't believe her apology (even if she really did mean it) and I'm still trying to, I suppose, forgive her. I want to be the bigger person, but how do you forgive someone who's made most of your life miserable? It's just so hard.

I told my mother. She was very upset about it when I told her, but that's the last we ever really spoke about it. She pretty much avoids the topic which doesn't help me. I also told a few of my online friends a few of them were very supportive about it which did help a little. I still have a long way to go in the healing process, though. Sadly, I don't have any "big supporters" and that's all I really want. Just one person to understand and not be afraid of it.

Send your letter. Send it while you still have idea to. I know it's scary, but you really need to do it to for yourself. I don't think you can truly move on if you don't send it. Good luck!
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From:radiant_roasted
Date:October 19th, 2007 03:31 pm (UTC)

Wow ... !!

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You are ALSO the first person I've ever "met" who was abused by her sister! I gladly accept your ehug, and return it to you in kind ! ... frankly I'm more comfortable with ehugs ... :-)

I have so many questions for you, I don't know where to start!!

Approximately how old are you, and what part of the world are you in? Did you have any other siblings or was it just you & her? What about your dad? How close does she live to you and how often do you have to see her? How long have you been actively healing?

I've learned alot from talking with other survivors, but their emotional issues are usually different (I think because their abusers were male and usually significantly older) than mine ...

I will gladly be your supporter, if you'll be mine! If you would be interested in less public contact, I have a MySpace account under the name of Hermeneutician (you might want to cut & paste that into the search engine) ... My account is set to private, so you won't be able to see much until you add me as a friend (and I do the same, of course) ... but if you send me a message under your Apple Scruff name, I'll add you right away ...

I'm very excited, and very nervous, to make your acquaintance ... and I'm willing to answer any questions you might have of me, too -- either here in thesmilingmasks forum or on MySpace ... I, too, am tired of being afraid of talking about it ...

PS ... I still haven't sent the letter, but based on the feedback I've received, and my own reflections (writing the pros & cons, and such) it's looking more and more likely that I will
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From:apple_scruff
Date:October 19th, 2007 05:10 pm (UTC)

Re: Wow ... !!

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I'm sending you a MySpace message right now with answers to your questions!
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From:velvetjademuse
Date:October 19th, 2007 01:02 pm (UTC)
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My abuser was my paternal unit, and I confronted him when my daughter was small. I guess my way of confrontation was more of a threat. I let him know on no uncertain terms that if he laid one finger on my daughter I'd have him arrested, and I would seriously have to restrain myself from killing or permanently maiming him. I did this verbally when she and I moved back to my hometown. I don't know that the confrontation let me feel any sort of relief. It wasn't exactly what I expected. But, I made my position very clear, I set up boundaries, and that is enough for me at this time of my life.

Good luck with your letter & know you have a lot of cyber sisters pulling for you who know the true meaning of sisterhood.
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From:radiant_roasted
Date:October 19th, 2007 03:38 pm (UTC)

Setting up boundaries ...

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I like that ...

It's one of my biggest problems with my sister. She has this affect on me that, when I hear the sound of her voice, I regress to being her little plaything again. It's my main reason for wanting to cut off all contact with her. I don't trust myself not to leave myself open to getting (emotionally) abused by her again (and again).

I admire you, threatening him. Does anyone else in your family know that you confronted him, or has it remained strictly between the two of you?
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From:composed_chaos
Date:November 2nd, 2007 08:04 am (UTC)
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Wow.. I don't know if I could ever write a letter like that. That was really excellent.

I can't remember if I've ever written a letter to my brother. I don't think so, but I might have. I have written a letter to my mother, who was/is emotionally abusive, but I have never and would never send it. I love my mother dearly (even though I do not think I like her very much, overall..) and have no desire to cause her any pain. Nor do I wish to deal with the aftermath, frankly.

I do recall the s't hitting the proverbial fan shortly after my son was born, and that's when I sought therapy (having a boy first really screwed me over, mentally, and resulted in me not having any other children, but that's another topic) and also when I accidentally told my parents, and (not accidentally) had a phone conversation with my brother about it.

I don't think I handled the whole thing very well... i don't remember exactly what all happened, but I believe I ended up telling him it was fine, all is forgiven. That was my way of saying to everyone "I am SO sorry I let this information out! Please can't we all just forget it? Can't -I- please forget it? I would really rather go back to pretending..." but that wasn't to be. :/

I have had face to face confrontations with my brother since... once, at my parent's house, when I was back home for a funeral... his attitude is "get over it"... everyone's attitude is "get over it", actually.

I don't really have any big supporters... my husband is supportive, I guess, but he doesn't really know what to do, so he doesn't really do anything. But, he believes me, and is compassionate, and is understanding and all that... but .. yeah. that's about it.

I don't know if any of that is helpful. I just joined tonight, so I'm still in a bit of a headspin at suddenly deciding to join such a community. Did you feel like that at all when you joined?

Anyway.. again, your letter is great.
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From:radiant_roasted
Date:November 2nd, 2007 08:28 pm (UTC)
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Nice to meet you, and I wish neither of us had to be here! ;-)

I belong to two survivor communities, smilingmasks and siastepstudy, and the hardest part has been using the "i" word in reference to myself. ESPECIALLY when writing it out. I had to keep repeating it in my head for a month until I could say it (out loud) to my husband.

I'm 47, and I've been living in the land of denial for most of those years. It's been a year since I had a PTSD incident that threw my life upside down and put all my problems into painfully sharp focus ... Everything made sense (all of a sudden) but I still don't like dealing with the facts ... It seems the more I talk/write about it, the better able I am to accept it ...

I found it interesting that having a boy-child first was traumatic for you, because I went through my own trauma when a girl-child popped out of me! The gender of our perpetrator definitely makes a difference ...

Through both groups, I've been able to learn alot ... But mainly: I/We are not alone. Sadly, there are all too many of us. None of us likes to talk about it, from the perspective of the grief our families give us, but talking to one another, to people just like us, who really understand (for a change!) is almost exhilirating for me. Definitely makes me feel less crazy.

Like you, my LJ site is a secondary place of journaling ... My primary journal is a traditional paper-journal. Occasionally I post something in my diary on MySpace, but because I have family as "friends" I keep those posts private or limited to other survivors ... If you want to visit me on MySpace, my screenname is Hermeneutician, and because my profile is set to private, you'd have to become my friend to see the rest of it ... Just mention smilingmasks, and I'll accept your invitation immediately.

Again, welcome ... And let the healing commence!
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From:composed_chaos
Date:November 2nd, 2007 09:50 pm (UTC)
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What is siastepstudy?

The reason having a boy first was traumatic was because I was very concerned that I might view my own child with suspicion. That would be a horrible thing to lay on a child... "you're not abusing your sister are you?" Ugh. That would be horrible.

I don't use Myspace, but I have added you to my personal flist here, if you like.

Btw, have you sent the letter? I don't know if I will ever be able to write something like that. I don't think any of them really care.
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From:radiant_roasted
Date:November 2nd, 2007 10:14 pm (UTC)
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SIA stands for Survivors of Incest Anonymous, and the stepstudy part (I'm pretty sure) refers to the 10 steps, similiar to AA or any other 10 step program ... I'm not much of a 10-stepper (I tend to do crazy, non-linear, dance steps in my recovery) but I really like the posts there ...

And yes, thanks to the support of a friend I met here on smilingmasks, my dad, and my husband, I went ahead and sent it ... My sister promptly went thermonuclear, telling her kids & husband, and calling our father to protest my horrible accusations (and to send him web sites, based on her "research")<--(I have no idea what that means) ... Oddly, none of her kids have dropped me as their "friend" on MySpace (yet), and she doesn't seem to've called our aunt or cousins (again: yet) ...

I've been shaking in my boots, just from the not-knowing of what's going on ... Like you, I want to take it all back, and make it all go away ... but that's not really an option any longer. Never was, since the PTSD, really ... My only regret is that I took so long to get to this point, but my therapist says the subconscious is very self-protective, and wouldn't let me deal with it before I was ready ... So, I guess I'm a realllllly late bloomer!

My trauma with giving birth to a girl-child was that I was terrified to change her diaper for fear of touching her "wrong" ... She was so helpless and dependent ... It turned out that I became fiercely protective and almost ridiculously respectful of her ... and her sister ... and their two brothers! Caring for them, and seeing their innocence (and ensuring they stayed as innocent as possible for as long as possible, without going overboard) turned out to be very healing for me ... I learned that they were how kids are supposed to behave ... Versus me, who was molested before I can even remember ... my first memories were sexual and I thought that's how everyone was, and everyone else in the world was just lying about being sexual ... Oy, the stuff I've had to relearn!

What's an flist, and how does it work? And, is it better for me to post on your page or here on smilingmasks?
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From:composed_chaos
Date:November 2nd, 2007 10:26 pm (UTC)
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Flist = Friends List, and you can reply wherever. :) Here is fine, there is fine, wherever you happen to be if/when you feel like replying. :)

I've never come even close to doing any 10-step sort of process. Like you, I don't know that I would like to be told exactly which step I should do next. I just kind of jump and land wherever I happen to land. :) I might check out that group, though. Currently I've asked to join _survivors_ but I haven't heard back yet. I like to be in groups that have activity in them... like preferring to talk in a bar where lots of people are talking, rather than in a library where you feel like you need to whisper. :)

My favorite community is called robed_embrace and is the community run by logospilgrim, a very spiritual woman that brings a sense of calm and peace that is incredibly therapeutic. Worth checking out the userinfo pages, at the very least. :)

So your dad is supportive? Does he still interact with your sister? The whole family dynamic for me is very confusing now. Nobody really knows how to support anyone, so they all just try to pretend nothing is wrong. shrug

What type of "research" did your sister do? Is she trying to pull that "false memory" stuff? Nobody has said that to me, thank heavens, or I might go ballistic. No, they just like to pretend that it's nothing serious, yet my mother specifically said she doesn't know what happened, "and doesn't want to know." Yeah, she actually said that. Whatever.
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From:radiant_roasted
Date:November 2nd, 2007 11:04 pm (UTC)
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Wow ... nice mom (not) ... Yeah, my dad is weird--I blame/credit him with finally confronting the "i" issue(generally) and my sister(specifically)...

My parents were divorced from my infancy (which--at least in my mind--explains why/how my sister had so much access to me. With 4 years difference in our ages, and Mom having to work full-time to support us (and her mom not watching us as closely as a parent might) my sister got to play twisted 'little mother' alot ...

I met my dad for the first time when I was 15. He said he knew right then things were bad. He'd suspected it from phone conversations and comments that were made, but when he saw me & my sister together, he knew (although he didn't know about the sexual aspect) that she was abusing & controlling me. But back in the day, there was no such thing as joint custody, and he had zero rights (not to mention he'd never paid child support due to his own problems), so he had to go back to CA and hope for the best ...

The good part is that I was able to leave home under fairy-tale circumstances that same fall: I won a full scholarship to a private/prep school in CT (I was living in OH at the time). From there, I only went home for holidays (yes, I had to relearn how to like them with my husband & kids) ... then I was off to college, and never lived closer than three states away!

The bad part is that (because I was still denying there was anything wrong with my family, let alone between me & my sister) I continued to allow her to abuse me emotionally ... One of the more recent examples was over the weekend when we buried our youngest child ... It was post-9/11, so my elderly, disabled mother didn't feel comfortable flying from OH to TX ... But she desparately wanted someone to represent "our" side of the family, so she paid for my sister (and her daughter) to attend in her place ...

During a breakdown, where I'd ruined a meal (that, under normal circumstances, I could make in my sleep), and my husband was trying to comfort me, my sister said (and I kid you not), "I don't see what the big deal is ... It's not like anybody died." AND, when we both turned to stare (speechless) at her, she continued, "oh, I guess that wasn't a very PC thing to say ... under the circumstances."

She's a piece of work, I tell you ...

And maybe you're right ... maybe she IS trying to claim my memories are false. That my therapist somehow implanted them. But the PTSD incident came first, and a trip back to the therapist (who had already helped me with the loss of first my son, and then, just 15 months later, my mom) came later! No, the memories were always there ... I just kept telling myself they didn't "mean" anything.

That was working pretty well for me, except for the dreams. Horrific, sexual, abusive dreams. They were so bad that I went to our priest and asked if I needed to confess my dream behavior. He responded that no, dreams are just the subconscious' way of taking out the day's trash, and "meant nothing" ... but THAT got me to thinking ... I've had these dreams for as long as I've been dreaming ... What sort of cesspool am I hording down deep in my subconscious that never gets completely "taken out"????? My PTSD incident happened a few months later ... and a part of my brain rejoiced that the trash had finally been picked up for good ... Yup, no dreams since! Pretty definitive, if you ask me.

I might check out those other groups, but I don't know about the time ... I've got three kids in three different schools this year, and I'm usually going in about seven different directions! :-) But, like you, I like places where there's activity (altho I've never been much for physical crowding ... I still need loads of "personal space") ... In fact, I need to leave the computer (it's soooo adddictive some days) and make dinner or my family will starve itself to death ... Except for my oldest, everyone trusts me to make food (at some point) and call it dinner!

Good talking to you!

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From:fred_girl
Date:November 8th, 2007 08:25 pm (UTC)
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It's so amazing that you're getting out that and voicing this to your sister [on paper or out loud]. I wish this was something we could all do. The best of luck with it.
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From:edwardblackoff
Date:December 18th, 2007 12:10 am (UTC)

A daring and compassionate new documentary on Incest...

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Hello Radient, i wanted to invite you to watch the trailer for my my new film - INCEST - A FAMILY TRAGEDY that I produced to help expose, examine, and stop this terrible violation which is rampant in our society. I am working to get my movie out to the people who can benefit by watching it...

I hope this film can help you.

thank you, Edward Blackoff

http://www.myspace.com/incestafamilytragedy
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From:radiant_roasted
Date:December 18th, 2007 09:08 pm (UTC)

Re: A daring and compassionate new documentary on Incest...

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Okay ... I watched the video, and I'm intrigued ... but what's your interest in incest? Are you a survivor, too?
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From:composed_chaos
Date:December 18th, 2007 09:11 pm (UTC)

Re: A daring and compassionate new documentary on Incest...

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*would like an answer to that too*
*hugs RR and goes back into the shadows, feeling extremely uncomfortable.*
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From:radiant_roasted
Date:December 18th, 2007 09:15 pm (UTC)

Re: A daring and compassionate new documentary on Incest...

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Good to see you, CC ... I haven't logged into LJ for awhile ... I've been meaning to repond to alot of posts, but ... what can I say? Sometimes life gets in the way!
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From:composed_chaos
Date:December 18th, 2007 09:17 pm (UTC)

Re: A daring and compassionate new documentary on Incest...

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It's ok hun, I totally understand. I hope you're having a good holiday, and I'm always here whenever you wander back here. *warm hugs*
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From:composed_chaos
Date:December 18th, 2007 09:14 pm (UTC)

Re: A daring and compassionate new documentary on Incest...

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i don't want to watch it. what's it about? i don't like people throwing that word around like it's nothing.

You've made me extremely uncomfortable, Edward Blackoff. For whatever that matters.
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