Dear mother of kidnapped Nigerian girl,
The truth is, I don't know what to say to you. I have no words that can fix, change, or make light of your situation.
It will not be okay.
This, too, shall not pass.
Everything does not happen for a reason.
The above are cliches that people employ during difficult times. I've always hated them. And I can't imagine that you feel any differently.
Because even if, God willing, you get your girl home, she will not be okay. She will have suffered physical and emotional abuse that no amount of therapy can remedy.
This horrific experience will have such an impact on her, that it will never fully pass or erase itself from her life. She will have night terrors, she will hate men, she will be gripped with fear for her own children.
The reasons why this terrible act happened to your daughter and your family are beyond me. To say "the world is a cruel place" is the understatement of the year.
I'm sorry that this letter is not happier, more hopeful. I've been sharing your story, but beyond that, hopeless is how I feel. And yet, with your story (finally) attracting attention, I gain a little hope every day. So I guess what I have to offer you is hope and empathy.
When you are feeling angry, I am angry with you. That your government (and the rest of the world) was so slow to react is maddening.
When you are in despair, I am desperate with you. I imagine my own child being taken from me to be sold and abused, and I feel sick to my stomach.
When you are hopeful, I hope with you. My gut is telling me that they will not find all the girls, but that they will find your daughter.
And when that happens, I think your job as a mother will take on a whole new meaning. You will never have mothered "this" daughter before. She will be changed and jaded in ways you cannot imagine. And so will you.
My one piece of unsolicited advice is to read everything you can on how to help victims of sexual assault cope. To talk to others who have been there. To prepare your family and your daughter to deal with the aftermath of this awful experience. To have open ears and an open heart for all that she has to share. And to realize that there is a great deal she probably never will share.
Mother: in the end, I have little to offer you besides empathy, some weak advice, and hope. Hope is the strongest of these three. However insignificant, please know that the world is hoping right along with you.
Social Butterfly Mom
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