Letter of Gratitude to a Perpetrator.

Ganesha (1)This was written by a student on retreat, April 2014. I encouraged her to write this after hearing and feeling her story, and it’s one of the most compelling pieces I’ve ever read. Please, take these words to your heart and share with friends for whom this is relevant. Know that this is possible, this transformation of deep pain into lasting peace. -Elena


From L., student.

This letter was born out of a complex and all too common experience of childhood abuse and neglect.  My hope for those who read this letter of gratitude to my childhood perpetrator is that you will be inspired to gather your courage to transform your pain into peace. My vision for life, born out of this childhood experience, is to make the world beautiful. True beauty reveals itself when we embrace our shadow and light with grace. True beauty also reveals itself when we embrace our vulnerability and value rather than our violence and silence.

I was invited to write a letter of gratitude to my childhood perpetrator by Elena on our yoga retreat.  Initially, I hesitated to receive such an invitation as I was concerned about being re-traumatized. However, some small whisper within asked me to soften and listen, indicating to me that I was indeed ready for such a task.  Elena suggested it would not be for him, the perpetrator, but rather to release myself from all energy related to the experience.  I was intrigued and resistant. I had spent the last three years devoted to my healing and was not prepared to unravel myself.  That evening I began to consider her invitation.  I said my prayers, asking Spirit to help me become clear on just what it was that I could be grateful for.

The next morning I awoke with my answer. I then set to work to write the following letter. Once I had finished writing this letter I had an automatic and powerful energetic shift in my being that released me from the deep grip of the traumatic experience. I shared this letter with a small group of people, some friends, many strangers, all dear to me, which was another liberating moment as I used my voice to break the all too common pattern of silence. It was incredible to be heard, validated, and held by a community of witnesses.

May we each find what we need within ourselves to take our next, just-right step inour personal journeys and pursuits of living fully alive.


Thank you for being exactly who you are… a perpetrator. Thank you also for being one of my greatest challenges, teachers, and sources of inspiration. From the eyes of a child, growing up with you was a horrendous hell of fear, pain, suffering, loneliness, rejection, and abandonment. I lived believing I was unwanted, unloved, and unworthy of belonging, love, and connection. I retreated and hid the most natural, precious, authentic, and right part of me deep into a cave when I had the birthright to be free, to explore, to grow, to dance, to become…to just be. I was left feeling never enough and so very confused and disoriented. Too scared to dream, filled with shame and unable to make sense of the dark world. I felt many things: frozen, trapped, hunted, stalked, stuck, caged, almost dead within, a shell of a human, barely able to breathe.

As a result of the years of horror I have discovered the clarity of my convictions, the value of love and kindness, how to listen to and be guided by my intuition. Because of the years of childhood abuse I now know my strength, tenacity and determination. I have learned how to sit with feelings of deep despair and thoughts of death, and rather than succumb to them, to reach instead for heaven, pulling promises of paradise into my heart to give me fire to live another day. I have learned that victory is possible, that demons can be shaken off, and that in suffering there is also overcoming, transformation and, yes indeed, liberation. I have retreated and I have also reemerged. My shame is being redeemed. I am reintroducing myself to my self. I am gathering my medicines for healing and gathering my power through this journey into the dark night of the soul. So thank you, thank you, thank you: for showing me through contrary teachings the way to connect with my inspirations, commitments, obligations, hopes, and passions.

Thank you for leading me to this very moment where I release you to stand in my own truth, light and glory, my own power, beauty and presence, my own worth, sacredness, wellness, goodness and my own breath.

Thank you for leading me to this very moment where I release you to stand in love with my own life…fully alive.

Thank you.

I now know I have a right to be here.

Because of you, my perpetrator, I am clear on this… I dedicate, yes, I devote my life to the children of this world, the little ones within and all around, yours, mine, ours.

To do all I can within my power, ability, and love to serve them.

To be a vigilant, protective, and nurturing adult who supports the flourishing growth of their radiant spirits.

To be one who vows, yes, I vow, to serve the children, the little ones within and all around, yours, mine, ours… with offerings of beauty and grace,

with offerings of respect and deep listening,

with offerings of affirmation and adoration.

I vow to serve the children, the little ones within and all around, yours, mine, ours, with small acts completed in the service of great love.

My heart is filled with my inheritance as a daughter, of the goddess and the great god who created me, yes, my heart is filled with my inheritance, my inheritance, of compassion and joy.

Let suffering cease.

Let compassion reign.

Let joy reign.


These are my convictions, obligations, and responsibilities. This is my contribution, passion, and hope; this is my yes!

From this day forward let me be known as a woman who stands her ground, defends her peace, fights fiercely for innocence, believe in the rightness of life – yours, mine, and ours.

From this day forward let me be known as a woman who radiates healing light, who paints the world in rainbow light, who bears a flag for love, who waves a banner saluting our transformation and yes our liberation, who holds hope for humanity – yours, mine, and ours.

From this day forward let me be known as a woman who stands in the glory of her beauty, so that we may all. Let me be known as a woman who stands in the gap, lives as a bridge, embodies the energy of a champion for the possibility of our greatness. Yes, let us be children, men and women, of greatness, who live in harmony – yours, mine, and ours.

From this day forward let me be known as a woman who embodies the Goddess. Let me be known as a woman who lives by and is ruled by love. A woman who in loving, loves; and who in being loved, loves more.

I welcome love into my life, I welcome love: fully, completely, truly, richly, vibrantly, sensationally, magnificently, and phenomenally into every facet of my being and my living.

Thank you for this sweet and savory blessing.

The curse is broken; the blessing lives!

Yes, it is so, this is truth, this is my truth.

May I live my life this way: liberated. May I live to aim and shoot arrows of truth in the direction of harmony with precision, clarity, and intention. May I help myself, as well as others, connect to their medicine, within. And on my dying day, as I lay my head to rest, releasing my spirit from this earth, may my heart be glad that not only was I born as a child into a life of pain but that I birthed myself from pain into a rich, full life of peace and beauty.


– L.

8 thoughts on “Letter of Gratitude to a Perpetrator.”

  1. Wow. That is truly, truly beautiful. Proof that deep transformation is possible for anyone. Thank you. I am lost for words at the beauty of this.

  2. Christina kouri

    Thank you so much for sharing! Really means a lot to let one witness such a great insirational heart opening life meaning act of embracing all there is. Felt the wind of change and true freedom to Love the Light within! Felt my heart connected and worshiped in a new blissful way. Thank you

  3. I am awash in tears of recognition and gratitude…. Thank you L and Elena for this eloquent heart-offering . Just this week I had a movement towards forgiveness with my perpetrators -as I believe that forgiveness has its own life force and unfolds in its own time within our body vehicle, I have been turning it over again and again. And the gratitude was present and the forgiveness that releases these people was coming up but most of all the realization for myself that I am no longer beholden to them – freedom indeed offers forgiveness. I wrote this poem a few years back after the birth of my third child and at the height of intrusive thoughts of long ago abuse and terrified projections onto my current reality. I am no longer interested in letting my past hold my present prisoner… Our Yoga practice is the key to unlocking our bodies and minds:

    On svadhyaya* and motherhood…

    I will wear this hood – gratefully –
    for a lifetime
    what i was i still am yet now, somehow, more born of My womb you were a Tiny Beloved;
    spark of a deep, abiding, infinite and imperfect Love but Ours you are not
    as Gibran eloquently observes
    you were (indeed) born of “life’s longing for Itself”
    And in your pure reflection, when I choose to witness,
    I grow and delve into my Self-
    sometimes darker
    recesses of love and fear
    joy and anger.
    ** I have only begun to touch Source.**

    You challenge me, you insist – like any good Guru- that i Show Up
    with complete presence
    and find a comfortable seat for the ride
    for when I don’t (and I often won’t)
    you have perfected your effective methods
    to call my attention and strengthen my efforts

    and I will falter
    and i will ask your forgiveness,
    and again…
    hopeful that the next time not the same missed mark,
    for perhaps I have learned this time
    and i will see my own wounds
    and i will be given the chance,
    over and over again
    to apply the salve of divine mercy and compassion
    to my own wounded heart
    so that i do not repeat and inflict those deep cuts
    with anger
    with words
    with touch
    that have become my sam(scar)as and my (his)stories
    for you were born with this One Precious Human Life
    with Suffering all your Own,
    may i ease your load
    may i add to your joy
    and may i see the world through your wonder.

    * Sutra 2.1

    Tapah svadhyayesvara pranidhanani kriya yogah

    Accepting pain as help for purification, study of spiritual books, and surrender to the Supreme Being constitute Yoga in practice.

  4. Give thanks! The Spirit is alive and well among us. L- Thank you for such bravery and conviction to stay with your journey to this new horizon, and for your clarity and open-heartedness in sharing. I am renewed in reading and letting your words sink into my heart. Yours is a potent medicine. I’m cheering you on as you bring it forward in the world, and I strive to do the same. One Love!

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