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Ending Silence
with Tarra Bates-Duford, Ph.D., MFT

A Letter To My Childhood Self: Letting Go of Shame & Guilt

Dear Younger Self,

I wanted to write you this letter because I never truly valued you as a person and as a fighter. For many years, I blamed you for the abuse you suffered in silence, quietly judging you, ashamed of you, condemning you. I attributed your silence for weakness, ignorantly assuming you were powerless instead of powerful. I didn’t realize you struggled with understanding what was happening to you or why it was happening to you. You felt alone, dirty, and insecure, yet you persevered. You continued to carve out a path for yourself in this world even without my support. Every time I told you, you couldn’t do something you did it anyway, proving me wrong. When I told you nothing good would come of you sharing pain from your past, you rebelled, insisting you needed to be heard, you needed survivors to know they weren’t alone.

Sometimes, I wish we could occupy the same space at the same time, the child and the adult. As an adult, I realize I should have done things differently, I should have been there for you, but in my cowardice ran. I should have supported and comforted you, rather than abandoning you when you needed me the most. I would have held you, listened to what you had to say, rather than telling you what to say. I also need to tell you something that I have never said to you before, this was not your fault. If I am going to be completely honest, I never believed you were at fault for what happened to you, it was just easier blaming you instead of the adult.

Unfortunately, I realized I played a significant role in how you felt about yourself. I made you feel that your feelings were secondary to everyone else. I forced you to smile when you didn’t feel like smiling, deny the pain you were in, second guess every decision you ever made, and doubt your self-worth. For all the things I ever said to you that were unkind and hateful, I apologize. I realize without your strength we would not be able to speak our truth. The small pebbles you tossed over the years made an impact on the surrounding waters. The pebbles created ripples that reached other survivors that no longer felt obligated to suffer in silence. I recognize you are stronger than I ever gave you credit for, yet you didn’t need my validation or affirmation to know that you are strong.

If you are comfortable after reading this story to share one of your own, I encourage you to do so. Your story is valuable, it can inspire and provide encouragement to those that are still struggling with abuse in their past.

A Letter To My Childhood Self: Letting Go of Shame & Guilt

Bates-Duford, Ph.D., LMFT

My name is Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford PhD, LMFT, CRS, CMFSW, BCPC I have a PhD in forensic Psychology specializing in familial dysfunctions and traumatic experience. I work with individuals and families struggling with familial dysfunctions, trauma, rape, and incest. I also have a masters in Marriage, Couples, & Family therapy. I am a certified relationship specialist with American Psychotherapy Association (#15221). I have more than 15 years in the field of mental health, relationships, and behavioral sciences.

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APA Reference
Bates-Duford, T. (2020). A Letter To My Childhood Self: Letting Go of Shame & Guilt. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2020, from


Last updated: 14 Jan 2020
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