by Gabe Berman – the author of Live Like a Fruit Fly

A Letter To The Pedophile Next Door

(This blog post was written by bestselling author Rachel Thompson)

Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it? That’s what it is to be a slave ~ Roy Batty, Blade Runner

When my very good friend, author Gabe Berman, suggested I write this letter a while ago, I shrunk away and said no, not gonna happen.

But with my upcoming release, Broken Pieces, where I lay my soul bare to readers, I decided: it’s finally time.


I was eleven. Still a child. I collected Raggedy Ann dolls, loved gymnastics, and had just started to love writing.

I was eleven when you, the next-door neighbor to the left, extremely tall (at least six foot six) and big (over two-hundred something), set your sights on me.

After the first time, my world imploded. Everything I knew to be right about grownups as good and true traveled through my tainted blood, immediately making me feel like I didn’t belong in a sane, normal world where people ate, drank, and slept. Where adults were either my teachers or parents, not men who invaded my body.

The cycle of becoming an adult quickly sped up; without my permission, I was no longer a child. My life of innocence and trust ended, without any action on my part.
You gave the neighborhood kids scooter rides. It was fun. The parents figured their kids were safe since you were a responsible adult. Nobody else took that time with us. Parents mostly just wanted us out of their hair.

You took me to a secluded wooded area. You had a gun. I was eleven.

I told nobody, but I couldn’t get through the day without crying, obsessed with the fear you would get to me again.

Which you did. Two or three more times.

I remember holding my then one-year-old baby sister, in my Raggedy Ann pajamas, and thinking I’d do anything to protect her from this shaming experience. I was not only a slave to fear, but to my every day existence.

I wanted nothing more than to roll into a tiny ball and hide under my bed. I would have done anything. Except tell. Because you had a gun. You were in the army. I knew you knew how to use it.

Eventually, it all came out. As one of the older children you molested, I could give a voice to what you did. There were trials. Yes, plural: a civil trial and then a military trial. It was as difficult as you would imagine it to be.

I remember what I wore the day the military car showed up in front of our house: black, boatneck, happy stripes. I was terrified, as if I had done something wrong. My life became too much of the unfamiliar. I remember having to sit in a courtroom and swear to tell the truth on a bible, just like on TV. I remember going with my grandmother. My parents didn’t want to hear.

I told a room full of adults how and what and where and when. They wanted to hear in great detail what you did. To me. To those tiny little girls.

You got a few years in jail. You were court-martialed and lost your pension. Your wife descended into mental illness. Your kids and I avoided being in the same areas at school, knowing we had this unspeakable secret people just couldn’t comprehend. That we, none of us, could comprehend. We were now bonded in a way that made no sense, members of a club nobody wants to ever be a part of.

I still felt ashamed.

My folks did the best they could. To this day, we don’t talk about it. My mom has asked me exactly what happened but I don’t see the need to go into the sordid details of your actions. I’ve been in therapy for a while and my shrink is very pragmatic – will it help to discuss the specifics? No. So, we don’t.
We do discuss the far-reaching affects the experience has had on me. It was only when my daughter was born thirteen years ago and I had to leave her with a sitter on my return to work that my world imploded – again. Though I couldn’t verbalize it, I was terrified of leaving her alone.

Because of what you did; not just to me but to those precious, tiny little girls. Girls not much older than my own baby sister.

I do talk about the fact that it happened, not only because you’ve made it part of who I am now, but also because it can happen to anybody’s children. Sure, times are different now and parents are more protective, yet we hear my story every day.

I don’t live in fear, but I am very cautious about the people who are around my kids. Just one of your many gifts to me.

You died when I was in my late twenties. When my mom told me, I felt nothing. No happiness, no fear, nothing. Perhaps thankful, that you were finally gone from this earth and could never hurt another child.

Thankful you were now, simply, just…dust.

(This blog post was written by bestselling author Rachel Thompson)

Buy Rachel’s book Broken Pieces


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76 thoughts on “A Letter To The Pedophile Next Door

  1. I just can’t comprehend the people who do these things. It makes me want to cry – OK, I’m pregant, the hormones are contributing, but you know what I mean. And I worry, for the future, for my little girl, for the unborn baby whose gender I don’t even yet know….

    • Having been through it, I still can’t comprehend it all. Having those strong motherhood instincts is what’s going to save your children from this. Not that I blame my mom or dad — but I was clearly messed up and they didn’t see it (or maybe they did and didn’t know what to do — I can’t remember).

      How can a child put a voice to such a thing?

  2. Powerful, Rachel. I understand very well.

  3. I am crying for you Rachel, and all the other children who are punished, haunted and affected by another person’s actions. I have not been a victim of this, but I have kids, and I know there is a risk they could be molested one day. I also know, because of the statistics, that one, or some, of my kids’ friends are going through this or will go through it. Thank you for being brave, being eloquent, and standing up to talk about what’s important. If you stop just one child going through this you have succeeded. Power comes from speaking about that which we don’t want to. The more the words are spoken, the easier it will be for the next person to speak, until the flood of words become a flood of action against such atrocities. You have my respect, my love and my appreciation. Thank you for being you.

    • aw, thank you sweet Dionne. It is important to talk about — not that I’m the poster child for recovery — back then it was all pretty much ignored. But I do believe that what we experience as children shape us in ways we’ll never really comprehend.

      Hugs to you for being the strong mother you are. xo

  4. You are strong. You are beautiful. You are powerful. You are brave. You are wise. Hold your head high, My friend. Much, much love. XxX

  5. Thank you, dear Gabe, for being my rock in this little adventure. xo

  6. Very powerful, Rachel. Thank you for having the courage.

  7. When an uncle found out what was being done to me he tried to whip the faggot out of me with his heavy leather belt, I was 6, my molester was 17…and I am very glad to hear your story…not because of what happened, rather that you survived.


  8. benditty on said:

    I clicked “like” on this because I admire your courage and your message. It baffles me comprehending such evil.

  9. justinbog on said:

    Your struggles tear me up inside — a lost time in childhood — you went through so much and I only wish you well. Healing and love to you always, Rachel.

  10. This is a courageous and heartbreaking post, Rachel. No one ever thinks this could happen to them or their children, but after working in the field of children’s mental health for eight years, I know only too well that it happens more often than people think. Some say the world has gotten “sicker,” but the fact is, reporting of this kind of abuse has just increased in recent years, bringing this topic into the public arena. Many instances still go unreported. You’re a brave woman not only for sharing your story, but having the strength as a child to testify against your attacker. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you, Raine. I appreciate you sharing your experiences working with children. I wish I’d had that back then but obviously people looked at therapy different in the mid-70s than they do now.

      The point is eventually, I did get help and I’m grateful for that. xo

  11. This made me think about my own story, Rachel. You are much braver than I am. I understand you really well. You don’t even know how well. Hugs.

    • Thank you, Cinta. I don’t know that it’s bravery that drives me, but more having a platform to share what happened so others won’t have to suffer through it (or their children). I don’t want to instill fear or exploit it, but after all these years, it’s the right time.

      Hugs and love to you. You ARE brave. xo

  12. Thank you so much for sharing your truth, Rachel. You are so strong to be able to do this. I know because I understand the shame. It’s a suffocating blanket that makes you struggle to breathe, much less live. People will say that if this helps just one person, you will have succeeded. But you already have. I’m so very proud of you.

    • I hesitated for a long time, Martha. I don’t want people to think I’m exploiting the situation for gratuitous reasons. But the more I wrote about it, and shared my writing with others, they were very encouraging.

      I so appreciate your comments and support. xo

  13. Big hugs honey. You’ve moved on which is the power of your strength and what you’ve passed to your children,

  14. Coming from someone who knows, it is a daily struggle to find normalcy. My heart is with you. The amazing thing is that you are overcoming the lasting effects of a terrible act. You have my admiration, respect, and support.

  15. Jeffery Rowan on said:

    We all must remove the power he wielded by not remaining victims. What happened to you isn’t you. Your path was altered but the true path still remains.
    people should know that there is no way to prevent these abominations except through not becoming a perpetrator.
    Thank you for your bravery Rachel.

    • I agree, Jeffrey. There’s really two definitions of victim: the one who things happen to, and the one who carries that moniker around for the rest of their lives. I’m definitely #1, not #2. That said, it has taken me until this year — 37 years later — to be able to share my story with others in my work.

      My only goal is to help others or make them more cautious. I appreciate your comments and support very much.

  16. So brave of you Rachel – and so poignant! First, my heart goes out to you for what you experienced. Second, thank you. Thank you for sharing what so many experience, but few talk about. May those who need to see this letter see it. Hugs!

  17. Thanks for sharing your story.

  18. Rachel thanks so much for putting into words what some of us cannot and perhaps never will be able to. Child abuse of all forms (molestation, rape, beatings etc) scar the child no matter the age. Some are able to compartmentalize the pain/fear, others suppress for a while until it explodes into various forms of self destructive behavior and yet others never can deal and end up medicating themselves with drugs and other substances.

    My experience and that of my best friend colored the way that both of us raised our children, male and female. Children and their innocence needs to be protected at all costs and there is no earthly punishment that could ever balance the scales of justice for this horrific crime.

    There are so many platitudes I can express, but just know that you have my hugs and admiration, that will probably carry the most weight. {hugs}

    • Very much, hugs are lovely. Thank you for sharing some of your story in your comments. I agree so much with everything you say. But I will add that kids do need to know about the dangers and learn how to trust their instincts. It’s the one lesson that’s taught me more than anything — and I recall knowing this was not right but feeling powerless to stop it. IDK if any kind of self-defense would have helped at that young of an age, but it did teach me to question much more and go with my gut.


  19. This is such a brave and heartbreaking post Rachel. I’m so sorry this terrible this happened to you and I admire your courage to speak out. Huge hugs xxxxx

  20. I am so very sorry you had to go through that. Thank you for sharing this, it was very powerful.

  21. Sean R. Jepson on said:

    rachel’s what happened to you was truly disgusting but you seem to have risen above that is going on to make something good and productive out of your life good for you don’t let anyone hold you down

  22. Such a heartbreaking post. I admire your strength for not only surviving, but thriving, and your bravery to share your story. Thank you.

  23. It takes guts to write about stuff like this! I can’t comprehend why people do this stuff. I haven’t suffered through this, but if I had I would be a very angry child. Me or my father would probably be in jail. Big bear hugs!

    • Thanks, sweet Amanda. It’s almost a surreal experience — like it happened to somebody else. And in essence, it did in a way since I’m someone totally different now. I imagine my folks felt completely helpless. I wasn’t an angel in high school and did a lot they probably still don’t know about! But I never descended into addiction or self-harm. And for that, I’m grateful. xo

  24. Bless your heart for sharing, Rachel. I suffered for 14 years with the dark, silent pain of having to watch my daughter, who had just turned four, testify against the pedophile who tainted her innocence. I remember them escorting me out of the room and I could only watch through the hard, thick glass as she showed the judge with two dolls what he did to her.

    Years after his release, he taunted us, the ugliness of his face, the sound of his voice. It wasn’t until the day it happened that I knew for sure he was the one who touched me and other family members, stealing our innocence years before. And like you, I couldn’t write about it or anything and I couldn’t write what made me happy…not until the day I heard of his death. Was it wrong for me to dance? I did. I jumped up and danced so hard, and joyfully. Not because he was dead, but because, I felt I could live again, really live again, breathe again and I haven’t been able to stop writing since.

    I would like to put a warning out there for parents. In our case, it happened while everyone in the house was asleep. I wasn’t the wake up in the middle of the night person, but this time I did. He was the type of predator that preyed on young girls in their sleep. This way he could say they were dreaming. So, parents, if you have that nudge telling you to get up in the middle of the night or whenever (a nudge is a nudge) get up and check on the babies! He was a family member and I trusted no one after that and vowed not to date until my kids were almost grown. I kept that promise.

    It seems like it affected me more because I carried that burden for my children, for myself all those years. My kids are well-rounded and well-traveled (we moved a lot!). My daughter says she’s fine and doesn’t want counseling, she’s twenty now with a daughter of her own and she’ll be just as fierce as I was and still am when it comes to protecting children, humans and the human spirit.
    It’s funny, Rachel, I screamed what he did to the top of my lungs for years and then I couldn’t talk about anymore because everyone was beginning to question my sanity. Now, I just had word vomit on this blog, but it’s all good. Just wanted to share like you have. And maybe one day I will tell the whole story.

    You are brave, Rachel and I have much love for you. Thank you a thousand times.

    • Thank you and I’m amazed at YOUR strength. It’s so true; as humans and parents– our instincts are our best friend. It’s simply a matter of listening. The horror of what happened to you and your small daughter is hard for us to wrap our minds around. Perhaps that’s why people choose to ignore the obvious.

      I’m so sorry for your pain, and proud that you’re choosing to share here. Thank you. xo

  25. I’m so sorry you had to live through that hell. My heart bleeds for you. Proud of the woman you are and the strength you show so many. Thank you for sharing your gift and such a private piece of your life. Can’t wait to read your book. You are truly amazing, Rachel. Much love.

    • Thank you, Lail. It’s a part of my life I wouldn’t ever wish on anyone, yet it happens to SO many children, male or female. It’s very sad and scary, but having that vigilance as a parent is not a bad thing. Our babies are treasures. I can’t wait to get my book out! It’s been a long time in the making. xo

      • you are a blessing to so many, beautiful. Lost you on Facebook when I deleted my second account after the sudden passing of our young niece. Sending you a new request. Miss your posts!!! Thanks for all you do. Keep shining!!! xo

      • I want all your books for Christmas. Told my hubby and kids. We are financially poor, so we will see. I have been a good girl this year for the most part. 😉 (((hugs))))

  26. Debra SL on said:

    I hate that someone so sick could inflict such damage on you, both mental and physical, but I also hate that your parents were at a loss to help you. That man managed to inflict pain on all three of you permanently. I think one of the worst things is that it damaged your ability to trust, which in this twisted world is harder and harder to come by. My father is a hugger and thankfully could never imagine being inappropriate and yet because of creeps like that, he now has to be careful even complimenting parents on their children lest it be misinterpreted. I am so thankful that you are a fighter and overcame the horror. I hate that it returns to you in the fear for your daughter. Thank you for being willing to warn others and know that my prayers are with you for healing peace so that the taint of his presence doesn’t even have to enter your thoughts. You are an absolute treasure and we are blessed that you are with us!

    • Thank you, Debra. I lived with that hate for so many years. That and shame, which rationally I know makes no sense as I was young, but still, there it is. How lovely to have an affectionate, loving father, but you’re right — parents must be on alert at all times (no offense to him, e sounds terrific).

      I don’t blame my parents — they did the best they could with little education or knowledge about sexual abuse. I know there’s guilt, and blaming them would only cause more pain. It’s not their fault a monster like that chose me (or his other victims). I know you’re not saying that, but the aftermath becomes a very complicated issue. It’s just something you move beyond.

      thanks again for your kind comments. xo

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  28. You are a Brave n Wonderful woman,Rachel,sugar.I’m now 58 n can still remember vividly when it happened to me,the only difference; 2 of me uncles were me tormentors n me beloved mama,was me only believer.This took a lot of courage for you to do n I commend your bravery.I now have a daughter n 2 grand daughters n believe me they are watched closely,relatives or not.Much love,many hugs n Billions of respect,honey darlin’ xoxoxo

    • Oh, Tina, I’m so sorry. Thank goodness your mom believed you! How awful. It’s always horrible when it happens, but especially bad from people you are supposed to be able to trust. That is, we know, how pedophiles work. It’s the combined effects of the physical abuse along w/ the mental that makes it hard, but not impossible, to overcome.

      hugs and love back at you, sweetheart. xo

  29. I am almost in tears, sitting here in Pancake Parlour, having just read this piece while my writing buddy dashed off to the toilet. She can see something is wrong with me. But I wouldn’t know where to begin.

    Hugs, Rachel. Lots of hugs.

    • Hugs back, Ross. I appreciate your heartfelt response and while I know it’s not a happy topic, it is raw and real — something I aim for in all my writing, humor or not.

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting… and feeling it.

  30. Powerful stuff Rachel – I started reading this at work and realised that wasn’t my best idea ever 🙂 and I totally agree with you – we have to talk openly about these things – although unfortunately it may (and has done in my experience) freak people out a bit because they don’t really want or know how to handle it, which is fine, but I know that I have to share my journey with people because who knows how it may help another person to not feel quite so alone or mad. ((hugs)) to you – oh another thing I heard that I liked – it is so often said that there are survivors of Sexual abuse, but I much prefer to be called a thriver – I survived for years – just, but thriving is so much more fun and definitely means i’m living life 🙂 x

  31. Thank you, XS. Thriver is a wonderful word — awesome, in fact.

    It is a difficult thing — to not let what happened back when affect us today. For me, becoming a mother myself brought it all to the surface. And that’s ok. It’s made me extraordinarily aware of the people around my kids, and that’s a good thing.

    Good things — that’s what I focus on. Thank you for sharing your story here also. Hugs and love, R

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  33. Raw, real, necessary, powerful….freeing.

    • Thank you, Shandra. I so appreciate you reading and commenting.

      I just finished the book that this piece is a part of (hopefully up on amazon in a few hours). It’s a bit terrifying to have it out there, but as you say, necessary.


  34. You are extraordinary. That is all.

  35. Pingback: Sexual Assault Awareness: Break the Silence! » The Peasants Revolt

  36. Pingback: Sexual Assault Awareness: Break the Silence! » The Peasants Revolt

  37. Thank you Rachel. Thank your precious heart, and I’m sorry. You didn’t deserve that, no one does. Love, Sheri

  38. How courageous you were! I know you didn’t know it then but I hope you know it now.

    • Hi Christin! thank you for saying so. I didn’t know it then — mostly it was terrifying. As I’ve gotten older, I understand much more how that fear has impacted my life, in both making me stronger and how I’ve learned to react to various experiences.

      Our brain chemistry is affected by the abuse — something I didn’t know then and am just learning so much more about now. I don’t let it rule my life, but it will alway be there.

  39. I’ve always known how strong (and strong willed) you are, Rachel. But I never knew you had the strength of angels. This letter will probably be the most powerful thing I read for a very long time. I’m not sure if the tears running down my cheek are there due to anger at the violation or the absolute respect I have for you…but they are there nonetheless.



  40. Thank you for your courage to share. Child molesters seek opportunity like yours, ” You gave the neighborhood kids scooter rides. It was fun. The parents figured their kids were safe since you were a responsible adult. Nobody else took that time with us. Parents mostly just wanted us out of their hair.” Beware of men who want to spend time with kids?
    Those are MY Private Parts
    This book helps children open healthy communication about what is okay and what is not okay when it comes to touching private parts of the body. It uses child-friendly rhyming and colorful illustrations by a four-year-old to incorporate messages about sexual abuse prevention. Statistics and information on childhood sexual abuse are included for parents and educators.
    Massachusetts Department of Public Health: Healthy Relationships, Sexuality and Disability Resource Sexual Health and Human Rights Guide 2011 page 20
    Now in Spanish “Esas Son Mis Partes Privadas!”
    Order on Amazon. Quantity discounts available at
    #childsexualabuseprevention #childsexualabuse #sexabuse @dianerenehansen
    #CranioSacral Therapy helping survivors heal the emotional scars left in their body from childhood traumas. The ACE Study is powerful research linking childhood trauma to long-term health and social consequences. The body just doesn’t “get over” trauma. This traumatic energy could actually manifest itself into disease.
    #TAALK Talk About Abuse to Liberate Kids Darkness 2 Light
    Thank you Rachael.

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