To The Daily Sun,

I want to write this letter to the brave young woman Jessica Washburn for sharing her story on the front page of the Laconia Daily Sun.

As a mother of an 18-year-old daughter, I want to apologize for your mom not believing you, as it’s a mother’s duty to protect their child over anyone else.

As a survivor of familial sexual abuse, myself, I want to thank you for speaking out and let you know that it gets easier. Telling your story, getting justice on your terms, is almost as cathartic as therapy. I cried as I read your story because I remember myself being 12 or 13 and afraid to tell my mom, but I did, which also gave my younger sister the courage to speak up, as it was happening to her as well. The court system locked our abuser up for about 10 years. Justice does prevail from time to time.

Thank you for being an advocate. We need more women (and men) to speak out. We need survivors to be believed. One of the hardest parts of telling your story is that people do not believe you and then you must tell your story repeatedly to complete strangers. We must be examined and often it’s a cold and lonely situation. It’s like we are violated a second time for seeking help. Then there is the stigma attached to it all.

You are a poised, brave and honorable young woman. I hope that you keep advocating and using your story of survival to inspire others. Your strength is admired. I hope that more young victims of sexual abuse/assault read your story and find the courage and conviction to come forward, get the help and justice they deserve.

The one thing that people often forget is that a sexual predator has assaulted many times before he or she is caught. By speaking up, we are stopping that person from hurting us and potentially many others, and there is power in knowing that. When the days are tough, remember, Jessica, you are not alone, and you are an inspiration.

Erica Hebert


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