Margaret Elizabeth Hulse: An open letter to survivors of abuse

I have been trying to write this letter for weeks now, but I keep getting stuck trying to find perfect, sweet, gentle words because I know what you’ve been through, and I want you to know how much I care. I know how hard it is to wander aimlessly through the darkness after your body has been used as someone else’s “play-thing,” while a shadow of despair looms over your shoulders, trying to push you deeper down a path of self hatred.

I know that it is so hard to find the good in yourself after your sense of value was violently stolen, then hurled in your face. I know what it feels like to look at every other woman in the world and believe that they are better than you, because their bodies were not treated like filth for an egomaniacal person’s gain (even though the statistics prove otherwise). I know what it feels like to not be able to think logically because you feel so alone in a whirlwind of darkness.  I know what every step of the painstaking journey feels like.

I wrote about it as I lived it: I stood alone and felt that sadness that accompanies loneliness. The massive dark shadow crept closer. The closer the shadow crept, the more fear and sadness washed over me. My mind began to twist and turn and tell me things that I didn’t want to hear. My chest trembled as I grasped for air. If I let the darkness engulf me, if I surrendered to the fear and loneliness that the shadow carried, then the strong woman who lives deep in my soul would not survive.

I want to hug you and tell you that it’s all going to be okay. Stay strong, sister! I want to say. I’ve got your back girl! You’ve got this! The past is behind you and it’s all getting better from here!

I want to say those things because I truly mean them. But you have to know that there is so much more to it than that. First of all, you have to know that you are f*cking strong. You are a rock. Scratch that… you are a f*cking diamond. You have everything it takes to get through this. Second, you have to know how much I love you and respect you for picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and asking for help, so that you can get the tools you need to get through this. We were not meant to heal from trauma alone, and asking for help takes a ton of courage. I applaud you because recognizing that you deserve to move forward toward something better means that you know your worth, and that is HUGE.

I will not sugar coat anything because I don’t want you to give you false hope. As you find the help you need and give yourself time to heal, some achievements will feel like huge strides, but you will also have days when you feel like you are taking one step forward and ten steps back. There are days when you’ll have flashbacks, and have to relive every moment of agony that you were forced to endure, and it will hurt like hell. If you believe that the strides forward are taking you farther than the steps backwards, you will ultimately find yourself ahead: stronger, smarter, more graceful, fueled by power and inspiration. You will become a force to be reckoned with when you choose to move forward, in spite of the pain.

This is not an easy road, but it’s your road. No, you didn’t get to choose what happened to your body when it was assaulted and abused and treated like filth, but it’s your decision to change course. You have a right to decide where you want to go next. The journey isn’t over. Every day requires a new step in one direction or another, so please remember this: no matter what your path looks like… you are not alone. God is by your side, guiding you toward a place of love, and light, so that you can shine like the brilliant diamond that you are.

I love you so much. You deserve nothing but the best. Don’t ever forget that.


In the wake of sexual abuse, author and artist, Margaret Elizabeth Hulse began writing her first illustrated novel, ‘Sketches from the Heart of a Texas Artist’, as a cathartic exercise to help her move through the pain. 

Her novel quickly became an illustration of the journey we’re all faced to explore after we’ve endured a traumatic event.  It was during this time that she founded The Love Necklace Campaign, to ensure that other women have the support they need as they recover from similar experiences.

As an painter, writer, and jewelry designer, Margaret Elizabeth uses her creative trifecta to empower women and inspire them to venture out from their shadows into a place of strength and beauty.


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