A letter to the next girl

A letter to the next girl

This came about while I was reading the allegations against James Deen. It made my head spin. Similar to the accusations against Jian Ghomeshi, these men have patterns; MO’s. My attacker had an MO and it was almost identical to Ghomeshi. Some things he did were so methodical, I recognized the patterns and routines even in my state of shock.


I have heard so much about “the next girl”, a very real person who is actually in grave danger.

Usually when people talk about the next girl, they are giving you a lot of fictional power.
They say “You have to report this so he doesn’t do it again. Think of the next girl.”
Believe me, I think of the next girl. Every. Damn. Day.
And I feel like a failure.

On some level, I know this isn’t my burden to bear. This guy is going to do whatever the hell he wants regardless of my actions. Not reporting his crime does not make me responsible for his behaviour. That’s an awful lot of responsibility to put on someone who just narrowly escaped with her life.
At least, if I were someone else, this is what I would tell me. But instead. I wonder what the next girl is doing right now, if she is mad at me for not saving her. Is she broken like me? Does she have panic attacks and lie awake shaking?

I explained a little bit about the process of reporting sexual assault to the police in my initial post I Hope Everyone Can Heal From This. It was not an easy process and I don’t think the system has changed since then. I was lucky enough to have a detective who believed me; he was compassionate and caring. Some victims are not so lucky, and the people they report to do not believe them or accuse them of lying. It’s such a personal matter, that fact alone can be enough to drive some survivors away.

It’s not our responsibility to report, or to prevent this from happening to the next girl. Our sole responsibility is to survive, and to take care of ourselves. We have had a lot taken away from us, and even if we do report we may not get our day in court. The statistics on this are pretty grim – RAINN estimates that only 6% or rapists will ever spend a night in jail. So it’s fair to wonder if it’s worth reliving the worst day or night of your life over and over in front of strangers. In some cases, it may do more damage than good. Each case is unique and there is no cookie cutter way to approach it.

Please keep this in mind if you are helping a loved one through this situation. And please reach out if you are weighing your options and don’t know where to turn for support. I am not an expert but I can speak to my experience and listen as you hash it out on your own.


To the next girl, all of the next girls after her, and all of the next girls that have come before me::

I am so sorry. I did everything I could to stop this. I still lose sleep over it, wracked with guilt knowing that he hurt you. I think about it on weekends. I wonder if he is out on the prowl, and if someone else is going to destroyed in the same way I was. I know that I wasn’t the first girl he hurt, and I am sure I wasn’t the last. My voice alone wasn’t strong enough to get justice, but maybe together we can make it happen. Mostly I just hope everyone can heal from this. 

-Elizabeth

Author

Elizabeth

Elizabeth

Hi! I'm Elizabeth, a blogger on When You're Ready.org I spent 2 years struggling with PTSD and panic attacks following a violent attack. I want to use my experience and my voice to raise support for others. I desperately want to make the world a safer place for girls and women, especially my two little sisters. Keep talking, Keep sharing. When You're Ready, I'll be here.

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