The No One Told Me Series: Eye Contact

The No One Told Me Series: Eye Contact

No one told me that after I shared my story, people wouldn’t be able to look me in the eye.

They would look just past my shoulder, or down at their shoes, or duck to avoid me. They would mumble apologies and change the subject as quickly as possible.

It stings.

The first few times I disclosed what had happened to me, I found it really tough. I was worried that people would think different or less of me once they knew. I thought it would change the way they looked at me and thought about me. And for some people, it did.

Part of it is a self-fulfilling prophecy – because I was ashamed and I thought less of myself, I assumed that others were thinking that too. Maybe I was making it uncomfortable. I had a hard time making and holding eye contact and I was all discombobulated. That certainly didn’t make it easier. Now that I have realized that it is not in any way my fault, had the space and time to heal, and worked on my confidence, I am more comfortable looking people in the eye.

Another piece of this puzzle is that some people are uncomfortable expressing emotions. They don’t know what to do, say, or think about what I had disclosed to them. They can’t figure out how to help or make it better. Maybe it hits too close to home for them and they are remembering a bad situation.

I recently had a run-in with someone who I have a lot of respect for and look up to. I really care what this person thinks of me. We were standing face to face for what seems like forever. Neither of us knew what to say…eventually I mustered a “hi” and an awkward wave but they couldn’t respond, couldn’t look at me, and just walked away.

It was heartbreaking, and made me feel ashamed all over again.

It reminds me of the Tragically Hip song, 38 Years Old:

“See my sister got raped so a man got killed
Local boy went to prison, man’s buried on the hill
Folks went back to normal when they closed the case
They still stare at their shoes when they pass our place

People still stare at their shoes when they pass my place.

But I’m learning slowly to keep my chin up, because I know I’m doing the right thing, and raising awareness is more important than my comfort. There will be people who feel uncomfortable knowing this, and they won’t be able to look me in the eye. But that just means that they are processing it in their own way, and maybe they have their own things to work through. That’s okay, and it’s not my burden to carry.

So please, hold your head up high.
I know it hurts. It makes you feel 2 feet tall & it stings real bad. But it’s not a reflection on you, and it will get easier. I Promise.

Keep talking, keep sharing





Hi! I'm Elizabeth, a blogger on When You're 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.