Anonymous Story: a letter to my assailantabuserex(?)

Anonymous Story: a letter to my assailantabuserex(?)

sometimes i wonder – did you think about me, my future when you did what you did? or were you really that shortsighted and selfish? did you really not care? i’ve long since tried to find reason when there was none – i’ll never get an answer, and at this point i don’t think any explanation will soothe the ache.

i wanted to be a teacher. i wanted to stand in front of a classroom, day in and day out, for the next thirty years, teaching the next generation about american history – the good and the bad and the ugly and how to make sense of it. my dream job shifted, changed, after you – you put me on this path. i did not chose it. you shunted me down it, and i went because it was that or drown.

my freshman year was supposed to be a fun time, of exploration and joy and newfound freedom. mistakes are supposed to be drinking too much and having a headache the next day. not someone who should have looked at me and seen a child just out of high school, still naive and trusting. but you knew i was trusting, didn’t you? freshman year was supposed to be a highlight of my college career in its good and bad and messy. but i can barely remember it. even five years later my brain is still protecting me from you.

everything changed. my grad school plans, my career. i left my old extracurriculars and found new ones. i drifted from my friends. i cried in bathrooms between classes and jumped at loud noises and went silent, muscles contracting and throat freezing and voice paralyzed. i told no one for months. i gained weight, i became an activist, i got tattoos. a swan over the old self-harm scars. a dandelion on my ankle. the word speak, in an old typewriter font. i won’t be silenced again.

i finished grad school and was hired at a local rape crisis agency just over a month later.

did you know you were creating a monster? a siren, a harpy, a medusa. did you know you were creating a creature of passion and rage and strength – a spine of steel and a voice like a warm blanket? i can find common ground and make a joke out of anything, i can break the tension in one breath and offer comfort in the next. i can spit out policy, court cases, title ix in the next in rapid-fire. i’ve gone to conferences and done readings and gone toe-to-toe with lawyers and school administrators who want us survivors to keep quiet, don’t make a scene, don’t rock the boat. but there are still days a survivor’s story strikes a chord with mine.

my clients are not my absolution. i found that on my own through hard work and therapy and harder lessons. but i see pain in their eyes i once saw staring back at me in a mirror and i will support them and protect them until my heart gives out.

today at work i found myself on my knees in a court room in front of an eighteen-year-old girl, beseeching her to look at me, only at me, breathe with me, coaxing her through a panic attack because i had no one to coach me years ago.

there will always be boys like him, the girl says to me, her lips twisting. there are dark circles under her eyes and she is so pale, so tired, shoulders tucked down and in. she is scared of the court process, of the boy who is following her, of walking out her own front door. and i have to bite back the words that spring to my lips, a confession –

maybe, sweetheart. but boys like him make women like me.

i finally told my mother about you. just enough so she could get the picture, so she can understand – i wouldn’t give her the gruesome details. it took me four years to do it and my hands still shook in fear of what she would say. it made me sick all over again, and then angry. all the things you did. everything you took. how dare you. how dare you. you made my mother cry.

but i am still here. i have bent and bowed but i am not broken. there is an after to this pain, dear reader, i promise you. i have found it, am still finding it, and creating it every day that i roll out of bed and button my shirt and put on my heels and kiss my boyfriend goodbye. i create it every time i tell him i love him, every time i laugh, every time i walk home alone and don’t look over my shoulder every ten steps. every time i decide that i will be kind to myself, and to other women, other survivors, every time i think, you know, i don’t need to read this article/watch this show/play this game where women are brutalized.

there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but the road doesn’t end there. you just keep walking in the sunlight.



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