A police prosecutor once told us at a group therapy session that known predators are quite often people who everyone likes. They're friendly, charismatic, flirty, they're everyone's friend. No one would expect them to commit a crime, let alone a crime like sexual assault. And that's how they get away with it. She told me that deep down, they're fighting back the urges, building the facade that lures you in until they stop fighting it and...
I ran out of the room in tears at that point so I don't actually know what she said, but I can guess.
A matter of seconds before I was attacked, I still trusted him with my life, like I always had. He had been my best friend through a very hard period of growing up. Even after the first time part of me still trusted him, not because I was pretending it never happened, but because it was so completely out of character for him.
Everyone encouraged me to forgive him, so that's what I did.
A few months later he put his arm around me at a party and my body froze for a second. He told me that he missed me, and I told him that I missed him too.
To try and not call forgiveness my biggest mistake so far has been incredibly difficult. I thought forgiveness was what I was meant to do to achieve peace and avoid confrontation. I used to always believe the best in people. But forgiveness worked against me in the one way I was most scared of—it let him attack me again. My truth is that forgiveness didn't make me a bigger person, it made me the smallest I've ever felt.
He knew he could never have me sexually while I was awake, that's why he waited until I was asleep. When I woke up to the second attack, I honestly thought I was having another nightmare about the first time. I remember every detail, but the detail I remember the most was the way he looked at me when I escaped. He looked at me like I was nothing, and that was the first time I actually believed it. After all, I had always trusted his judgement.
In twenty days time it will be the one year anniversary since the second attack. Reflecting on what I had then and what I have now, I realize that most things I used to care about have disappeared from my life one-by-one. My friends, my relationship, my passions, my work, my relationship with my family. Taken either by him, or by the depression caused by him.
For a long time, all that I held onto was the fantasy of legal justice, but any survivor will tell you that that process is nothing but victim blaming, sexism and revolting power dynamics. Reporting the crimes to the police was the worst decision for my healing process. In the end I learned that no one is going to stand up for me except myself, and that creates a deep loneliness that I cannot begin to describe.
It's a lie that time heals all wounds, and I've stopped listening when people tell me it will get better because the only thing I hope for is that it becomes manageable. It's been almost a year, and I feel worse than when I was in that bed being attacked.
I wrote out a positive ending to this about sex and love still being important to me and that my attitude towards intimacy is still unharmed. But then I remembered that this is a page for truths, and that's not a truth at all.
How I would instead like to end this is by saying sorry to myself.
I want to say sorry to my mind and my body for blaming it, for not forgiving it, for hating it, and for everyday that I push it to keep going when it just wants to rest. I'm sorry for taking medications to try and dampen your screams, and I'm sorry for all the drugs and alcohol and cigarettes.
And I'm sorry for wanting to kill you.
And I'm sorry for what he/she did to you.
And I believe you.