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What It Would Mean to See the Man Who Assaulted Me

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Editor's Note

If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the “Event” a lot. I’ve relived it many times over this past week. Not so much in a way that makes me sad, but I guess in a way that is trying to make me understand it better. I know what happened. I know what it did to me. I know what didn’t happen and I know what I wanted to be done. But there’s still the unknown.

• What is PTSD?

Why me? What made me the chosen one? Seeing myself now and where I’ve landed after, I know I would have never wished for it to not be me. Because if it wasn’t me, would my fate have become someone else’s? I was OK enough to survive it and its aftermath. But would another girl have been able to?

I don’t know the answer to that and I’m glad. I got through it and I never had to hear a story of someone else going through my event instead of me. Maybe it would’ve been worse? I’ll never know and I’m incredibly glad I won’t. But those unknowns, all of them, keep me up at night. What if? What if the end result was different? What if I had gone to the police? And the biggest what if of all: What if I see him again someday?

I’ve seen stories lately of survivors running into their attackers again in person or even online.

What if I see him? The probability is high as we still live in the same state. The friends we had in common are still both of our friends. In my head, the chances are getting higher with each passing thought.

So, what would happen? Would he speak to me? Will I gain courage and scream into his face all the pain he’s caused me for years? Or will he pretend I don’t exist because in truth I never meant a damn thing to him? Probably option three. So, what does that mean for me?

Maybe I’ll never see him. Maybe I’ll run into him and panic. Maybe he’ll see me and I’ll never see him. Or maybe, just maybe, one look at me will make him realize the true horror of what he put me through.

So, what would it mean for me if I saw my attacker again after all these years? You want the truth? Not a damn thing. He took most of what he wanted that day. But I made it out, when many others aren’t so lucky. He didn’t get everything from me by sheer luck or I’d be telling a very different story.

So, to that guy, you didn’t break me. To my fellow survivors, you are strong, brave, and powerful and we do not have to fear the what ifs. Every day we strive to make it through, I know I do. To those of you reading I ask you, what would it mean to you if you saw your attacker again?

Unsplash image by Mitchell Orr

Originally published: October 23, 2021
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