I had just entered Costco with my husband and kids when I saw you. You are older, heavier, and balder then you were 23 years ago but your features are burned into my memory like a scared wound. The revulsion I felt in my body was rapid. Just the sight of you made my stomach turn, my fists curl, and my pulse race. The bile that raised up burned my throat as I willed it back in place. 23 years since you robbed me, groomed me and violated me. Do you remember me?
My husband said we could leave the store, that I didn’t have to put myself through this- the seeing of you. But you see, I am not who I once was and I don’t run away or cower down or submit to evil anymore. I would not be the one to retreat today.
I saw the woman at your side and I wondered if she knew who you really were. Did you tell her you are a sexual predator? Does she have kids? Have you changed? The bile rose in my throat again. I didn’t fight back before, I never stood up for myself, for I was utterly convinced (despite the few who learned of what happened saying otherwise) that I had somehow caused it all. Me, “a stupid, seductress, teenage slut” was responsible for what you did… I even planned on taking my own life after you attempted to rape me and failed because of the shame that enveloped me, the knowing that I couldn’t wash away your fingerprints on my flesh.
But not today. I am no longer her.
I thought it was time you meet me.
I feared I may have missed my opportunity while I regained myself, so I whispered silently to the God who has redeemed all you stole, “give me another chance…”
I stood in the middle of the aisle as my husband grabbed some butter and you rounded the corner with the woman. You looked up, you recognized me, and you quickly looked away. I stood there, arms crossed, and invited my children to gather around as I explained that this is what a predator can look like. And then, after what felt like too long, I willed my feet to move. I walked right up to you and leaned in a bit, you turned with a smile. That smile made it clear what I needed to say.
I wonder what you expected.
“Have you told her who you really are T**?” You looked at me with disdain before you looked away.
Again, I grew a bit louder, bolder, and unwavering– with one look I knew you had not changed.
“Does she know you are a sexual predator? Does she, T**? If not, she really deserves to know who you are and what you have done.”
At this, behind you, I heard her asking who I was, and then when my words registered, I saw her eyes grow big and heard her exclaim, “WHAT?” I faintly heard my husband behind me say, “I don’t think she knew.” And as you started to walk silently away I drew one last breath to say, “Who better to know than me, your victim!” And the chain fragments that were still being carried by me, fell. Did you hear them? It sounded like a surge of my power coming home, where it always belonged.
And walking away to a clammer of sounds between you and that poor woman, that my mind just could not be bothered with, I realized that I had finished taking back my power- power you once robbed me of.
Were you surprised to find yourself before one you once overpowered now standing before you fiercely, unflinching, a warrior?
I turned the corner of the aisle and fist pumped the air, then turned to look at my daughters who had watched it all. And I realized again, it is NEVER too late to take back your power, to fight for your freedom, and to land in the beautiful, bountiful land of victory.
Dear T**, I wish you knew my Jesus.