Conversation with a Sexual Predator

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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.

 

The Why (The Day I Attempted Suicide, Part 2)

“…you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:32

IF I were dying, THEN they would realize how much they love me–this was a fantasy I would play out in my mind often as I tried to fall asleep at night. My mind was a safe place where I would try to sort out all the feelings that were far bigger than I was at the time.  At four, one does one’s best to wrestle with complex issues, and this was part of my feeble attempt. It was the year I was first sexually violated and lost my innocence. Throw that into a whirlpool of flourishing familial dysfunction, and I would begin to understand pain and rejection for the very first time. Sometimes our greatest traumas come from what isn’t given.

Survive–we are hard coded to survive until it is pecked away by the brokenness. Surviving is not the same as thriving… So much can be robbed from us in moments, leaving behind decaying parts that long for redemption to breath new life.

17. He spent at least a year grooming me, testing to see just how broken I really was, before he attacked me. After so many sexual assaults through the years, THIS ONE had to be my fault, right? I should have known better. I should have been wiser.  And yet, wasn’t this story familiar somehow– the one that seemed to speak of my worthlessness again and again? I had even met Jesus, so how could these things happen still? I was tired of surviving. After I managed to get away, I sat mostly naked and sobbing on my bedroom floor.  I studied the pill bottle on my vanity. Gone were my childhood fantasies, left were rotting wounds. How could I go on? What was the point? So much pain. That first thought was nothing but a whisper…just take the pills

The seed had been planted before I was old enough to add, watered with every trauma life brought, and fertilized by my ignorance.  Suicide...maybe it was the only way the pain would ever stop. It became the new fantasy, a false promise that maybe it was the only way to end my pain after all.  So, with every incredibly dark and painful season this thought would echo through my mind like a sweet promise of freedom…

Lies are always powerful, but the truth holds greater power still.  I had yet to learn that lesson, though.

The day I attempted suicide, the birth control pills had pulled the proverbial trigger, but the gun had long ago been loaded.  Take away the synthetic hormones and my mood would indeed regulate, but it would not teach me what I desperately needed to learn. The trigger was always there, tempting me to just pull…

…when the infertility news arrived.

…when my twin daughters died.

…when I faced rejection more profound than I had ever dreamed possible before…

..the thought came like a drink of water that promised to extinguish my fire. No more pain.

What was wrong with me?  Who thinks these thoughts? Clearly only crazy people! The shame that enveloped me held my tongue until I was bone weary of the plague it had become.

The perspiration beaded on my brow and soaked through my shirt as I finally blurted out my secret to my therapist.

I struggle with thoughts of suicide, and I don’t understand what is wrong with me!” I cried.

The flood gates opened, the tears I had cried behind closed doors for years spilled forth, climaxing into an ugly, snotty sob of confession.

Amazingly, she NEVER said what I was so terrified was true–that I was indeed crazy.  (In fact, I asked her repeatedly just to be sure.) Instead, her words would shatter my shame, breathe life into my desert, and pave the way to greater freedom than I had ever previously known.  I would finally understand the why, I would begin to see the truth and slowly she would teach me to understand just what I could do.

Freedom. Finally.