My friend recently admitted to me that she’s a victim of severe emotional and psychological abuse. Naturally, being a victim myself, I already knew that about her.
The conversation we had brought back a lot of intense moments in my life, one of which she witnessed.
I was fifteen, living with a family in a city far from my parents. The man of the house was intimately involved in what he called “helping me”. He would sit with me for hours, talking about my issues and telling me how to overcome them. I really thought he cared about my well-being.
To make a long and painful story short, the night I realized what was really going on, I arranged to go to my friend’s house. We had gotten out of the car and had started to walk up her driveway when she noticed his car pull up behind us. I started to run. She stood there, confused, and wanted to know why he had followed us, and why I was ignoring his calls to go over to him. He had a hairbrush in his hand and waved it out the window, frantically yelling that I had forgotten my brush at home and I should come get it. As comical as the situation might sound, the fear I felt at that moment still haunts me to this day.
It was years later that she experienced a form of abuse herself. The man involved was someone she initially respected, and I remember how she used to speak of him with reverence. It took her a long time to admit that the relationship had been unhealthy and that he had abused her, as well as abusing his authoritative position.
The two situations are very different, yet we both have the same feelings about letting go.
We can’t let go.
We can’t let go and move on, despite having worked on the issues created by the abuse, because these men are still able to abuse other girls.
For some reason, although my parents and the principal of the school knew about what had happened to me, there are still girls boarding at this man’s house. The other man is well-known and well-liked and runs a school for girls where he will always be able to find his prey.
I have always wondered why years of therapy helped me move past so many more severe traumas I experienced, yet I still get stuck when it comes to this part of my life. After speaking with my friend, I’ve come to realize that the knowledge that this man is still capable of abusing other young girls fills me with guilt and other classic victim feelings.
So am I still a victim?