TRIGGER WARNING: Rape
It’s strange how J mimics my own life in some ways. I wish it wasn’t so.
She saw her rapist at the grocery store.
The same grocery store where I saw mine.
Years ago, as a very young and wild teen, I was gang raped by “friends”. Long story….I know I wrote about it already, but I don’t feel like searching for it to create a link. Maybe later.
A year later, I moved on. I made all new friends, cut my ties with that so-called group of friends (all of them, not just the ones who raped me). I literally moved on to a new boyfriend (who became my husband) in a new town. The first town is about a 35 minute drive to the town I moved to. I grew up, married, had kids, and became a teacher. My life moved forward, but my soul did not. Just as I did with the molestation I endured as a child, I covered it up and pretended it didn’t happen. If I don’t think about it, it can’t hurt me, right? Or so I thought.
One year, one of my students happened to be this weird little dude I will call Paul. I taught fourth grade, and some little boys having a crush on me was the norm; it goes with the territory. After a week or so, they usually get over it and fall for a more appropriate love interest, like the cute blonde with freckles who sits next to them in class. Paul, however, persisted to fawn over me all year. Like I said, a weird little dude. I met his mother several times during conferences and we laughed together over his strange infatuation with me.
At the end of the year we had a big awards ceremony. The day before, Paul gave me a strange smile and said,”My dad is coming to awards tomorrow.” I was slightly shocked, as Paul’s dad had not attended any events that year. In fact, Paul NEVER talked about his dad, so I assumed he was a very un-involved parent. Then Paul said, “My dad knows you.” He giggled and ran off.
I truly didn’t think anything of it until the next day. I was standing in my classroom when Paul’s dad, my old friend and rapist, stood in my doorway. Time stood still as our eyes met. The world around me faded away and all I could see where those eyes in the darkness. I was unable to blink or breath until he smirked and turned away. He told his son he would see him at the ceremony and then he was gone. When I was able to move again, I looked at Paul, who stood there, staring at me, with that same smirk. Like he knew.
Somehow I got through that day. I pulled Paul’s records and realized I lived one street over from my former friend. We lived one street apart and I never knew until that day.
But he knew. He knew the whole time that I was Paul’s teacher.
That summer I saw him again. This time at the grocery store. I left my groceries in the cart and walked out.
It began to eat away at me. I couldn’t sleep without nightmares. I began spending most of my waking hours doing the “What If” game. What if I had pressed charges. What if I called him out in front of his wife. What if…
Finally I realized this was very counter-productive for me. I had to take my life back. I could not run from this anymore. A few days later, in the same grocery store, I saw him. I followed him. When he saw me, the blood drained from his face. I was angry and I did not look away. I would not back down. I took back my power when I looked him in the eyes and loudly said, “Fancy meeting you here. Does you wife know you are a rapist? Does she know how you gave an under-aged girl drugs until she passed out, so you and your sick friends could rape her?” I saw true fear in his eyes for the first time. In that moment, I got my power back. He and his fear no longer controlled me.
Life is funny. That was years ago, and I have not had a chance encounter with him since. He still lives one street away, but it no longer haunts me. In fact, I hadn’t thought about him and those events in a long time.
I wonder how long it will be until J gets her power back.