Author’s Note: As usual, I’m changing names to protect innocent and guilty alike. I’ve renamed the man who was a very good friend to me after the son of a professional I greatly respect. This thank you is nearly 25 years overdue. And his eyes were electric blue…
It’s been over two decades since we’ve seen each other. I always loved the way we could talk multiple periods of history in 15 minutes while the bio and geo majors watched in awe. And it’s been 25 years since that night, the one I no longer talk about. I was too trusting and naive, I’d said no twice, and I spiralled out of control.
I’d tried several people to talk to about that night. Because the man-child who couldn’t take no was a respected leader in the student religious community and my yearmate, no one wanted to believe me, no one wanted to talk about it, and I was supposed to forgive and pretend it had never happened.
You had to be in a hard position, being in a group that he was in. You were to see him like a brother, to defend and protect him and all that entails. And yet, somehow, you found time and room to hear me out.
I’m not sure everything is clear in my mind. And I might have things out of order — stress does that to me.
I remember we took a long walk the following fall. It was starting to frost, but the frost was melted for that time of day. The farmer’s field had dead corn stalks, and the river made gentle flowing water sounds. I don’t remember the exact words I used, but you listened. You believed me. You helped me connect to some resources the next town over.
I believe I was silent on the way back, and pretty much shut everyone out after that. And I made some wild, wild choices. But I don’t think I talked about why I shut down, or why I gave in and tried to make everything look good for the three years he lived the proverbial two doors down.
The professional who listened to me showed me the exact text of the law. At that time, there was little difference between rape and sexual assault except Tab P in Slot V and fluid samples. In my case, because my clothes were still on, I had no legal recourse.
That was so hard. But you did listen, you stayed kind, and as far as I know you never shared anything I shared.
Thanks for listening and validating and believing. You helped me get the information I needed to let go, to not take the poison of anger and unforgiveness into myself and expect it to end the life of the man-child. The seeds you planted did not help right away, but eventually the fruit did grow.
I think your wisdom and concern have shown me the folly of some efforts to focus on forcing perpetrators to be found 20 or 30 years after the fact. So much more could be done to heal victims if we listened, believed, and gave them the proper tools to process what happened to them. Revenge never results in true justice.
I hope we do meet again. So much good has come to me in all this time, and I’d love to share it in person instead of here on my blog.
Agape and phileo,