I imagined for a very long time, a lifetime, how it would feel to confront the man who abused me throughout my childhood. Would it fix anything?
I was given an opportunity to confront another abuser in a grocery store. I saw him. I watched him. I had entire body weakness, heat in my heart flowing down through my legs. My face was flushed. I thought I would throw up. I remember it like it was yesterday because my brain is stuck back 15 years ago. This man had locked me in his garage. He was my best friend’s husband. It is a story I have written about on my blog many times before. His betrayal was only one part. His abuse was only another part. His wife choosing him was more parts. His family supporting him just kept adding layer upon layer of parts that weighed heavily on me. I was not chosen. I was not fought for. I didn’t fight for myself when he abused me. I have spoken of this. I have no way of changing my reaction to what he did to me. And looking back now I know had I done anything differently, I may not be sitting here right now. Fighting would not have saved me then. Being very calm did.
Not being able to fight haunted me. I didn’t yet understand that PTSD did not allow me to fight. I was paralyzed with fear. Even if I did not have PTSD, that situation would not left many with the choice to fight. I was questioned why I did not fight. ” He has post polio and you easily could have fought him.” Well…there was that gun leaning against the doorway. Then there was the fear I had of the words he was saying. Throw in that PTSD and I could have been wonderwoman Karate queen and I had no fight in me. I had SURVIVE mode that had kicked in and sometimes survive mode means don’t fight. I am never advising a victim to not fight here. I am saying in this situation, had I fought, I believe I would be dead. But not fighting haunted me. And others blamed me for not fighting.
So, when I saw him in the grocery store I thought, I will fight him. I ran up to him with every force in my being shouting out of my mouth words of power. ” You are a sex offender! How do you live with yourself! I hate you for what you did to me. I wante veryone to know what you did to me so this whole store will know you are a sex offender!” He backed up against a wall. I screamed in his face. I looked at him and I remember the thoughts in my mind that I just wanted to punch him in the face. He wasn’t fighting back! I had no fear. He was mortified only because I was embarrassing him. Just like my own family who cares more about their name than the truth of what has occurred. He cared more that I embarrassed him than anything he did.
I wanted to punch him. I felt the strength to punch him even though my muscle disease was already showing symptoms and I was diagnosed only a short time later with the disease. I looked at him with his glasses on and thought I could not punch a man with glasses on. But I screamed about everything he did. The grocery store paused. They listened. They watched. I saw them but they were far away. It was just this man and me, him pinned against the wall. Me yelling out his crimes. He slipped sideways and ran out of the door to his car. I collapsed on the floor. Someone front he grocery store came to me and asked if I was ok. I was not. All of that adrenaline made me sure I was going to pass out. Once I was able to walk, I couldn’t even feel my body. I was a walking dead person. I had just confronted the man that had threatened my life, who had sexually assaulted me. I confronted him! I fought! I had fight!
I thought that my actions would fix the damaged parts that he inflicted. I thought that fighting back to him would heal the wounds that he left. I thought it would take the trauma away. It didn’t. I still have nightmares about him. I still have PTSD moments because of him. I still had to go to therapy to face the demons that haunted me from this man and what he did.
That moment taught me a lot. It does feel good to fight back. It feels powerful to take back your power and show that you are not weak. But it didn’t fix anything inside of me. So, confronting the man who abused me when I was child is no longer on the table. It was the words that this man said to me when he was against the wall that then haunted me. He blamed me. He demanded forgiveness. So if I confronted the childhood abuser it would be no different.
You cannot change an abuser. I am sure that there are many who have confronted their abusers and felt empowered and felt vindicated. I just didn’t.
Do you know why?
It no longer had anything to do with him. He wasn’t going to fix what he did to me. Fighting him, confronting him, was only part of the battle. The real battle was within myself. The real battle was not in confronting him at all. My battle after sexual abuse has been removing the shame, removing the guilt, confronting control, confronting the after affects of having that control taken away from me, learning to love myself again, and much more.
I am writing this because I believe many victims beat themselves up. The what ifs. Then the how can I fix this. What if I could confront this man. What if I could have fought back then. I have gone through it. I want to share what I have learned for myself through my experience.
He will always be a criminal, predator, sex offender. If I saw him again, any of them, I may have the urge to run up and scream from the rooftops HEAR ME! But I won’t. They just aren’t worth it. They aren’t worth one more moment. I can’t go back and fight everyone who has done me wrong. I cannot keep up with their words, defend myself, to others or to the abuser. NONE OF THEM ARE WORTH IT. Nothing will change them. The only person I can change is me.
The battle lies within myself. I choose to fight for myself instead of fighting others who care nothing about me and never will. I have to fight to love myself. I have to fight to accept myself. I have to fight to put the shame on the abuser and remove it from me. I am worth the fight. You are worth the fight. You deserve to regain your true self, your core self, without the layers of a criminal’s actions. Hey, there is a time to fight them. If you can fight them in court. If you can fight them during the event. I am simply reaching out to those who didn’t get a chance to fight to let you know that if you did get that chance, it may not give you the peace you are looking for. Sometimes peace can only come from within and can not be found yelling at an abuser in a grocery store.
We each have our own path to recovery and healing. It is my hope that nomatter which path you choose, your inner peace comes first.