I confronted an abuser in the grocery store. It didn’t fix anything.

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. 

33 thoughts on “I confronted an abuser in the grocery store. It didn’t fix anything.

  1. Oh baby girl I’m so proud of you. I’m so proud of you. I love you!! You are the most beautiful person I have ever met. I just love you. You are so brave and full of courage. You keep moving forward no matter what and I’m so proud of you!!

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  2. Thank you for sharing this! Wow! You did what so many have only obsessed about doing. I agree that it often doesn’t change much. I usually work with people on their expectations prior to confronting an abuser. So often it is a confusing, anticlimactic experience that leaves them wanting…and that’s if confronting them goes well. Thank you again for the courage to share about your experiences.

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    • I think it is good to work on expectations for everything. If you write your mom a letter. What do you expect? What do you want back? Is she capable of giving it or does she even want to?
      Because if you write the letter just to get it off your own back and don’t plan on what will come after and are able to toss the letter you get back in the garbage…..well….it should just be a thought out process I agree, where a person thinks about what will happen based on what they do. This experience was a not thought out, run into an abuser in a grocery store, let loose! But I learned a lot from it so I would not change it. It gave me perspective and insight on what I really want, need, and what my intention is

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      • Definitely! I usually walk them through the danger of unmet expectations as well as secondary trauma. It is amazing that you were able to confront him with it being such an unplanned and unexpected encounter. Most would have been so triggered that they would have fled or froze! It speaks to your strength and how far you’ve come

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      • His was a one time trauma. I cannot say I would have reacted the same way to the man who abused me throughout my childhood. But now I know I don’t even WANT to. So I would walk away.
        Thanks for your thoughts and encouragement.
        Secondary trauma sucks. I was just discussing this exact topic with my husband. When an individual is raped or assaulted your have that trauma right there. THEN layer upon layer of who believes you, who does not, did you report it in time, did you give enough details, does he go to trial, does your family believe you, your friends, are you shamed, blamed. So it becomes this massive ball of somethign that SHOULD have been quite simple. A crime commited. A victim supported. Period end of story. But all too often, which is why I started this blog. We live in the layers of secondary victimization by all of those other people. Sorting through that crap takes years. But it is those of us willing to fight to recover and learn coping skills that I hope can come together here and support each other.

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  3. I am sorry that you had to go through with the original situation and that this one didn’t resolve the way you hoped it would. Having been through my own situations I can say I think if I did this then maybe that wouldn’t have happened, but we have no way of knowing how things might have turned out differently. Confronting them won’t change the situation, but it may or may not make us feel better. I tried confronting mine. It didn’t change anything on his side and I am still trying to forgive. Some days I feel no progress has been made at all and maybe never will. Should I confront him again? Why? If the first few times made no difference why should the next. He isn’t going to change because we were hurt. I feel for you, can understand briefly I don’t know your whole story, but I do know that confronting the past doesn’t seem to help. All I can do is learn to forgive myself because I blame myself as well.

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    • Oh how awful. I am so sorry that that was the outcome. I have learned they won’t change. That is why talking to my family will do nothing. To repeat the same mistake and hope for a different outcome would just be me abusing myself in reality because these people will not change. If they would have then they would be knocking on MY door. And THEY would be apologizing. Even if they did I wouldn’t trust them. That much betrayal runs deep.
      I don’t think about forgiveness. That puts more on me to do when I did nothing in the first place. I work on cutting the ties emotionally and physically as best as I can. But each person has their own path of what helps them move forward. Some swear by forgivness. That is just not my cup of tea.
      I am so sorry you blamed yourself. I’m sure you’ve been told this before and me saying it again will just be something you didn’t ask me to say advice wise but I feel the need to tell you that what a criminal did to you is NOT YOUR FAULT> and there is no blame or shame on you for something someone else chose to do.

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      • You are wise Bethany. Thank you. Still working on how to deal with things that happened when I was a teenager. I am 60 now. Not working so well. I am stuck and I go to therapy every week. I have so many issues and now this physical pain on top of it all. I am scared of what is coming physically. My anxiety is roaring out of control right now.

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      • I am 45. Still processing things from when I was 11. But to be honest I really didn’t even start processing them until I became aware of the gravity of them and the contributors that played parts in the abuse.
        I can’t say I understand completely because iknow we have different stories. But I do have a muscle disease and Lyme disease and both have created extreme pain in my body. Dealing with pain is …complicating….it is triggering just that alone. Anything that brings about helplessness or fear of helplessness is not a good thing for me. Then came the seizures but i think that the meds have that under control. Just know my heart is REALLY going out to you and i hear you and i hear your pain and i am just so so sorry you are going through this.
        And anxiety…..anxiety is freaking awful!

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      • As if things aren’t bad enough, I have Fibromyalgia which flares up from the stress from the pain I am going through. Arthritis, Degenerative Disk Disease and Fibro. Such a lovely combo on the physical side. Then bipolar, anxiety and panic and PTSD on the mental side. It is like they didn’t know what to do with all this stuff and thought maybe I would enjoy it. Geessh. Oh and we can’t forget the Diabetes and I am insulin dependent. This isn’t complicated enough.

        11 is so young to have to deal with abuse like that. What do we know at 11?

        We all have something we are dealing with. I think anxiety is like making everything worse. It affects us both physically and mentally.

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  4. Well, he won’t be shopping at that grocery store again! You were very brave. I would say 99% of abusers never feel bad or apologize. They see people as objects – things to use for their ugly desires.

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