Shared Stories

“I ask of you to live with what you’ve done, like I’ll try to survive it for many years to come.”

By Berenice 

My abuser managed to send me an email through the only address I hadn’t blocked him from. Shaken by this, I wasn’t sure how to respond. He begged me to answer, asked for forgiveness, told me of his pain and his nightmares. Answering him on my private address seemed too personal, too intimate for a criminal. Posting this here gives me the space to talk without feeling like I’m just addressing my demons directly. I’m also tired of private apologies when publicly he’s seen as a cool guy and I’m the liar. So this is what I wrote in return.

The most difficult thing for me was burying you.

Once I managed to get myself out of my hole of misery, once I was able to go out without wanting to die, once I could manage during the day, the nights and the terrors came.

It’s nice enough they waited that long.

Flashbacks mostly, and I can manage that. I’ve had them every day since early morning on the 2nd of July 2017. They come when I hear a particular breathing, they come when my closest friends surprise me from behind, when someone touches my neck or just when I hear too much noise.

They come when I think I see you in a crowd.

No the worst wasn’t the nightmares, the worst was the dreams. The dreams where you weren’t the abuser. When you were my friend, my soul mate comforting me because something bad had happened to me. The ones with solar hugs solving everything and nothing. The ones where I would wake up happier than I’d been for a long time, only to realise after a second that it wasn’t the case. You can’t imagine how fucked up it is to dream you get along with the man who raped you. To wish it so deeply in your heart. To cry in your shower because you miss your friend, cry out of anger because he decided to take that away from you.

Mourning the loss of you was and still is difficult.

I live with PTSD, I live with depression, I heal and every now and then it’s bad, but I always get back up and I’m fucking proud of what I’ve achieved and the fact that I survived.

Two weeks ago I went to a gig in Brixton and I thought I’d seen you.

I had to leave. I cried so hard because of the time I’m missing, because of the many spaces you’ve taken away from me, because sometimes I’m weak. But this is nothing compared to being in class, surrounded by all those people who don’t know the old B, who don’t know what happened either and I have a panic attack right there and then because the name of an old friend I thought was dead appeared in my email.

You’re a persistent ghost, and I think you will always be with me whether I want it or not.

I live my life running away from any proof you still exist because I can’t bear to understand the truth: the one I once loved so deeply destroyed me with nothing but his will against mine, empty promises, and a shit load of fucking lies. And if I want to respect myself and survive, I can never see him again.

Plato said we’re just all halves of a whole, roaming the Earth in search of our other half, and although in moments of doubts I think ‘That’s it, I’ve found mine and he was so cruel to me I can never stand to see his face’, when I have hope..

When I have hope D, I don’t think of you.

When I think of a happy future, I don’t think of you.

When I think of love, I don’t think of you.

You’re the monster lurking in my darkest hours, you’re the friend I sometimes remember when I’m with others and we’re talking about uni, it’s bittersweet but I always keep it bland.

Even writing to you right now seems so surreal.

You belong to a life I was forced to leave behind, somewhere where I trusted people and most of all myself, somewhere where I didn’t need therapy and a support group to be sure I won’t end my life.

You ask if there is something you could do for me?

The worst is done and I’m not sure where this can go, but I think the best you could do is just wish me good luck. When I feel like I’m drowning, wish me the best.

In my first message to you, I asked you to please get some help, to educate yourself on consent and be sure never to do the same to another woman. I’m not sure you followed that.

Knowing you, you probably went in full denial until you were in too deep and were forced to accept reality. Maybe me pressing charges was that moment, if that’s the case, good, I intended it that way. It was never meant to hurt you like you hurt me and get revenge, that’s not who I am and you know it.

I’m never going to feel sorry for you, whether you’ve been through a lot or not.

This is not a contest but the difference between both of us is that you’re entirely guilty for the pain you’re feeling right now.

You’re also guilty for mine.

I ask of you to live with what you’ve done, like I’ll try to survive it for many years to come.

I ask of you never to do the same to someone else.

I ask of you to leave me be, doing it without you is now the only way.

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