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Stuck in limbo

By Grace Bargar

      I remember the day my parents told my therapist. It was hard enough for me to tell my own parents. I dismissed it telling myself I deserved it. It happens to everyone.

      I left the room when they told her. Anger welled up in my throat as I felt my cheeks begin to burn. I regretted my choice to tell them. I resented them for telling her. And half a year later, I hear my therapist prodding at me with her words, aware of  my deliberate attempts to avoid her question. Do you want to talk about it? It was always the same answer. No. Thanks for asking, but it’s not a big deal. I’m just angry about it. I wasn’t even physically assaulted. The truth is, the obvious decline in my mental state was caused in part by what had happened to me. She knew it, and was trying to get through to me. But admitting that she was right was like accepting that I was a victim. I didn’t want to be a victim: victims are painted as self-loathing creatures, only emerging from the darkest depths of their minds to beg for pity and validation. I didn’t want to be seen as weak. This continues to be one of my biggest insecurities. 

      For a long time, I blamed the harassment on myself. I allowed myself to be victimized. He stalked me for months before I reported it to anyone. But how could I have known that when I blocked him, he would reach out to my friends? How could I have known he would find new ways to contact me, making new accounts just to reach out? Why wasn’t my no good enough? Why did he continue to push, bombarding me with explicit threats and gaslighting me when I stood up for myself? Ignoring him didn’t work, he would blow up my phone with hundreds of texts. He kept me on edge, every couple of months he would find me again. It was a constant barrage of manipulation and threats. I’ll cut myself if you leave me. It’s all your fault. He assured me the consequences could be fatal if I left. So I isolated myself, afraid to drag others into the situation. I didn’t want to bring anybody with me when my will finally gave way. Hence, I kept quiet, unintentionally handing what little power I possessed back to him.

      I don’t try to hide what happened to me anymore. Initially, I was too scared of being labeled as ‘violated’ to be able to have honest conversations and move forward. I tried to overcome the ways I let fear control my life, but in order to do so, you have to address the past, explained my therapist. Instead of taking her advice, I filled my therapy sessions with empty problems to try to make sense of my emotions on my own time. I buried my frustration in a shallow grave and tried to block out my anger. My mental health began to deteriorate as I refused to acknowledge the failure of my poorly calculated plan, and my obsessive tendencies returned to haunt me. You’re looking at short term solutions to temporarily numb your pain, my therapist reminded me. The relief they provide is short lived. I fell into a pattern of rumination in which the only thing I could picture was him clawing at my clothes, grabbing at my body as he tore fabric from my bruised fingers. I desperately tried to grasp what tattered remains of my clothes were left.

      I’m doing better now. My fears are still present, but not impossible to bare, and I’m slowly moving forward. I never got the resolution I’d hoped for, though. In my head, I saw him going to jail and rotting in prison. I’d be able to tell him everything before he was locked up: how he made me feel scared to wear skirts, how I couldn’t sleep at night because his words were parading around in my head. I knew this was unrealistic, so I settled for a warning on his permanent record. Something to stain his otherwise spotless reputation. All I got was an apology from his father, addressed to my parents. Apparently, he felt bad for what his son had done to me and seven other girls. 

      I’m stuck in limbo between wanting some sense of relief, and knowing nothing more will come from the situation but anger. Days pass as I linger on my decision, and I see the people I love the most heal and move forward. Life continues to pass, and I’m still stuck in the past lamenting a situation I can no longer control. And slowly, I realize: I can’t bring myself to move on.



If you need help, please click the link below

If you have been sexually assaulted, it’s important to get medical attention and to report it to the police. If you have any questions or need support call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or chat online.

Anytime you are in crisis you can call or chat with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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