This is an guest post from a wonderful friend of mine.
I was walking towards my mum’s yesterday when someone tapped me on the shoulder, while saying my name. As I turn, he steps back. He asks if I remember him, says it’s been a while and tells me his name.
I didn’t recognise him at first. But a second or two after I hear the name I do. It’s the guy who I was once friends with who wanted to have sex with me so much that he ignored my lack of consent.
We actually have a conversation… of sorts. How is that?
Internally I think I’m wondering how I feel about it all. And I want to know what he’ll say… Sorry? I admit it? Anger that I called the police? What?
I’m watching him and feeling nothing. Nothing that I can place. But yet I’m shaking. I know what I’m not feeling – no fear, no anger, no hate, no revulsion – forgiveness worked for me then! but I do not know what I am feeling. Once you let it go, what’s it replaced with?
It’s been 9 or 10 years.
Do you know what he says to me?
“I haven’t spoken to you for years. I know it went a bit wrong. I can’t remember why though”
Really?????? You forget what you did? Getting arrested. Denying it all. Calling it consensual.
He goes on to say “maybe we can talk it through and bury the hatchet”.
The words “…In your head…?” Bounce about in my head. I’ve still got that smile on my face I get when faced with any uncomfortable situation. I’m weird like that.
He keeps himself far away from me. As if he is respectfully / cautiously aware of the fact that I really may not want him anywhere near me. His body language is submissive, passive and open – kind of like “I’m not carrying anything”. He’s kind of bowing slightly. I notice all of this, I’m known for not usually noticing anything like this! For someone who doesn’t remember raping me, he’s trying very hard to make me feel at ease and to appear… safe.
I think I was still standing there because I was wondering if he’s changed. In these years past I’ve changed in various ways. People change. Has he? He answers my unvoiced question by standing up straight, submission forgotten briefly, and saying “you look really good” with that look of lust that regardless of generation, ethnicity, shape, size or status yes all women have experienced. I know that nothing has changed. He’d do it again. He has no desire to control his desires and my opinion doesn’t matter.
He offers his number and I take it because I think that when shock has passed I might have something to get off my chest – I might really tell him off maybe – but the morning after there is still nothing to be said and that feels wonderful.
I am totally surprised by my response having spent a significant amount of time for a good couple of years thinking about what I’d do if I see him again.
It’s now quite likely I’ll see him again. He says he’s often in a place very close proximity to my mum’s. I would ask him not to speak to me if he did again.
When I left my mum’s I felt watched. I probably wasn’t. I didn’t want to leave there with my daughter. I was relieved I wasn’t with her when he approached as I think I’d have been fiercely protective of her, not wanting her to be tainted by engaging with a rapist.
I’m not sure why I was not also that protective of myself. Is it because I’ve already been raped? Or because I’m curious to a fault; to the extent that it overrode my fight/flight urge? Or because I am not as bothered about me as I am about her?
I put my hand out to shake his hand. How do you end an unexpected encounter with the man who raped you? He hugs me. I don’t feel as dirty as the last time he touched me, but I really wish I’d rejected it. I’m not beating myself up about that… like the last time he touched me. I think he may have taken some meaning from the fact that I didn’t pull away. Like reconciliation, like he’s made his peace with me. But he doesn’t know my mantra. Forgiveness doesn’t have to mean reconciliation. Especially when the person is not safe / hasn’t changed or repented in the biblical sense. To which I can add Especially when he is a rapist. Forgiveness stops what he did from getting in the way of God and me.
What he did is between him and God. I’m free. 🙂