These shadows of mine

March 20, 2017


Deep breath. 

This is hard. 

I’m sitting here in bed staving off huge panic and it’s just me and a blank screen. There’s no one here. I’m not using my voice, and maybe that’s part of the problem, but I can still hear myself throughout my body screaming at me to stop. To shut up. To forget it and carry on.

But it’s about time I said some things because I cannot keep doing this again and again. I cannot keep feeling like this again and again. I cannot keep my mouth shut in fear again and again. 

I feel a hypocrite. My career is based on giving young people empowerment and a strong, brave voice, to stand up for themselves and encourage them to realise they deserve the best. And while I can speak explicitly about my mental health, I’ve never been able to talk about my experiences of abuse. How does that work? One directly links the other. 

Another deep breath.

I won’t detail the abuse here. If that’s what you’re looking for, you can leave now. I won’t judge you. Because I get it, I really do. The abuser this is about (because no, there’s not just one) is relatively well known and the rumour mill churns and turns. People love it, right? The gossip. The speculation. The entitlement of opinion and knowing. 

My abuse is gossip. It’s so very public. People seem to know more about it than I do. 

Do they? Do I have it all wrong? Am I lying? Did I dream it? Am I a bad person? Am I in my area of work to try and make up for it? Am I a fraud?

These strangers seem to understand what happened and I, exposed on the front line, do not understand what happened all those years ago. Not a little, not at all.

I’ve very rarely spoken publicly about this. I’ve never wanted to. 

Is that ok? Is that allowed? Or am I weak?

But the guilt whenever something new comes up, when my timelines are flooded with talk about this person, and I don’t say anything, I don’t stand up for myself or the others involved, eats away at me. The denial and protection I’ve smothered my memories in is beaten and eroded, and one day it’s going to be fully exposed once again and destroy me.

At least, that’s what it feels like.

This person emailed me about a month ago now. This is really what I want to talk about. This is where I will defend myself and try to be strong. 

Deeper breath.

Out of the blue, an email in many paragraphs saying one thing: sorry. Nothing more, nothing less.

When I saw his name, my body dissolved. I was with my boyfriend and two friends. My boyfriend read the email first. There was little reaction. Boredom, if anything. The email was pointless. I read it and felt the same. 

I read it again, and once more, and did not feel the same. Because no matter how fragile I feel, how fearful I am, how tightly I wrap myself in cotton wool when it comes to the abuse, I suddenly found strength. I found power and tools to rip that fucking email apart. 

The email began with an apology for emailing in the first place, and a wish to cause no more upset. 

But, obviously, he had to email anyway. Abusers have to put your feelings, your whole being, aside and assert their power in any given situation. 

I’ll make this clear. If you have even an inkling that you may cause some upset to a person by getting in touch, especially a victim of your abuse, whether you believe you abused them or not, you do not fucking email them. You leave them be. You do not decide to step back into their life and remind them of your being. You do not put your wants first. That behaviour is not growth. It is not a kindness. 

I won’t dissect the rest of the email here because there’s no point. It really was a boring mess with no substance. There was nothing for me in it, this email was all for him. 

I blocked this person, finally - some evidence of strength, a while ago on every social media platform, by phone, and by email. He would have known this. That is, correct me if I’m wrong, strong evidence that a person does not want to know of your existence and vice versa, let alone contact. 

Nevertheless, he found a new email address for me. He found a way through. Well done, him. Congratulations. How jubilant he must have felt knowing he could get a wet apology through to me to make himself feel better. 

Yes, my body went into panicked shock when that email came through but I managed to tear it apart, be angry instead of scared, and block him once again pretty damn fucking quickly. 

Deep breath, and hold.

But why, then, am I still upset, exhausted, and feeling unable to join in on the conversations with other victims, other witnesses, defending our stories and whole beings? Why do I feel tiny? Why do I feel like a fraud? Why am I punishing myself? Why can’t I take control? Why can’t I be strong? Why do I let strangers on the internet take control of my story to fit their gossip? 

Why do I think it would be better if I snuck away, never to be seen again? Why do I think it would be easier if I just… left.

Why am I exhausted with anger towards myself and the rumour mill instead of him. 

It’s an odd feeling, feeling totally alone and defenceless when your story - your story - is so public and popular. 

I’ve stayed silent for so long on this subject that I feel I’ve given up all rights to my experience. It’s so tainted now, so grubby with so many hands all over it. Never once have I taken it back to clean it up. 

Like it could ever be cleaned up. 

I won’t ever receive public support, an outpouring of love, defence, and kindness, because I’ve stayed in the shadows for far too long. I will always just be the girl who her best friend’s boyfriend cheated with. Nameless, faceless. And for some reason, to me, that sounds far worse than the girl who was sexually and emotionally abused by a powerful, public figure. 

What a horrible, disgusting reality that is. 

I am strong. I am brave, I am courageous. But I am vulnerable. This is my Achilles’ heel.

And exhale.

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3 comments

  1. So honest and powerful. Please try not to see 'inaction' as a failure, this is the one thing you have power over and by taking steps in processing and recovering, you are being an amazing role model to anyone who has gone through something similar. Remember there is never one route to take and however you choose to handle it is absolutely fine. Also keep in mind that vulnerability isn't necessarily a weakness and with time it can become a great strength. Stay strong x

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  2. This is truly truly beautiful. So raw and honest and I admire you so much for the strength and courage this took.
    Sending you love,
    Hayley X

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  3. I've read your blogs for a while and I just wanted to tell you that I think you are an amazing, brave lady. I admire your courage x.

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