TW: Rape, sexual violence, abuse, sexism
I know the right thing to do is to pursue justice. But all my life, what I’ve known to be true is that moving on requires a lot of space, time and personal growth. Pursuing justice will stunt this. Pursuing justice will take up all the space in my mind. That’s space I could be using to grow. The process will delay my healing by re-traumatizing me with each thought. The process itself is a reminder of what he did to me. The more I’m forced to defend, the further I’ll drift away from peace.
I will no longer be in control of the narrative. My story, my truth, is the only truth there is at the moment. Pursuing justice will enable my truth to be twisted. My story will be exploited and used against me. It will no longer be the only truth. I will have to hear his version. His calculated victimization. His avoidance of responsibility. His denial. I know what happened, but his words will make me doubt myself. He and his lawyer will gaslight me until I don’t know what is real.
Fuck “likable”. I want to be bold. I want to speak out.
There are those out there who are actually going to believe him. Some already do. Some are right there in his corner, cheering on a rapist. I won’t have to think about their existence unless I choose to pursue justice. Just the thought of them alone makes me sick to my stomach, but if I go forward, I’ll actually have to witness them in person. I wouldn’t have to do that if I just keep my mouth shut.
They will judge and speak against my sister and me. I will have to sit silently and watch as a sleazy lawyer berates my sister knowing that there’s no way for me to protect her from this. I will have to appear calm, collected, and “likable” to a jury. Fuck “likable.” I want to be bold. I want to speak out. I want to proclaim my disgust for the misogynistic system that allows lawyers to harass, slut shame and retraumatize rape victims in order to twist reality so they can win their dirty money and continue to allow a rapist to rape. I’ll want to scream “SHAME ON YOU ALL”. But I won’t.
On top of all this, he will be there observe my weakness, my vulnerability, and my anger as a result of his actions. He will be pleased to see me struggling, because he believes I deserve it all for daring to challenge him. I can’t let him have that. There’s no room for shaken confidence. Allowing him to see me that way is not an option, lest I risk the sight of his smug grin or the sound of his condescending chuckle. Either would haunt me for a lifetime.
Equally, I’d also like to make it known to predators that we will not stay silent despite everything that seems to discourage us from speaking up.”
My only hope is that this sacrificial experience will save others around him, but I’m not even sure it will. What if I endure all of this only for the system to say “We don’t believe you” or “He has more money.” The truth doesn’t always prevail. It’s usually the better lawyer. Although his lawyer is mediocre at best, “qualified” in our society often just means “white and male”.
I want to pursue justice not only for me, but to send a message to others like me. There’s the possibility that I could show survivors that we can overcome this bullshit. Equally, I’d also like to make it known to predators that we will not stay silent despite everything that seems to discourage us from speaking up. If you commit a crime, you should answer for it no matter how wealthy or connected you are. If you violate consent, you should be held accountable, which may mean your life is now “ruined”. But remember that you are the one who ruined your life, because you chose to act violently. I don’t care if the system makes it easy for you to get away with it, I want to fight until the truth is known.
I feel I need to persist. I’m sick of predators feeling as if they can just walk away from their crimes while their victims are expected to deal with the psychological effects for years and years after. If they get away with it once, they will continue this pattern. All of the abusive men I’ve known have abused several others before I knew them. They will continue because nothing is done. We’ve seen it happen time and time again. Because as a society, we’re more concerned with protecting the accused than the well-being of the oppressed. We see these patterns so often that they’re dismissed. I want to contribute to changing this pattern. But I don’t know if I can. I know I want to be strong enough, but I don’t know if I am.
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