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Nov 05 2016
by Rachel Loia

To the Person Who Sexually Harassed Me

By Rachel Loia - Nov 05 2016
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To the person who sexually harassed me,

You don't think what you did was wrong. You think I overreacted. You're mad at me; probably claiming I'm not as "chill" as you thought. Well, you're right about the last one. I'm not "chill" about the way someone treats me. I was picked on a lot as a kid by everyone around me, so no, I don't stay calm when someone crosses a line with me. I have spent too much time making excuses for people who make me feel weak so they can feel powerful. I couldn't continue telling myself to keep my mouth shut or that people will think I say too much. After dealing with this for so long though, I don't think I say enough. 

What you don't know is how it impacted me. For weeks I have been having nightmares about you touching me when I told you no. There are bags under my eyes so dark that I can pass them off as leftover makeup from the previous day. I still hear the personal questions you asked me about my body in my head over and over. Memories of you giving me a massage without asking sometimes sends me into a tailspin if I think about it enough. You kept telling me my back felt so tense and that I stress too much about school, but I was only like that because your hands were on me. When you lingered in the bathroom my skin would crawl. Why didn't you just leave it alone? 

You scared me and that was not a feeling I wanted. The vulnerability you caused me was not something I gave you permission to do. In fact, I told you no. I tried to ward you off so many times that I can't remember why I even bothered in the first place.

I didn't lead you on either. From the moment we met I made it clear I did not return the attraction. I felt bad because I know what it feels like to like someone who doesn't feel the same. The problem is that when I shot you down, and explained how I'm not affectionate and don't like to be touched, you took that as a challenge. As if I was some land to conquer. I couldn't go anywhere without being frightened. Sometimes I still can't. 

And to make things clear: I wasn't targeting you. If it was anyone else doing this to me I would feel the same way. You invaded my personal space and stripped away any personal boundaries I thought I had. 

But I don't hate you. I actually have spent most of my life not taking sexual harassment as seriously as I should have. I was ignorant and didn't know the way it truly affected people. Now I'm grateful that you showed me how scary it can be. How dehumanizing it is. When I hear the cries of people who have been sexually traumatized I have the ability to understand to some degree what they are feeling and how it can affect other aspects of their lives. I'm even guilty that I didn't take it as seriously as I should have before. 

The thing about our situation is it didn't get too bad. I let someone know. I reached out for help. And I'm not writing this to persuade people to my side. There are no sides. I forgive you, whether you're sorry or not. At the end of the day there are no grudges worth holding. You showed me so much in such little time that I feel as though I have become a better person. I hope you have too. 

I don't wish you the worst either. I don't want you to burn in Hell. I just want you to understand that it did hurt me. It affected me in a way I didn't know I could be affected and it sucked. 

And I don't know how you truly feel, but for my own sake I'd like to think you're sorry. I'll never know though because I don't want to speak to you. I do hope you the best though. 

And for better or worse, I hope you can forgive yourself. 

Sincerely, 

Me

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Rachel Loia - Ramapo College

Rachel is a freshman studying biology at Ramapo College of New Jersey. She also loves writing and uses it as an excuse to not do schoolwork. Instagram: @rachloia

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