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Mental Health

A Letter To My Sexual Harasser

To the guy who made me feel bad for existing for any other reason than myself. This is a letter that has taken four years to write. It has taken me four years to truly process the damage you have done. This is a letter is dedicated to you.



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I was young. I was naive. I was excited by the idea of anyone finding me likable and attractive. We met in what was meant to be a safe environment for teens to grow up in. You, at the time, were about two years older than me. You had graduated and were now in a completely different stage of life than I. I was still in high school.

You made sure that you spoke to me every chance you got, that every single conversation boiled down to my worth to a man. It all revolved around my body and how my behavior encouraged you and begged you to come for me. I was so extremely uncomfortable but I didn’t know how to say no. How do I say no to someone who shares mutual friends and acquaintances? How do I say no when I didn’t even understand what was happening to me? So I didn’t, though I felt like I was compromising myself.

This interaction lasted about a month. I’m not sure if you had romanticized me so much in that month that you felt that there was something between us. Eventually, I made my stand and said no. I stopped going to the safe space as often as I used to. Being at the so-called “safe space” all the time meant being around you since you were there all the time, despite it being meant for high school kids.

Months went by. I had forgotten all about my experience of being “friends” with you and how uncomfortable you made me. Then, you made a shocking reappearance into my life. You texted me out of the blue. I’m sure the text was sporadic. I know you must have thought about finally talking to me and planned it out in your head. To you, I was no longer a person with emotions or a life. I was something for you to win so you could feel good about yourself. You kept texting even after I displayed discomfort.

“Ok I like you and want your ‘service’,” you sent.

You didn’t hesitate to proposition me, an underaged girl. You didn’t hesitate to steal my peace of mind. I had come to understand that any stranger could harass me, but I never expected it from someone I knew who ran in the same circles I did.

I should have known though. You didn’t stop there. After repeatedly playing dumb then eventually saying no to avoid a terrible conversation, you begged me and guilted me into interacting with you. You made me feel like I had somehow caused this myself. I wish I knew then what I know now. I should have just blocked you. How could I have known? This type of thing should have never happened. I was in a safe space. I was underaged. I don’t know what empowered you to do such a thing. It took me another couple of months to understand what you did was wrong. When I finally reported you, I felt like I was the one who was under fire.

You were no longer legally allowed to be in that safe space after I reported you. I didn’t want any kind of problem, but I knew what had happened was wrong. Everyone, even my friends from that group, looked at me. Rumors were made about me. They implied that I asked for it just because I said no too late. 

I never went back to that place again after that. I lost touch with my friends. I would dissect every interaction leading up to this, trying to figure out if it was my fault somehow. I would grow to have extreme social anxiety. I had extreme distrust towards anyone who wanted to be with me romantically. I didn’t even know what it really meant until a year ago. I treated the whole situation like it was nothing. I ignored my feelings and dissociated for a very long time. 

Now, four years later, I’m finally understanding what happened. I’m finally feeling all the emotions I should have. I’m healing. I’m growing and letting go so I can regain my sense of peace. I’m writing this for anyone who wanted to say no but didn’t. I’m writing this for anyone who said no, but said no at a later time. You are valid and I see you. It will be okay.

Images: 1, 2, 3

Catherine is a student at the University of Central Florida. She is majoring in health administration with a minor in literature. She is a first generation Vietnamese women who hopes to use her writing both as a hobby and professionally. If you can't find her eating or studying, then she''ll be found curled up with her cat watching The Office.
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