Girl Holding Her Knees

TW: Overcoming Being Sexually Harassed by My Girlfriend's Dad

*Trigger warning: this article mentions sexual harassment, anxiety and panic attacks

Writing this article, I hope to grow from sharing my experience. I hope that I can validate my own emotions. And maybe someone needs to see this and feel less alone—because that is the worst feeling in the world to me. And that's what it felt like.

I was the only person in the room who could feel his hand on my leg. At that moment, I was alone, yet I was sitting right across from a friend, who I know would've done something if I reacted. There were drinks that came and went. The heavy eyes and foggy vision were felt amongst all of the people in the room. At that moment, there was nothing that I could say or do. The shock and disgust that rushed through my body froze me. I had never felt this mix of emotions before. I couldn't scream, I couldn't move his hand, I was stuck. It felt like quicksand. There is such a movie-like quality to the scene every time that it plays in my head. But I can feel everything that I'm watching. And for a while, I watched that movie every day when I saw my girlfriend. It was hard to ignore, but I felt the need to. I ignored my experience so that she wouldn't have to feel the guilt that I know crushed her. 

woman leaning on door looking out onto the city Photo by Kinga Cichewicz from Unsplash

She was the person who picked me up off the couch and took me to bed. She was the one who held me all night. She made me feel safe as I slept in a room down the hall from him. When I woke up, it smelled like breakfast and a beautiful Sunday morning. And it was until the movie started playing in my head. A movie that left me speechless and frozen—no voice and no body. But as it played, I was able to mask how terrifyingly alone it made me feel. We had no car, so it was up to him when to take us home. All I could do was play along with the perfect family breakfast that was happening in front of me. So I did that until it was time to hop out of the truck and walk back to my dorm. I was ready to breakdown right there outside. It felt like the longest elevator ride of my life. I couldn't even think about telling my girlfriend, but I knew that needed to be a priority. Every thought was sporadic, and I wasn't fully present all morning. I was so close to being able to shut my door and breathe. 

Telling my girlfriend was hard, watching her physically vomit from the news was even harder. As soon as I told her, I felt a bit of the weight fall off my shoulders. Being the only one that knew what happened to me was unbearable. She comforted me and made sure that I knew she was there, willing to do whatever I was comfortable with. 

Nothing felt right. I didn't know my next move. I felt comfortable knowing that he would have to live with what he did. But as time goes on, I feel that maybe someday I might feel like he deserves more than that. Because I have to listen to my girlfriend and her family say his name. And I have to watch that movie every time it happens. It is a situation where only time has improved. Unfortunately, there might be a lot of women who have had a moment like this—unable to do anything about a trauma that causes so much pain. That pain is uniquely yours. Not knowing the next step is okay until you feel it isn't anymore. Time, meditation and recognizing when I am triggered have helped me get to where I am now. It's a movie that doesn't play that often anymore. Tell your story when you need to tell it. That is what I'm doing here. I hope that reading this, you hear my story and gain some awareness, empathy or knowledge.