When You See Them Outside

Coping when you run into someone you never want to see again

More stories from Sabrina Ftouhi

Unlearn Everything
November 1, 2023

The person that deserves your rage is the one that knows exactly what they did.

Sensitive Content Warning: This story contains topics such as sexual assault and rape.

Being in public and seeing the person that once violated you is like a slap in the face with a metal baseball bat. 

Who gave that person the right to go about living their life guilt free while you are sitting in a hollow shell of a body? 

The anthropological definition for agency is the ability for an individual to have free will over their choices and actions. In my opinion, being given the option to report can give survivors agency, and that is precious. 

Let’s just get this out of the way now. If you have been sexualy assaulted and chose not to report, that is your business and your business only

With that being said, if you see your assaulter somewhere in public, please know that you have options

You are within your rights to leave if you’re uncomfortable. Hopefully you have a solid friend or friends with you — these situations will show you who your true friends are.

If you wish to confront your assaulter, you’re also within your right to do so. I only ask that you make sure that you’re in a safe space. 

Don’t be afraid to make a scene. If you’re being followed, do whatever you have to do to draw other people’s attention towards you.

Breathing exercises, meditation and breathwork aren’t for everyone, but looking up some basic grounding meditations on YouTube will give you the tools you need to recenter yourself on the go.

If your assaulter appears to be with a partner, please try your best to realize that the other person is probably just as in the dark as most people.

The person who deserves your rage is the one that knows exactly what they did. 

Most importantly, always validate your feelings.

You are not the reason your body feels numb during sex now.

You did not consent just because you froze.

And it’s not your fault for being drunk or high. You have every right to party hard without regretting your actions for something that was done to you.

It is not your fault. It never will be. 

Last semester I had the opportunity to out someone that had sexually assaulted me as well as a fellow peer. Even though I stand by my choice, part of me wishes I would have said something.

Not that any survivor owes you an explanation, but some of us simply don’t feel like retraumatizing ourselves. Who honestly likes rehashing events from years ago?

My current circumstances are unfortunate, but the silver lining is to take advantage of this opportunity that I turned down last semester.

Statistics show that almost 40% of sexual violence perpetrators are acquaintences. 

On June 7, 2021 a resident of Eau Claire raped me in the safety and security of my own bedroom. I knew him before that.

For a while I invalidated what really happened to me. I told myself that we just didn’t have a safe word, and that me withdrawing consent three separate times must have somehow confused him. 

I resorted to digging my nails into his leg, which stopped him because he said it really hurt. I felt bad for doing it. 

After he stopped he proceeded to gather his things, stating that he felt “very traumatized” about what just happened and he needed to “take time to gather his thoughts”. His actions were pathetic and his knowledge of what he had done was clearly there. 

In the past three months, I have run into him a handful of times. He first started showing up at my place of work and whenever my friends and I would go out, he’d be there. 

The weekend previous to me writing this, I ran into him at a function. He was two feet away. 

When you see your assaulter everywhere, it makes healing that much harder, and getting this out there is a part of my journey.

To my assaulter, I hope someone shows you this, and I hope your life feels a little more miserable. 

To survivors, your trauma is completely valid. Don’t let a run in with your abuser take your personal power away from your healing journey. 

Lots of hugs, Sabrina Ftouhi.

Ftouhi can be reached at [email protected].