Out of Sight but Not Out of Mind

For years one of my biggest fears regarding sexual assault is the idea of seeing N again. I haven’t seen him since I realized that he sexually assaulted me. I haven’t seen him since I realized the full scale of what he did to me. I haven’t seen him since his past actions belatedly changed my world. The thought of seeing him again has consumed me for years. This fear has shown up in my dreams many times.

I think the last time I saw him was the summer of 2012 — a year after we dated. I went to an event that I knew he would be at, thinking it’d be just fine. The event itself wasn’t all that fun, and being in the same room as him was pretty uncomfortable for me. I ended up leaving early.

A year later was the last time I ever heard from him. Now there’s a weird story! He called (I didn’t answer) and texted something wildly inappropriate in the middle of the night. My guess is that he was drunk… Anyway, I pretended I didn’t recognize the number and told him to never contact me again.

Fast forward to the summer of 2014. I was on my way to a local concert by someone who N graduated with. I knew the chances of him being there were slight, but I still got very nervous. I got sick of being bothered by my past, so I wrote a letter to myself. A few weeks later, I wondered if he would be at the grad party of someone we both know. I got so nervous at the thought of seeing him again that I ran a red light. No harm done — thank goodness. Then I realized that the two of them barely know each other and that I had nothing to worry about in the first place.

Fast forward again to the summer of 2015. My boyfriend’s best friend (S) goes to the same college as N. They are in the same year and both have been involved in theater. When I heard that some people from S’s college would be at his birthday party, I had to ask if he knew N and if N would be there. Thankfully S has never even heard of him. Phew!

And then we have last weekend. My boyfriend and I went to see S in a play. Before going, I asked S if N would be in the play. Thankfully, he wasn’t. I’m not sure I would’ve gone if I would be forced to be in the same room as him for two hours. No thank you. I still couldn’t help but be a little anxious, though. The moment I walked into the theater, my eyes swept the audience to see if N was there. I kept my eyes peeled during intermission and after the play as well. I just couldn’t help it. It didn’t help that after the play, I kept on thinking I saw him. It wasn’t all that bad, but it did put a bit of a damper on the night.

I’m not sure what would happen when/if I see him again. There are a few possibilities:

  • If I’m in a good mental state when it happens, I might just get profoundly uncomfortable. I feel like this is the most likely situation, especially given what happened with N’s doppelganger
  • I get completely freaked out, but pretend to be okay until I get out of there. This also seems very likely.
  • I lose my shit. I just get scared out of my mind and can’t hide it. That seems less likely.
  • By far the least likely, but definitely the most fun to fantasize about: I march up to him and call him out on his shit.

The good news is that I think he would leave me alone if we did see each other again. We’ve seen each other three to five times since breaking up and have only spoken once (besides that conversation over text I that I mentioned earlier). Besides, even if he did try to talk with me, I feel like I could handle it. It’s comforting knowing that I no longer have anything to fear from him. I’m more scared of the thought and memory of him than anything.

Thank you for reading this article. You can find my backstory here.

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