A lot has happened since I last posted, both in my personal life and in the news. Most importantly, we have seen the downfall of 2 men who the world previously thought were untouchable: Bill Cosby and now, Harvey Weinstein. Like many others, the image of Harvey Weinstein coming out of the New York police station in handcuffs brought tears to my eyes.
Because these reckonings are a long overdue victory for survivors everywhere, giving us a tiny ray of hope that maybe the culture is finally starting to change. And in truth, it was survivors who made this happen. Not lawyers, police officers, or courtroom judges (although they of course played an important role). No, this victory belongs to every survivor who raised her voice, who went against all odds and told her truth time and again until the world was given no choice but to listen. And though it may have taken decades, those survivors were finally heard. Simply put, this victory has been a long time coming.
At the same time, I had a victory of my own not too long ago. As you may recall, I filed a complaint against my abuser at my school’s Title IX office back in December (yes, this case has actually taken almost 6 months, but that’s a story for another post). A couple of weeks ago, I had the long awaited meeting with Title IX where they would finally tell me their decision. Needless to say, I walked into that meeting feeling like I was going to throw up. Everything came down to this – the last 6 months of this absurd process (again, a story for another post) and the last 2.5 years of my life.
When they told me their decision, I was thinking the same thing we’ve all been thinking in regards to Weinstein and Cosby – that it’s about time. Because Title IX told me that they believed me over my abuser, and that they would be sanctioning him. As a result, it’s unlikely that he will finish medical school and get his MD – the one thing he wanted more than anything in the world. And hopefully, the world will be spared another Larry Nassar.
Shortly after my meeting, they had a separate meeting with my abuser to tell him the outcome. Although I wasn’t present, I know he walked into that meeting thinking he’d get away with this yet again. But he had another thing coming. And I hope that when they told him their decision, that his heart skipped a beat and his stomach dropped and every cell in his body felt threatened. I hope he felt one one-hundredth of the fear that I lived with every single day because of him.
Like Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein, my abuser thought he was invincible, and that the control he had over me was so everlasting that I would never break free. He thought his hold over me was so strong that I would never dare go against the one thing he tried to ingrain in me above all else: that no one would ever, ever believe me. But he was wrong. And as I later saw, his witness statement reflected this same egotism, narcissism, and arrogance. And fortunately, they saw right through it. I always knew his ego would be his downfall.
Now, there’s been a quite a few ironies and strange coincidences surrounding all of this – things that send shivers up your spine and you can’t help but wonder if they’re just circumstantial or something more. The week before I had the meeting with Title IX, I met Mariska Hargitay from SVU at a #TimesUp event (see the picture below). Although I wasn’t able to speak with her for very long, I told her that I would soon find out the outcome of my case against my abuser. She immediately pulled me in for a tight hug and told me that she would pray for me. Looking back, I can’t help but wonder if maybe this encounter was meant to happen, and if maybe her prayers really did make a difference.
Just to be clear, the battle is not over. My abuser has already appealed their decision and the case will go to a hearing. But I am ready for the fight. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself over the last year, it’s that I’ve got a lot of fight in me – more than my abuser ever realized.
Quite a while ago, a friend told me that my abuser couldn’t run forever. That one of these days, he would meet the wrong woman and she would hold him accountable. Although neither of us realized it at the time, he already did meet the wrong woman. It was me.