New Year’s Eve is a bittersweet holiday for me. Like most people, I am reminded that this holiday symbolizes the chance for a fresh start and a new beginning. But for me, it’s also a reminder of the past – of the day my relationship began with my abuser. And somehow, today marks three years since that fateful night.
I am so, so grateful that it is not three years ago – the start of the year that changed my life forever. But I am also grateful that is not one year ago, the beginning of 2018. At this time last year, I decided to quit my neuroscience graduate program and dedicate my life to helping survivors, and to charge my abuser by filing a Title IX complaint against him at my University.
Looking back, I honestly do not know how I made it through this year. I knew of course that this would all be difficult; after all, I was completely starting over with my life while simultaneously trying to hold my abuser accountable. But this past year has tested me in ways I never thought possible – from the never ending job hunting, to dealing with the incompetent Title IX staff, there were many, many days when I simply wanted to give up (and of course, many nights when I screamed and cried into a pillow). Title IX, and the re-traumatization that inevitably resulted from it, dominated my life for three-quarters of this past year – giving my witness statement to the investigators, gathering evidence, tracking down my witnesses, preparing my impact statement, and of course, finally facing my abuser at the hearing. I felt like I was stuck between trying to move forward with my life, but being continuously pulled back into the trauma.
But despite the challenges of this past year, I must acknowledge that I was given some pretty amazing gifts along the way. I found a new job where I was not only able to start over with my career, but it also led to an amazing new friend who I was able to confide in. Though she may not realize it, she became an incredible source of strength for me throughout the Title IX process. I never could have asked for the kind of support she gave me and I am eternally grateful.
And of course, I was given the gift of winning my Title IX case. It is nothing short of a miracle that I made it through the process, and that I am one of the very few survivors who actually got justice (see my previous post). Despite everything I went through, I am one of the lucky ones.
As part of the Title IX process, I faced my abuser in a hearing and read my impact statement directly to him. The last line of my statement was that my abuser’s “Time was up.” And it is true. His career is over – he will never be able to get his medical degree and have the potential to abuse patients (one of the main reasons I went forward in the first place). And now, it is MY time. It’s my time to finally be free of him once and for all, to not have to be haunted by those memories and re-traumatized by the horrible process that is Title IX. It’s my time to truly live my life and begin again. I am done with being stuck in-between. Three years later, I am finally free.
Happy New Year 💜