It is Well with My Soul

The committee filed back into the small, windowless room and took their places behind the narrow table.  As the chairman cleared his throat and prepared to deliver the verdict that would change both our lives forever, I held my breath and prayed.  Prayed they had done the right thing.  And that if they hadn’t, I’d have the strength to walk out of that room with my head held high, regardless.
The verdict was read, and as I heard the word guilty, I felt a sense of relief and release, leaving me lightheaded and unable to speak.  Some have asked me if I felt happy in that moment.  Happy?  No, I wouldn’t say so.
There is no happiness in exposing someone else’s crime and opening yourself up to a world of criticism, in the process.
She’s lying.  She’s crazy.  She’s making this up.
But each story was told, and in the end, that’s all we have.  Our own stories to tell. 
And they listened, and they believed, this group of adults and peers.  And they gave me the validation that my wounded psyche so desperately needed to begin to heal and press on.
Because that’s all I ever wanted.  To move on and be okay again.  And to try and make sure that he could never, ever do this to anyone else.  I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t speak up, even though I knew the deck was stacked against me.
After all, he was rich, and I was not.  He was a big deal on campus, and I was not.  He had influence, and I did not.  He was the untouchable, unthinkable wolf in sheep’s clothing, yet to be exposed.  And although I hated to be the one to do it, I knew I had no choice.
And for this, I lost everything.  Most of my friends, my reputation and the right to enjoy a carefree college experience.  Instead, I got stalked by reporters, hate mail from his friends and ostracized by the student body, at large.
But throughout all this turmoil, there was a small flame inside of me that never burned out, like a pilot light on a trusty old furnace.  It would have been easy to hate myself, second-guess my actions and lose my mind completely. 
And looking back, although I lost so much, I gained infinitely more.  Dignity, self-respect and peace of mind in knowing that I am strong.  I am a survivor.
I don’t care to think about what shape my spirit would be in today if I had allowed someone to break me down and cross lines that should never be crossed and not say or do a single damn thing about it.
And regardless of what anyone thought of me back then, or even today, I am right with myself and my soul. 
And I think that’s all God wants from us.
This was a tough one, but so worth it to link up with other inspiring writers for yeahwrite’s summer series.
read to be read at yeahwrite.me

Comments

  1. FantASTIC. Wow. I can't fathom, yet you opened the door and gave me a glimpse. Every woman's fear.

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    1. Thank you, Kim. This is the first time I've ever written about it. Quite liberating!

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  2. Honest, true writing. Nicely controlled story. Sorry that you had to go through that. Erin

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    1. Thank you for the compliments, Erin. It was definitely a challenge to keep that story under 500 words! Thanks for reading.

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  3. That had to have been miserable to go through. I can't even begin to put myself in your shoes, except that as someone who inevitably shrinks in the face of conflict, I doubt I would have had the strength.

    On a lighter note, I sure love the background on your blog. I wish I had curtains or a sofa in that pattern!

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    1. Well, if you knew me, you'd never think I could have done this, as I'm the ultimate conflict avoider. But there are certain things in life that you just can't let lie. Thanks for reading.
      And I will commission a sofa for you ASAP! :) Mamarific Custom Upholstery & Home Accents...I like the sound of that.

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  4. Brutal. I am so sorry that people in the world like that exist. I am so glad you spoke out and did your best to keep other women from going through what you went through. No doubt you have saved countless other women from suffering the same fate - and quite frankly that is heroic.

    Thank you for sharing such a heartwrenching story. I hope that if I ever face such an evil as you did that I too would have the courage to go head to head with it.

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    1. Thank you, Carrie. It sure didn't feel heroic at the time, but looking back, I am proud of myself for speaking out. So many women don't, and I understand why. Thanks for reading.

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  5. I work on a college campus and know kids like the one you describe. I worry for the girls who get into situations with these kids and am so glad that you stood up for yourself and everyone else he had hurt. You should be very, very proud of yourself. ((( hug )))

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    1. Thank you!! College can be a scary place, and I just hope my own daughter can steer clear of these types of situations when it's her time.

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  6. The one thing you can never make up for is regret. If you had not stood strong you would have lived with it for the rest of your life. It is a lot easier to move on from the ridicule of others than it is to move on from the ridicule of ourselves.

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    1. Truer words were never spoken :) Thanks for reading, Jennifer.

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  7. Wow. I am so glad things went right in that courtroom. Speaking the truth is never easy, and our system is designed so that the victim suffers doubly for the crime. Well done. May the light of your honesty shine brightly and protect others.

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    1. Well, it wasn't actually a court trial, but a judicial committee at the university. After he was found guilty there, the DA tried to prosecute, but the grand jury did not indict him. This was back when "date rape" was a relatively new concept. But even that one judgement in favor of the victim was a coup, at the time.
      Thanks for reading!

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  8. Such a powerful, strong post. And a powerful, strong woman. I can't put my head around how difficult it must have been for you to go through this the first time, and then relive it in this story. Thank you for sharing it with us and trusting us with it.

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    1. Thank you for reading, Melisa, and for the kind words!

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  9. Heroic. It's a shame, isn't it, that this is the word to use. And yet it is. To do the right thing knowing you'll be condemned for it is nothing short of heroic. I grieve for the fact that it is so. And for your experience, that you had to not only endure the experience itself but be persecuted for revealing it. I wish I had the power to syndicate your post. Every young person, girl and boy, on a college campus ought to read it. Thanks for taking that stand!

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    1. Wow, thank you, Stephanie. I used to do some speaking on college campuses and am thinking about getting back into it. It's a story that too many women can tell, and it needs to be talked about with the next generation.

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  10. My heartbreaks for the college girl you were who had to endure a horrific act of violence. Your strength and courage in coming forward and standing up for yourself is admirable. I totally relate to the liberating feeling. I wrote something for yeah write a few months back that I had rarely spoken of.
    http://fracturedfamilytales.blogspot.com/2012/04/innocence-lost.html

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    1. Oh, Robbie, your post gave me chills and tears. I am so sorry that happened to you as such as sweet, young girl. It makes me think of my daughter and terrifies me that I can't protect her from everything. It does feel good to write about it and set it free, doesn't it?

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    2. Thank you. It was scary and painful to write but freeing as well. I hope it was the same for you.

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  11. BRAVO TO YOU! You said it perfectly: "And looking back, although I lost so much, I gained infinitely more."

    Standing strong has paid off and you have triumphed above it all...I am so proud of you!

    The world needs stronger women like you in it. Know that I am cheering you on!

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    1. Thank you, Carrie. That means the world to me :)

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  12. Brave lady! This is a great, great post. The courage it took to speak up under those circumstances is inspiring and I am not surprised you had it. IT shows in your writing that you have a strong and loyal spirit. Loyal to yourself. I love it. I would like to think I could have done that as a 20 year old, but I couldn't have. I would like to believe I could now. Maybe.

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    1. You'd be surprised what you can do when you have been wronged in that manner. I give a lot of credit to our high school because they ingrained in us to be strong, independent and to speak out for truth.

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  13. As someone who has been working on blowing that "small flame," I was so happy that you got the verdict you wanted, and that you stood up for yourself. I think about that all the time - that steel we find, deep inside, when it really comes down to it. I love that you have that self-knowledge to carry around with you - to know you are that strong. I absolutely agree with you that you gained more than you lost.

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  14. Good for you, for your brave actions and for having the courage to write about it now. Maybe your words will kindle that small flame in someone else.

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  15. Wow. Simply wow. You are one courageous woman! And what a writer. Riveting. I hope many people read this and feel motivated to speak up for themselves and those who can't. I know I am. Thanks for speaking to my heart. Well done!

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    1. Thanks very much for the kind words!

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  16. Great post! I'm sorry you had to go through such a terrible experience though.

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  17. Your incredibly bravery leaps off of the page!
    So well done, and so appreciated.
    We all need to speak out against those who do worng, especially if they could potentially do it again and again to others.
    I am amazed by your strength and so touched by your words.
    Thank you for sharing something so very personal.

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    1. Thank you, Dawn. It's amazing what strength you can find inside when you need it!

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  18. I'm often dismayed at how people can make snap judgements before they know the truth, or sometimes inspire of it. Thanks for sharing your story.

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  19. Great read on such a terrible moment! I hope you found the writing process cathartic!

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    1. Thank you. You all are my free therapy!

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  20. I cry for what happened to the girl you were. I celebrate the woman who you are now!

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  21. SO worth it--go, go you! You are amazing and powerful for being on the other side of this and sharing your story!

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