Sunday, June 21, 2015

XXVIII

I had several people try to warn me away from Theo, warnings which I ignored because I thought I knew better. Theo had actually been in touch with one of these people before turning towards me, and oddly enough, she's the only person from Washington who I still contact. Theo had tried developing a relationship with this woman, Anastasia, and he ended up finding qualities about her that he didn't like, which is why he turned to me.

Although Theo had banned me from contacting Anastasia during the time I was with him, we quickly reconnected after I left him. I realized how strong she was during our countless conversations on Facebook, and she was one of the people I drew strength from during the long road of recovery. It was therapeutic for me to engage her in conversation because we'd both been down similar roads with the exact same person and both came to the same conclusion. Recently, when I was telling her about how I'd been contacted by the Bellingham police regarding Theo, she said she ran into him some months ago. Admittedly, I was initially startled. For three years I've tried to tell myself that I am not afraid of Theo and not haunted by demons of my past. It hadn't really been true until I read the message of her latest encounter with Theo Keyes.

Anastasia was at a concert in Washington with a friend. They were talking with members of the band when Theo quite literally almost ran into Anastasia. "[H]e looked like a ghost, his jaw was wide open," she told me. I spent a few minutes trying to imagine him in that state of shock, reading through the rest of the message to find that she had actually a group of friends near her, and how small he seemed to her. He left immediately and she hasn't seen him since.

I remember staring at the screen after reading that and thinking back on all the anxiety attacks, all the nightmares, all the reoccurring physical problems I'd had over these past few years.  It sounds cliché to say, but it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. For a fleeting second I wished it had been me there, standing in front of him, just to see him fall: to see him turn and run like the coward he is.

For so long I'd been traumatized by this image of Theo in my head. I put a lot of weight in symbols: my blog itself takes inspiration from the phoenix. I burned for a long time, but this blog has always been here to prove that I can and will "rise from the ashes". It was really important for me to read Anastasia's story and to pass on the message. Rapists and psychopaths like Theo get their power from isolation because it's really the one thing they can use to victimize a person, to make them weak. They are the ones that are truly small, weak and insecure. Without that isolation, they are nothing. I write this blog so that others that have been victimized don't have to feel alone: ever. It doesn't matter if you've been shunned by your family, if you've lost your friends, if you didn't have anybody to begin with: you'll never be alone.

I'm lucky to have a strong support system, but I also know that I can be a source of support for someone else. You might feel like a victim, but you're a survivor. We all are. If you can go through something like that and walk away, even with countless scars, you survived. It might not feel like it some days, but that's why we all need people to lean on and to reaffirm your strength. Don't hesitate to reach out and comment on the blog if you need it: before I started blogging, I was in a very dark place and didn't think I could really find anyone else who would want to listen to my experience or had been through what I'd been through. 28 posts and almost 2200 views later, I've been proven wrong. As survivors of abuse, we truly have strength in numbers.  I'm so grateful to everyone who's supported me through the bad times and the good, and I'm happy I finally found my voice and my passion.

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