She waved a goodbye to her friends with a smile on her face and turned back on her heels. She started walking the other way, where her home was. She wasn’t sure if she could call it home. Home was a place you were supposed to feel safe in. She wasn’t even feeling safe in her own skin, so it wasn’t home. It was just a plain house which she happened to live in.
Her gaze was fixed on her feet as she walked towards her house, one step at a time. Her smile remained in place, as though it were a mask concealing her true feelings. She was holding her keys defensively, as if she would be harassed at any moment. She was paying close attention to the footsteps around her. She was just checking to make sure no one was coming towards her in particular. When she arrived at her doorstep she let out a sigh of relief. She unlocked the door with her trembling hands and stepped inside. She dropped the act as soon as she were inside. Tears ran down her cheeks at the memory of the traumatizing event.
It was just a few months ago. She was walking to the subway from her friends’ house. She was tired so she took the shortcut and entered an ally way. That was the worst decision she ever made. She started ranting as she heard footsteps that didn’t belong to her, echoing through the ally. She sped up her pace and tried to get out of there as fast as she could but she wasn’t fast enough. She was touched without her consent and left alone with her tears in the dark ally. She did everything in her power to stop the man but he was twice her height and strength. She felt disgusting and wanted not to exist. She took the subway on her shaking knees and with her uncontrollable tears. She cried in the shower and fell asleep that night. She had neither a mom nor a dad to talk to him about it. And her friends were ‘victim blaming’ her. She never felt more alone in her life.
She walked to her room and stood in front of the mirror. She just stared at herself. She felt so uncomfortable in her own body. Her gaze slid to a picture on the shelf behind her. A picture of her with her mother and father. She stared at her happy self in the picture and back to her reflection. She couldn’t recognize herself. “Who are you?” she asked in a shaky breath. Her voice came out as a whisper. She wasn’t expecting an answer so it startled her when she heard the words “I don’t know, who are you?” She stared in shock. “Don’t ask me who I am. Don’t ask your reflection, your part that everyone else sees. Ask your real self. Yourself that only you can see. Who are you? Deep down are you still your old self?” She was confused. “You are blaming your outer self for what happened and letting the guilt change you. But you are still you. You just hide your all your emotions behind a smile because you feel guilty for something that wasn’t your fault. You shouldn’t try to put up a front and should start making people aware of your feelings. You should let them know it wasn’t your fault. Also you should go for professional help about the incident.” She was speechless. Her own reflection was giving her advice? She felt like she was daydreaming and closed her eyes shut. When she opened them back her reflection was back to normal. She thought she was going mad for a moment but then her reflection smiled at her. She smiled back.
She gathered her things and left to make a report about the incident. She finally understood what she was doing was wrong. Staying silent and letting yourself be crushed under the blame wasn’t the right choice. Just like how blaming the victim wasn’t either. What happened to her needed to be heard and immediately stopped.