I am struggling with the guilt of letting my harm-doer go free.

“Dear Ignacio, two years ago after much soul searching and many #therapy sessions, I confronted my piano instructor for molesting me for years as a #teenager. She was not receptive to my confrontation and accused me of “having enjoyed it” as a “horny teenage boy.” At the time, I did not have the capacity to push back and left the issue. Since then, I keep thinking about the fact that she is still out there with other teenagers. Coming to terms with what happened and then getting gaslighted by her has been hard enough. I don’t know if I have the capacity to pursue the issue further, yet I am struggling with the guilt of letting her go free. What should I do?”

It is incredibly painful and harmful when we find the courage to confront our harm-doer and they dismiss and #gaslight us. I’m sorry you had to experience that. But good for you, for taking that step for yourself. Coming to terms with this kind of #trauma is intense. 

There are unique barriers for cis men, trans men and #masculine people when confronting sexual violence. There are many incorrect assumptions made based on lies such as, “men cannot be raped or assaulted,” “men are the harm-doers,” or “men always enjoy sexual contact with women.” 

In your case, a woman was the harm-doer. Cis women are rarely seen as harm-doers, especially towards a male-identified or masculine person. This adds a layer of invisibility to your experience. Unfortunately, most survivors aren’t believed, especially when they don’t perfectly fit the image of an “ideal victim.” There is gaslighting happening by your harm-doer, and then gaslighting happening by the larger culture. None of this paves the way towards an already challenging path to healing. 

The question is, what do you need in YOUR #healing journey? Dealing with the guilt that you named does occupy time and energy. Acknowledging your capacity for addressing the guilt at this time is a form of honoring your own needs. How much of this process can you hold without harming yourself?

There are many ways to move forward: you can have an advocate represent you, you can speak for yourself, you can decide if you want a loud or quiet process. You will also need to acknowledge that the process may not unfold as you predicted, despite your best intentions. 

Let’s go over some outcomes that may potentially help you deal with the guilt. I understand you are concerned about her harming others. What would be an ideal outcome? Getting an acknowledgement and #apology from her? Setting up an accountability process to make sure she can no longer engage in this behavior? Getting her fired from her job? Getting her arrested? 

Here is a brief list of action items. Thinking about these may help you figure out what makes sense for you:

1- Confront whoever is hiring the piano instructor. Perhaps, send an anonymous letter, or go to them in person with support. You may be able to get results by addressing the institution(s) that employ her. This will begin a process by the institution to investigate or bury the issue.

2- Report it to the police. Depending on which state you live in, there may be a statute of limitations. RAINN has the state by state information: https://www.rainn.org/state-state-guide-statutes-limitations

3- If going through the criminal justice system is not what you are desiring, you can contact organizations doing work on Transformative Justice practices such as The Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective (BATJC): https://batjc.wordpress.com

4- Use social media or other online platforms to push the issue and tell your story.

5- Organize to find other students who were harmed by her and work together.

There are also other organizations and advocates besides the ones named here that can provide more information and advice to help you make a decision. As you move forward, be sure to prioritize your well-being, and consult with your support network, including your therapist and loved ones. This path can be challenging, but it can also provide a very rewarding sense of control and agency. 

#heal2end #malesurvivors #sexualviolence #transformativejustice #teenagers #gaslighting #survivorship 

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