I served my abuser at work today.

Nyoom

New Here
Scary story time! Kinda wanna just get this all out, cos I'm still shaken from it. Typing things out in more detail kinda helps me process things, and writing it like I'm writing about a fictional character in a book or something helps too, so sorry if the tone is a bit off, that'd be why.

So, some context. I experienced COCSA as a child, from the ages of 6-7. Pretty textbook case of it, massively messed me up, still struggling with the effects to this day, though I am making strides in recovery. Obviously, it being COCSA, plus the fact it took me 7 years after it happened to report cos when my school found out and blamed it on me and never informed my family or even got help for his situation as far as I'm aware, there wasn't much the police could do, and I'm totally ok with that. I can accept that it wasn't exactly his fault; yes, he hurt me, he was doing it to use me and humiliate me in front of his friend, but he was also a minor and was definitely being abused himself (at least non contact, since he had porn access since 5 years old.). And while I don't blame him for his behaviour, his actions have still greatly impacted me and damaged me. At the same time though, I'm aware through a friend of mine, whose family is coincidentally family friends with my abusers, he is still a raging misogynist and routinely breaks the law from shop lifting to vandalism, and apparently assault based on what I've been told. So, while I don't blame him for what he did, I acknowledge my own hurt and trauma and since it doesn't seem like he has changed since based on what I was told by people who still know what he's up to, I do not forgive him. And I won't until there's any sort of evidence that he is taking steps to become a better person. It feels harsh, cos he's only in this situation because of his shitty home life (excluding potential CSA towards him) but there's only so many excuses you can make for shitty behaviour, especially when the person is now a grown adult.

Generally, I'm starting to recover from my trauma, in regards to that specific one at least. I've always figured I'd have to see him again someday. We all live around the same area, and I'd almost seen him before when I was 14 or 15. Only reason I didn't is because my friend warned me about where he was, and we quickly left the area together. But it was definitely a shock to suddenly face him while I was at my job today. I work in a medium sized store, and was on the customer service desk as I usually am. Having a decent day, a bit out of it and disorientated due to lack of sleep and a mild cold, but other than that, normal. Heck, once I got to work I was feeling quite good, more chipper than normal. Yeah, so, that didn't f*ckin' last at all. 3 hours until my shift ended, someone warns over the headset of a group of sketchy looking younger people, ranging from the ages of around their mid to late teens to their early 20's. Normal, we get a lot of shoplifters in our area. I'm getting on with the waste (yes, we do waste at the customer service desk, it is a pain and lowkey feels like a health and safety violation but from what I've read it actually isn't?) and I look up and see 3 of the guys from the group, one of the older ones splitting from the group and getting a drink. He came up to the CSD, despite the self serves being open and tills being quiet. But that happens literally all the time, so I turn to serve him and, vine boom sound effect.

I didn't really think it was him, at first. A few times, I've seen someone who looks a lot like him before, and it definitely triggered my anxiety, so I thought that maybe that was the case here. But as I served him, it became scarily apparent, yeah, that was him. I kinda didn't want to believe it, but I could tell. There were lot's of reasons why, I could make a list, but the main tell were his eyes. I've never forgotten his eyes. I mean, his whole face I've never forgotten either, but his eyes especially. I can't really explain it, but looking at his eyes always scared me, and I get that fear to this day. Idk. It feels like a cringe cliché but that's my experience. But anyway, since I was a bit unsure it was him still while serving him, I put on my best customer service voice, and hooooly fuuuuck, I should become an actor cos I think I managed to keep the anxiety out of my face and voice. Served him, wished him a nice day. That was the end of it, but it has f*cked me up since it happened. It's actually a bit of a blur, since I was so anxious. Really simple, short exchange, and as far as I could tell he didn't even recognise me. Which, on one hand, thank god, I don't want him to recognise me or know where I work. But on the other hand, what if he actually did but was doing what I was doing, and trying not to acknowledge the giant, Jupiter sized elephant in the room? I don't want him to recognise me, since I doubt he is exactly fond of me. I did report what he did to the cops, not out of want for revenge or anything, more so to make sure he was ok, and that no one else was effected. But, again, nothing really came of it, but I still have a fear that he knows I did it, and therefore is very angry at me for doing so. But at the same time, if he didn't recognise me, then that just kinda hurts. Like it was nothing to him, despite the fact it changed my life. Weird emotions, all sorts of chaos going on in my mind.

I kinda spiralled, trying to figure out if it was him or not, totally distracted from my job and paranoid he'd come back in for whatever reason. I was going from panic to dissociation to panic to dissociation, and was texting friends to see if they had any knowledge of his social medias to see if he has recent photos of himself (again, one of my friends is an old family friend, and one of my other friends has a bit of a penchant for lurking in peoples facebooks when he feels they've wronged him or his friends). In the process of this, two of my oldest friends swung by my workplace (fairly casual place, they don't care how you spend your time as long as you do your job, so sometimes my friends pop by for a quick chat and move to the side when I serve customers) by pure coincidence, one of which was the aforementioned borderline facebook stalker.

So, I confirmed it was him through FB stalker guy, who found a photo of him, since it was later in the evening and super quiet. Now, granted, the photo was from a few years back, but it was definitely him. No longer with any doubts in my mind (except for the fact my brain is now trying to get me to doubt it was him anyway, because my brain is a funky comedy of cognitive errors), my mind went completely blank for a moment, before I slapped my hand on the desk a few times not really knowing what to say. My closest and longest friend tried to comfort me. I'm the type that when I'm distressed by something, in the moment i just don't wanna deal with it. I tend to joke about things, and smile when saying things that upset me unless its to a therapist or other mental health professional, so I did just that there, until they had to go.

But man, I was messed up for the rest of my shift. I was so out of it, I almost walked into my boss, without even seeing her. I almost walk into people a lot normally, but I literally didn't see her. Like, totally dissociated, kinda out of body, which hasn't happened to me that severely in years. All this, from a simple and quick purchase (with amazing customer service on my end, of course). I felt sick, and not because of the fish scented eggs and the rotting cod inside of the waste bag. I kept flipping from totally out of it, near panic attack mode, to like... A sort of strangled euphoria. Like, I was not happy, more manic? Not sure how to explain it, but I was extremely hyperactive and talkative. My coworkers often talk over our headsets, especially later into the night, and the discussions and events from earlier kinda had everyone talking and in a bit of a jokey mood, so I completely played into that to the point that our shift leader, who normally doesn't have an issue with chatter as long as work is being done, told us we had to stop. I wanted to take some time to breathe in the staffroom, calm down, organise my thoughts, but I had no clue how to bring it up to my shift leader. My line manager knows I have some mental health issues, but my shift leader doesn't. She could probably guess I have something funky going on, considering that within my first month of work, she had me crying to her with runny mascara about a mistake I had made earlier that day. But I've never really disclosed anything like that explicitly, and honestly it feels like a bad excuse to say "I have bad anxiety rn, can I go to the staffroom?". Even though, yeah, valid reason to take a breather, at the time I felt like I'd be an attention seeker, or over reacting, or they'd think I was lying since these days I am not the "screaming crying throwing up" panicker, I am the silently dying inside as I slowly start to become more and more shakey until I become so afraid that the entire world fades away and my body is disconnected from my mind kinda panicker. I did tell one coworker, since she's a bit of an oddball like me so we get along very well, and occasionally we have trauma dump sessions with me when we're on break. She reassured me that if he ever comes in again, she'll cover me, despite the fact she doesn't really like working on CSD. I felt extremely grateful for that. She also gave me an extra bit of the chocolates she was sharing with people. We stan.

Honestly, I don't have much else to say. I'm tired, I'm anxious, I dunno how to handle my emotions, and it feels stupid. It's just stressful, and depressing. It feels like a total over reaction. It could have been worse, both in terms of what happened but also my reaction to the situation, but I can already tell this is gonna keep me up tonight, and add extra paranoia to my daily life, as if I needed anymore of that. Like, its such a small thing. But its making me feel sick, and while typing this out has helped calm me down to an extent, it's still a lot to process. And again, it feels extremely stupid. That's really all I have to say. There's no conclusion, or moral, or anything like that. It's just a scary thing that happened, and I still have no clue how to deal with it or process it. There are positives, like how I feel about my coworker being so kind, supportive, and generous, about my friends genuine care and support of me, my boyfriend, who I messaged the whole shabang about to, doing his best to support me and make me feel safe, I guess those are some positives. But yeah, scary, scary situation. And it feels stupid it's effected me this much, and I feel stupid for it, and I know logically that's probably part of the trauma talking but, yeah. Not fun.

Thank you for taking the time to read. I know it was a bit of a novel, but I really needed to do this to get any semblance of calm.
 

scout86

MyPTSD Pro
I dunno how to handle my emotions, and it feels stupid.
I'd say you're not giving yourself enough credit. You knew that writing this out would help, right? And you did that. That WAS a pretty stressful situation, especially being caught totally off guard. Reacting to seeing him is normal, under the circumstances.

I'm not as sure how this works when the abuser was a child, but my T has said that usually the abuser doesn't see the victim as being all that significant so you don't loam as large in THEIR memory as they do in yours. Of course things like being reported to the police probably effect that and so would his age at the time. But, because of the PTSD, there's a part of your brain that's always looking for threats. (Real and imagined.) So you're going to notice anyone who vaguely reminds you of him. HE on the other hand, probably doesn't remember you that same way and I'd guess there's a good chance he didn't recognize you at all because his brain isn't wired that same hypervigilent way. I'd say you handled things pretty well. Living in the same town wouldn't be easy!
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
i wonder if it would help to shift your perspective ever so bit a bit. it was hard and mind-blowing, but you survived and even made good, solid use of your support network to get through. that is no small accomplishment. i hold it as a victory worth celebrating. a solid step toward taking back the power that was stolen from you.

just wondering and opining. . .
gentle support while you decide what is right for you.
 
Wow! I can't even begin to fathom how you managed to get through that, but as the others have said above, you did and amazingly well at that! I guess you already know why you did, because of all the hard work you've put into your own healing, but still, that's a huge accomplishment (even though I forever wish you didn't have to need to do go through that!). I'm also blown away by your compassion, honesty and logical thinking towards your abuser. That is by no means easy and I'm sure no one would blame you if you hated every bone in his body for eternity, even if he was reacting to his own trauma. But you're able to not excuse or deny his action, not forgive, but maybe understand why he may have done this.
I guess what I'm trying to say is for as hideously shitty as that was, and is, for you, I hope you realise how amazing you are. You were able to "cope" in the immediate situation, and knew what to do afterwards by writing here, getting support from your network etc. I honestly think you're amazing. I don't even know you, yet feel so immensely proud of everything you're accomplishing.
Are you still in therapy? If so, is this something you'd want to discuss this with them?

Lastly, in regards to management/supervisor, would you feel comfortable explaining the situation briefly and setting a sort of action plan so to speak should this kind of situation happens again? I appreciate him living nearby must be worrying for you, now more so, and wonder if a plan of action would help ease anxiety? May not be something you're comfortable doing which is completely understandable, but just thought I'd throw the idea out there as that kind of thing helps me x
 

Nyoom

New Here
I'd say you're not giving yourself enough credit. You knew that writing this out would help, right? And you did that. That WAS a pretty stressful situation, especially being caught totally off guard. Reacting to seeing him is normal, under the circumstances.

I'm not as sure how this works when the abuser was a child, but my T has said that usually the abuser doesn't see the victim as being all that significant so you don't loam as large in THEIR memory as they do in yours. Of course things like being reported to the police probably effect that and so would his age at the time. But, because of the PTSD, there's a part of your brain that's always looking for threats. (Real and imagined.) So you're going to notice anyone who vaguely reminds you of him. HE on the other hand, probably doesn't remember you that same way and I'd guess there's a good chance he didn't recognize you at all because his brain isn't wired that same hypervigilent way. I'd say you handled things pretty well. Living in the same town wouldn't be easy!
Thank you for the encouraging and kind words, they're quite reassuring :) I still haven't fully unpacked my emotions in regards to it cos something arguably worse happened literally 2 days after (lmao) but I am way less anxious about it. Having people be so kind and reassuring helps though, so thank you.

i wonder if it would help to shift your perspective ever so bit a bit. it was hard and mind-blowing, but you survived and even made good, solid use of your support network to get through. that is no small accomplishment. i hold it as a victory worth celebrating. a solid step toward taking back the power that was stolen from you.

just wondering and opining. . .
gentle support while you decide what is right for you.
Thank you for all the encouraging words, it really makes a difference :)
 

Nyoom

New Here
Wow! I can't even begin to fathom how you managed to get through that, but as the others have said above, you did and amazingly well at that! I guess you already know why you did, because of all the hard work you've put into your own healing, but still, that's a huge accomplishment (even though I forever wish you didn't have to need to do go through that!). I'm also blown away by your compassion, honesty and logical thinking towards your abuser. That is by no means easy and I'm sure no one would blame you if you hated every bone in his body for eternity, even if he was reacting to his own trauma. But you're able to not excuse or deny his action, not forgive, but maybe understand why he may have done this.
I guess what I'm trying to say is for as hideously shitty as that was, and is, for you, I hope you realise how amazing you are. You were able to "cope" in the immediate situation, and knew what to do afterwards by writing here, getting support from your network etc. I honestly think you're amazing. I don't even know you, yet feel so immensely proud of everything you're accomplishing.
Are you still in therapy? If so, is this something you'd want to discuss this with them?

Lastly, in regards to management/supervisor, would you feel comfortable explaining the situation briefly and setting a sort of action plan so to speak should this kind of situation happens again? I appreciate him living nearby must be worrying for you, now more so, and wonder if a plan of action would help ease anxiety? May not be something you're comfortable doing which is completely understandable, but just thought I'd throw the idea out there as that kind of thing helps me x
Thank you so much for all of this, it made me tear up a bit. I spoke to my manager a few weeks ago as I still felt paranoid he'd show up again. They made it so if I need to, I can walk away and get someone else to serve him :) As for therapy, I am not currently in therapy but I have been thinking of going back, for a few reasons not just this incident.

Thank you again for such a kind and encouraging post, I hope you are doing well and are aware that you are also a lovely person :)
 
Thank you so much for all of this, it made me tear up a bit. I spoke to my manager a few weeks ago as I still felt paranoid he'd show up again. They made it so if I need to, I can walk away and get someone else to serve him :) As for therapy, I am not currently in therapy but I have been thinking of going back, for a few reasons not just this incident.

Thank you again for such a kind and encouraging post, I hope you are doing well and are aware that you are also a lovely person :)
Oh wow, again, a huge step in speaking to others and getting that action plan in place. That's amazing that you've been able to speak up and advocate for yourself. That is by no means an easy task, so I really hope you see how well you are doing, (even if it may not feel like it right now), and should be really proud of yourself.

I'm tired, nor slept well as I've struggled the past few days. My fiancé had to have a knee op. Nothing life threatening and wasn't in any kind of high risk category, but I was still very very anxious before and during. There were a few issues and the op ended up being far more complex and longer than expected, so that was a bit of a worry. First night home was OK, I felt calmer onowing he was ok and home safe, but today had to call the hospital for advice as his wounds had bled a lot. They've said to keep an eye and they'll come out to him if necessary which is great, I've felt very on edge ever since (my trauma is predominantly loss and poor medical treatment, so I guess it's just triggered stuff).
I'm worrying about going back to work on Tuesday, I hate leaving him in pain although I know he'll be ok. But I hate the feeling that something could happen and I wont be here.
Thanks for asking hun.

Yeah maybe therapy again could help you work through this and anything else going on? Sometimes I've used therapy as a sounding board just to vent 🤣, but it helps me process everything to get it all out to someone impartial I guess
 
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