We passed by the street where my harasser lives—on the day of my interview.
“Well, this is hilarious,” I muttered under my breath as I hid in the backseat of my Grab, praying I won’t ever get a glimpse of him. Or his father, or mother…or even the gate of his house (which I remembered to be wide and rusty and black). I felt fear grow inside me, and my eyes were starting to well up.
Of all days I’d see a trigger—why today?
But as we drove pass the food joint we used to hang out in, I suddenly felt calm. Relaxed. And ironically—confident.
It’s funny because I knew God knows how much of a sucker I am for all things poetic—and I couldn’t help but feel that He placed me there, in that exact time and place, to remind me that I can and will move on from my past. (After all, I was literally in a moving car when I saw his street! I giggled at the symbolism, amused.)
When I finally arrived in the Ateneo de Manila University, my interviewer asked me why I wanted to study Counseling Psychology. (My undergraduate course and my current work as a fashion journalist have nothing to do with Counseling).
I looked back at my past and remembered how a counselor helped me rise from the darkest of days. My counselor played a huge part in helping me realize: it was not my fault, God was not punishing me, I’m allowed to mourn my past, and there is a brighter life waiting for me at the end of this tunnel. My counselor was a hero to me—and to thousands of other girls (and boys) who felt lost, alone, guilty after harassment.
I want to give back; to help others the same way my counselor helped me.
After telling the doctor my Why, she ended the interview with this—
“I hope to see you around the department. We need scientists, yes—and we also need advocates.”
For my fellow victors of harassment, this is for us. God can turn beauty from our ashes—the same way I found purpose in pain. #LivingWithPTSD #AVictorNotAVictim