I thought I saw my former abuser  in the street yesterday.

I was so terrified, I didn’t even dare to look back again to see whether it was her or not. When I finally did, I realised that  it wasn’t her at all,  just another woman who looked a bit like her. At home that evening, I found myself having to keep checking and checking that all the doors and windows were properly locked and bolted.

For weeks after I escaped from her, I found it impossible to sleep. Every little noise in the night made me think that she was there, or that she was outside breaking in. I kept having to get out of bed to check that the front door was locked. When I did get to sleep, I would have vivid and realistic nightmares about her breaking in and raping me.

It upsets me that thinking I’d caught sight of her made me so frightened. I thought that if I ever saw her again I would stay calm and ignore her with quiet dignity, but it looks like I have further to go in overcoming my fear than I thought. In the meantime, if I can’t lose my fear of her then I’m at least going to try to manage it – plan in advance what I will do or say if I do come across her in the street, at a party or in the pub, think up some excuses that I can make if I need to get out of a social situation. And get a bloody great big bolt fitted on the front door.

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