The young woman buried her head into my shoulder and sobbed, right in the middle of the exhibit hall.
Last weekend, my husband, Terry Kelly, and I attended a conference for the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities. We’re reaching out to colleges, hoping to bring Love Fraud and How to Avoid It to students. It’s such an important message, as the reaction of the young lady proved.
At the age of 23, she had already suffered greatly because of a sociopath.
She met the guy when she was 17, and later they lived together. The young lady had an opportunity to work at a well-paying job—earning $60,000 a year—except that the guy didn’t want her to work. He didn’t want her to be independent, out of his control. That was the agenda—control—and eventually it lead to brutal sexual assault. The guy is now in jail.
I had an opportunity to present a 10-minute sample of my program to the students who were there to book special events for their campuses. The young lady was in the audience. I ran into her later in the buffet line, and she told me that at one point, she had been living in a domestic violence shelter.
I invited her to stop by our exhibit booth to talk more. She did, and as she told me what happened, I could see that she was still traumatized, even though the relationship had ended three years earlier. I put my arm around her to hug her, and she broke down. Her body shook with sobs as the pain overwhelmed her.
I talked to her about facing it, about purging the emotional poison from her system, about how the only way out of the pain was through it. It was a process, and it would take as long as it took. But I also told her the other part of the process—letting in whatever joy she found in her life. Eventually, the balance would shift, with the joy overtaking the pain.
She understood what I was talking about, and I was grateful for the opportunity to help her.