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  • Kiana

Me Ever Since 5: I Am the Protagonist and Sometimes Someone's Hero

CW: Mentions of sexual assault

When I experienced sexual assault a few years ago, I reached out for help to the company I was working at. However, due to a series of events that followed and work-related stress, I eventually quit that job.

Right after the incident, I couldn’t forgive the company, societal norms, or some indelicate men who treat women as if they’re objects at all. I was full of anger and hatred. I think I was prickly at the time. I lost weight due to stress, and things I’d say, which hid my shattered heart, were sharp and harsh.

However, a dear friend who stood by me even during that difficult time recently told me that my actions after the incident had inspired them.

I was moved to tears.

As for me, I diverged from the traditional career path. I ventured into a world where my income wouldn’t increase unless I climbed up on my own. I became afraid of living in Tokyo, where I used to commute every day, and gradually moved to the countryside. I thought I might be drifting towards what was easier for me at that moment. I wondered if I was running away from all the discomfort by blaming that incident.

But I was wrong.

Since then and even now, I’ve been living my life with courageous actions that are etched into someone’s memory, striving to live my life to the fullest.

I’m glad I stayed alive.

I’m glad I didn’t have to do things like discard my body and my wounded heart, which felt tainted.

I’m glad I’m alive.

After mustering the courage to seek help from the company, I didn’t drift down an easier path or run away. I just let go of things I didn’t need because, in the end, they weren’t essential to me. 

I don’t like walking the traditional path that I’m given; I’d rather create my own. I want to earn my living through work that only I can do, not with a predetermined salary, which is why I’m currently trying to become an entrepreneur. The heart of Tokyo didn’t suit me because I was raised in the countryside. I’m the kind of person who wants to explore various worlds; a friend even told me, “Japan is too small for you.” Quitting a secure job in a large corporation where your salary, life, or social status are protected isn’t an easy decision either.

See? I didn’t need any of it.

I realized there was a place where I truly belonged, so I thought, “I don’t need to be here anymore.”

See? That incident wasn’t part of any of these reasons.

It just expedited things a bit. Because of that incident, I had more opportunities to face societal issues and confront my own emotions. I stopped turning away from things I’d already known. That’s all.

I’ve been living my life properly, you see.

I don’t think they changed my life at all anymore. My life hasn’t been completely ruined, and I don’t believe I was given an opportunity in disguise through this ordeal. I’ve managed to bounce back and overcome severe depression, and I have things I want to do. Every moment belongs to a life that’s for me, not the “life after their impact.” 

Honestly, shortly after the incident, it was unbearably painful. I felt like I had to live for the sake of “protecting other employees” or “protecting other women.” But somehow, I managed to live for myself again. I might be helping someone, even a little, without striving for someone else, just by earnestly living for myself. Just like my best friend watched my back when I was fiercely fighting for justice.

In moments like this, for some reason, Shibuya’s scramble crossing comes to my mind.

There are so many different people, each living their own lives, looking happy or unhappy, alone or with someone. There are people in suits talking busily on their phones and people with flashy clothes who look like they’d play loud music. People of various appearances, situations, and expressions are there. Some turn right, others turn left, some walk straight, and some retrace their steps after checking their maps. But surprisingly, everyone seems to be looking around just enough not to bump into others. 

In the heart of Tokyo, which I just said didn’t suit me, it’s the most special sight for me.

It feels like a microcosm of human society. Sometimes I want to watch it, maybe even be a part of it, but then again, I might not want to be a part of it. That’s the feeling it evokes.

Maybe there are people in that crowd who, like me, have been left with deep scars by someone. Conversely, there might be people who have hurt others. The perpetrators will never become heroes to me, but maybe one day they’ll become heroes for someone else. Every time I look at the scramble crossing, I think about this. 

If we just live our lives earnestly, fervently, and solely for ourselves, someone might notice us like we’re drawn to someone at the scramble crossing. And without us knowing, we might become someone’s hero. 

I want to cherish the ownership of my life that I’ve finally regained and live my life proudly.

Written by Kiana

Translated by Kyoko Itagaki, Emiru Okada

Graphics by Emily Mogami


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