Today, I met one of the three boys who assaulted me on the bus last year. It was in a safe space with a liaison from Westminster youth offending team.
When I asked people for advice, nearly everyone said not to go. Not to meet him, because what would I get out of it? And all day I was thinking to myself that I shouldn’t do it either.
I sat and anxiously drank Diet Coke in a pub nearby for nearly 2 hours before I needed to be there, because if I wasn’t near I wouldn’t have gone.
I’m so grateful I went through with it and followed my gut. It turned out to be the most cathartic experience I’ve ever had.
Not only do I finally have closure on the whole thing, even after the charges and so on, but I also got to deal with some personal issues related to shame and identity that I had never dealt with or so much as acknowledged before.
Most importantly though, I got to meet an empathetic young man who rightly feels awful about his actions and words, how he behaved and how his friends behave.
I got to see a vulnerable teenager deal with difficult identity and shame issues.
I got to see someone who had become aware of how his actions impact on others.
I got to find out that he turns up to see his case worker 3 times a week instead of the 1 time a fortnight he is meant to.
I got to see a little bit of myself in a “lazy student” struggling to change his ways.
I got to see a little bit of my brother in a guy (awkwardly) trying to do his best.
I got thanked by him for reporting his actions to the police for helping move his life in the right direction.
I got to see the justice system working to rehabilitate and empower people instead of demonising them.
I got to see someone realise that they are the only person with the power to change their life.
I got to teach someone the power of compassion and forgiveness.
I got a heartfelt, sincere apology.
And I got closure.