I will beat a $&@/*#%!

I supervise student clinic on Saturdays.  Kim* has been in my clinic for the past two terms.  Kim has been in one or another of my classes for her whole time in school.  She used to be a fighter.  Like a semi-pro fighter, do she knows how to give and receive a blow.  Once I overheard her telling her classmates how someone tried to mug her and she laid the guy out flat.

Yesterday, Kim called a few minutes into the clinic shift.  She was sobbing, and all I could understand was “. . . Some dude.  . .  backpack . . .  On my way in the police car . . .”  I told her I would meet her at the door and we would sit down and talk.  When she arrived, she had a wide-eyed, panicked stare and tears running down her face.  I walked her to the office and closed the door.  Then she told me that she had been mugged on the way to the train.  The guy jumped her and because of her bag, she couldn’t throw a proper punch, so she wrestled helplessly while he smashed her head into the ground. He ended up stealing a bracelet that was a family heirloom.  He only stopped beating her when some other guys ran up to help.  She filed a police report and came straight to her clinic shift.  I brought her ice for her already-swelling face, convinced her to call a friend to take her to a hospital, and let her wait in the office.  She said she felt safe there.

I checked on her often, and each time I did,  Kim rode another wave of the realization of trauma.  She could have died.  She lost an irreplaceable family heirloom.  She couldn’t fight him off, even though she knew how.  I held her head in my hands while she breathed, and I made her promise to text me from the hospital.

In one of my classes, we talk about working with trauma survivors, and our responsibility as massage therapists.  We talk about the balance of compassion and professionalism, and how people don’t need us to weep with them.  They need us to hold a calm, safe space.  A non-judgmental space.  I know this is difficult, and I used to think I was good at it.  But I couldn’t help crying with Kim for her loss of security.  And I can’t help wanting to beat that m*****-f***** into the ground.

Kim is fine, physically.  As I said to her, the emotions will come in waves, probably for a long time.  And I will focus on wishing her wellness instead of wishing harm to her attacker.

*- name and identifying details have been changed

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