The circular black, rimmed clock continues to tick and tock, and the air thickens within the square office space with two brown, cushioned loveseats and healing quotes framed along each wall. Nevaeh bites her nail bids hastily, as her dark spiraled hair hides her blank stare. I continue to watch her silently, noting the oversized grey shirt and black sweatpants she’s repeatedly worn for almost a year. Nevaeh shifts closer to the armrest and her puffy eyes glance my way.

            “What would you like us to do today while you’re here?”, I inhale, laying my notepad on top of my lap.

            “I know you know what happened at court yesterday.”, Nevaeh grumbled, with her hand tucked into her sweater covering her mouth.

            “I’m always ready for when you would like to talk about your court, it’s your choice.”, I straighten out my tan blazer.  “What you say here is confidential, but you know this.”

            Nevaeh crosses her leg, and forces her gaze back onto the black, rimmed clock. Her knees begin to bounce endlessly, and she gently shakes her head and blurts out, “How could they ask for a stupid plea agreement?”. Her voice trembles, she covers her eyes as her legs curl up to her chest. I gently nudge the box of tissues across the oak coffee table and deeply exhale as I lean back into my seat.

            “I wish I knew the reasoning for the decisions the court officials make”, I slightly pause. “But, I do know that no matter the outcome of this case, it will not replace the efforts you have made to have the assault be brought to justice. Because those efforts still happened, you shared your story and found the courage to say it again to the police.” I reach for my pen. My eyes shifts towards Nevaeh’s foot rapidly bouncing. .

            “That’s where you forget Sarah, I did not choose to tell my story. They made me!”, Nevaeh shouts throwing her arms towards the softly lit ceiling light. Her thick eyebrows furrowed as emerald eyes turn glossy, “I didn’t want to do this in the first place! I knew something like this would happen! But no one ever listens to me!”, Nevaeh bellows, leaning towards the coffee table and her feet planted onto patterned rug. . 

            “What did you know would happen with filing the report?”, I questioned, gliding my pen across my notepad.

            “Ugh! Isn’t it obvious? All this case has done is ruin my damn life! All of my family, either doesn’t talk to me or talks shit about me on Facebook. And since his attorneys forced my friends to give a statement during school they won’t even look at me!”, She cries out, her cheeks turning crimson.

            “We cannot control how people respond or their actions, but we can process and account for our own.”, I deeply sigh, noting her body movement and behavior.

            “Oh yeah? Well, Miss therapist Sarah, what do you suggest I do then? Should I be happy that I told my story? Or am I allowed to have an emotional reaction to the treatment I have gotten since all this shits started?”, Nevaeh scoffs, folding her arms. She jerks her body against the loveseat. She’s glaring back at the clock, tears stream down to the corners of her lips and below her chin. 

            I interlock my fingers and lay my hands against my lap, “Nevaeh, I hear so many emotions rushing through you and I want you to continue to vent about how strongly you are feeling about your case.”, I clear my throat and shift on the loveseat. “This is first time you have really talked about the case and I want to hear everything you are ready to share.”

            “Yeah, because it’s your job, you have to get me to talk about it. The only reason why I am here is because the social worker could not read me and told my parents they wouldn’t have to pay a dime.”, She hisses, darting her eyes into mine.

            “It is my job to be here, but I chose to work with you just as you have chosen to work with me. It is still your choice whether or not you want to show to these bi-weekly sessions, do you feel you have been forced to come here and to file your case?”, I swiftly return to the issue.  

            “This wouldn’t have ever happened if I had just kept it to myself, but no, I had to blurt out to the wrong person about being raped by him.”, Nevaeh cries, burying her face into her arms and leaning into her knees. “And since then- everything has been ruined… I’m more alone now, than I ever have been before.”.

“I am assuming you’re talking about your mother right?”, I whisper, Nevaeh gently nods.

            I sit for a moment, gazing upon Nevaeh sobbing into her faded, hooded sweater and  jot  down my observations- ‘Anger has always been her armor, it’s how she feels powerful and in control. And now, her armor is breaking, she’s allowing herself to be vulnerable.’  

            Nevaeh blows her nose, “It’s just not fair… I didn’t ask for this to happen! She forced me out of school and takes me to the stupid police station to record myself talking about being raped. Oh and that’s not even the worst part, no, its’s having everyone know about it, but refusing to let me talk about it. Nope, she rather me stay quiet and put on a brave face.”, Nevaeh rolls her eyes, breathing deeply, “And none of them cares to see how I am doing. They all just pretend they don’t know what’s going on. And now.. I-“, Her voice crackles.

 “And she told you, she doesn’t want you to talk about what happened to you?” 

            “She said and I quote, ‘you don’t need to tell everyone, they know already’, like okay? What does that have to do with anything?”, Nevaeh shouts.

            “Besides your mom telling you that you do not need to tell anyone, what else is stopping you from speaking up?”, I question, continuing to write.

            “I-I just don’t see the point anymore. No one actually cares to listen and all I have gotten out of this, is more pain than I had to begin with.”, She shrugs defeatedly.

            “And now with the attorneys agreeing to a plea agreement, you feel a lot of regret for speaking up?”

            Nevaeh shakes her head and scoffs, “It’s practically saying, we understand you believe this happened, but we’re going to find a middle ground for everyone.”, She brushes her hair back with her fingers, her eyes remains glossy. “Why does he deserve anything?”

            I lay my notepad on the coffee table and lean forward with my hands on my lap, “All this pain and anger you are feeling is pulling from the abuse itself. I don’t believe this plea agreement is meant to be a punishment. Have they told you the details of the agreement?”

            “He will serve five years, be listed as a sex offender, and will not be able to contact or be within ten feet of me.”, Nevaeh blandly recites.

            “Do you believe that is not enough justice?”, I ask, straightening up in my seat.

            “No, it’s not enough! How could it be? It’s basically wasting all the drama I been putting up with and will continue to put up with for a slap on the wrist! I want to fight it!”, She slams her elbow against the armrest.

            “What makes you believe you aren’t fighting for your justice?”

            “Because! Everyone already believes I am a liar and this just confirms whatever they think!”, Nevaeh begins to hyperventilate, squeezing her chest. Her wails vibrate through my ears and my heart sinks into my chest at the sight of her collapsing into this pain.

            I whisper, “I know- I know people can make absurd conclusions about these type of cases and I cannot imagine how heavy this must feel for you, especially coming from your family.” My voice crackles and I clear my throat. “But, no matter what anyone says, it does not take away the fact that this happened. And you pushed forward and took it to court. The people who don’t want to listen or believe what happened to you, do not deserve to be a part of this healing journey you are on.”

            “But, how am I supposed to heal from everything that’s happened?”, Nevaeh cries tossing her hands.  

            “You already are, I mean look at you, you’re talking about what’s hurting and that is all part of healing.”, I smile warmly.

            Nevaeh wipes her wet cheeks and leaky nose with her arm, “I-I am, and I won’t let anyone else keep me quiet. I get to make my statement during the plea agreement sentence.” Her eyes widen, “and no one can take that away from me.”, We smile, silence fills the room with the faint sound of clock’s ticks, tocks.

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