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In my opinion, no matter what happened, the victims also played their part in being assaulted. No offense, but why would they wear such provocative outfits? Why didn’t they fight back? Men are lustful. It’s not their fault that they got aroused with women in shorts.

Regina had to hold everything she got to not burst into tears. There was a lump formed in her throat. She felt her heart was like being stabbed repeatedly with a sharp knife. She quickly apologized and left the room immediately with her hands in her mouth. The air suddenly became thick with fear, making her harder to breathe. Regina was on the verge of crying. The flashbacks soon occur; invasive and upsetting. Panic slowly rising within her. Her hands were trembling from the fear. She still remembers everything—even to the smallest details—like it was yesterday.

It all happened years ago when she started her career.

Regina Mills was Mr. Leopold Blanchard’s secretary. The man himself is renowned as one of the best financial analysts in town. Everyone claimed him as a loving husband and father; one that has integrity. The story began when she had worked for him for about eight months. On one cold winter evening, Regina was just about to sign out for the day. Her intercom beeped, Leopold said he needed her assistance that instant. Regina didn’t think much nor even she had any suspicions.

She was wrong.

Regina politely asked what can she do, but all Leopold did was gave her a one-sided smile. The man walked into her direction, and she froze. Leopold grabbed her by the waist and whispered how beautiful Regina looked that day. He smelled like cigar and liquor, which made her scrunched in disgust. Regina pushed him away to no use. His grip on her only grew stronger.  He pinned her to the wall while his hand started roaming around her body. Her stomach turned under his touch. He didn't stop there. He also rubbed her thighs in a way that nearly made her threw up.

Leopold gave sloppy kisses on her jawline and down to her neck. Her lips trembled. The man kept whispering dirty words into her ears while his hands worked on her bosom, fondled them greedily under his palm.

There are moments when time stops. Regina just wished it would stop for something other than this.

She could feel this lecherous man gave her hickeys here and there, marking her as if she was his own. His hand firmly squeezed her ass and bit her ear. Regina felt dirty. There would be no amount of bath was enough to get this feeling off of her skin. She froze. Her mind had stopped working. Leopold finally let her go after minutes that felt like an eternity. He kissed her cheeks, saying that one day they should do this once more. Regina grabbed her things hastily and ran for her life. She was crying down the street, but who cares? She had just been humiliated. As soon as she got into her apartment, Regina locked herself in the bathroom, sitting under the shower letting the cold water rained down on her. She felt ashamed.

She was traumatized, barely functioning for weeks, had fallen into depression. Her father was the one who convinced her to seek professional help, to get into sessions. It helped her with the symptoms, but it will never cure her completely. There are days when she could not avoid any triggers, like today. A casual Friday night turned into a nightmare.

A soft tap landed on her shoulder and scared the hell out of her. Thank goodness, it was just Robin. He didn’t say anything. Instead, he led them back to their car, where Regina finally break down in tears.  Again, he didn’t say anything. He just rubbed small careless circles on her back. Robin knows better than to shot her with questions. He is well aware of what happened.

It was when her wail died down into quiet sobs Robin finally said: “I’m sorry you have to go through it again.”

“I wasn’t even wearing something provocative…” She sounded pretty defeated, “I’m sorry I ran out like that. That’s too much.”

“No, Regina. It’s not your fault. It never is, and it’ll never be.” Regina fell into his embrace. Resting her head on his shoulder, she inhaled his woodsy scent that somehow, someway, always calming.

“I never understand why they always blame us, the victims. I tried so hard to get out of that hellhole. It was never easy. The traumas, the pain; those things linger. They will never understand until they stand in my shoes.”

He planted a kiss on her temple, “I completely hear you. You have come so far. You’re the strongest. I’m sorry it all happened to you,”

She sighed defeatedly. “It has been years, Robin. Probably over a decade. But it still hurts. And I didn’t know it would hurt this much – even after years.”

Regina didn’t say much after. She burrowed her head deeper. Robin felt her tears were dampening his shirt. He rocked her, running his hand up and down her spine and kissed her crown now and then.

“I am so proud of you, Regina. Thank you for being so resilient. I know your world had burned and crashes, but you’ve let the beauty come out of ashes. It’s not perfect, but you’re not where you used to be. You’ve grown – and those, what makes you beautiful, love.”  He reached for her hands, raising her knuckles to his lips. He knew he wasn’t there when it happened, but he understands her completely. His adoration is pure, sincere. She had come so far—incredibly far—and he loved her for that.

“Thank you,” she said as she leaned back to her seat. Her fingers fiddled with her purse, “thank you for believing in me.”

He smiled, caressing her cheeks with his thumb. “Always,”

Just like that, her heart simply fluttered. Robin is a good man, the best indeed. Regina is way beyond glad to have him as a life partner. Regina would never ask for anything more. She already has everything she needs; it is right in front of her.

“Can we please go home? I would love to spend the night cuddling rather than going back inside.” Regina asked shyly and got a hearty chuckled from him. Of course, Robin would love to.

Before pulling off from the parking lot, Robin managed to make a promise – a vow he knows that he could and always would fulfill.

I will always be with you. I am not going to leave you. If something like this ever happens in the future, you are never going to suffer by yourself again. I promise.”