It may not seem original
Do not ascribe that to my lack of creativity
Or free thought
It is attributable only to the fact
That I am not the only woman to live through this
Far from it
Blame this lack of originality
On our society
And its teachings
And its lack of unlearning
The need for control
I am merely one in four
On college campuses
That has been
Can that even be considered
A minority group
In our society anymore
Can that even be
Like I did.
I had no choice but to.
I had no choice in any of this.
On that word.
A defining factor of yourself
Shoved onto you
Penetrating your self-perception
A black mark
Unwanted and unasked for
Forced onto you by another
And their selfish desires or lack of self control
Somehow it now defines you
Ask yourself.. How fair.
where is our justice.
Being burdened with this word
Let alone the memory.
Breathe it in
Exhale deeply through it.
Center it within your body and feel it’s presence
Weight on mind
Heavy on heart.
Feel the disgust spreading through your extremities
This word is somehow an ugly composition of lines
Or is it tainted with the meaning.
Focus it until you corse with the colors that I did
Mainly the darkness of self-loathing
I want you to feel what that word is
To one in four women on college campuses
Do not look away.
stare at it
It is an ugly word
Only because it is the one of the most despicable acts
One human being can use to inflict on another
While most can barely read the word
Keep looking back at it
Just to make sure its real
I wrote it there
So you couldn’t ignore it.
Deal with it for the 3 moments it takes to read this.
As I live with the memory of it
For my entire life.
Do not shy from the connotation that bites painfully into you
You want to
To shelter yourself
To pretend it does not exist
It doesn’t happen
Not to me
Not to my girl friends
No man I surround myself would do that to
My body- that I respect and honor
My soul’s sacred temple
Whose walls could never be graffitied
by such a perverse act.
It just doesn’t happen to me
It doesn’t happen to anyone
Now repeat that
A million times to yourself
And your friends
And your colleagues
Then look up the statistics
Then please contact me
Write to me
Talk to me
Yell at me
Did ignorance change the prevalence of it?
the vile truth
stop it from happening
To another woman
Unwanted physical contact.
over another’s body.
Being the one out of control…
Powerless is not a word descriptive enough to tell you
What I felt that morning
It was the first day of a new year.
that was the first thought I had upon waking.
The first day of a year of days yet to be filled.
hopeful and fresh.
Still naive to the retrospective happenings
That happened right where I was laying as these thoughts came to me.
I woke up in your bed.
Tired after a full night’s sleep?
I had thought I had slept in your bed alone.
Residual drag could be blamed on my drunken stupor the night before.
How did I get here?
Last thing I remember was..
Whats the last thing I can remember?
Ball dropping in times square
Countdown… palpable pulsing excitement
Screaming 3.. 2..1..
Happy new year!
that following time period is a sensory deprivation chamber
One I have been in before
One I have come safely out of
In the morning
After empty sleep
Later laughing with friends
Over silly things that I did
I could not remember
But thats what friends are for.
To keep you safe
To remind you of your late night
Innocent in their nature
I went down creaky stairs to find you.
To find out what laughable things I had done.
I had spent new years eve
Out. enjoying time with my friends.
Friend. I was still blind. So you were still this to me.
I find you. I sense…… Nothing wrong
I return to your room. To clothe my body. In something of mine thats appropriate. For the first day of the new year.
I see it. All too suddenly it is laid before me. Shoved into my view.
It has been called the glass slipper of our generation
And it is all the evidence I need. Repulsive. Mind suddenly racing. Thoughts
slurred together, as if the alcohol I’d ingested the night before had suddenly
come back. And ruined my ability to think clearly.
Any contents it held had long ago leaked onto the wood of your bedroom like a
It drowns me
But no memory
Of the previous nights happenings
See I thought we had an understanding
Maybe you were hopeful, we had made out a few times but 2 weeks prior
I explicitly stated
We are just friends
Sorry if this disappoints you I just don’t feel that way for
Is that not my right?
I have to know
Because it couldn’t have happened
There is no way in hell.
This really does not happen to people
At least it doesn’t happen to me..
But in a few questions
you confirm my worst fear
And I resist throwing up on your bedroom floor.
Has to be given to someone
What other target
I was the one who got me drunk
So drunk I fell down at the party
So drunk you had to carry me home
Like the good friend I thought you were
You laid me in your bed.
And then apparently laid down beside me
And proceeded to have sex with me.
To then believe my drunken agreement that
I want it
Give it to me.
My drunken consent
Its no consent at all
How can you justify that it was agreed upon by us both
When you remember ever ongoing
And I was told of it by the used condom still laying on you floor
Would you even had told me if I hand’t asked?
What gave you the idea
That you could get away with this
it was okay
I was clear thinking enough to give you permission
Even tho you carried me home
my drunken state had no effect on my ability to consent
Even though I couldn’t even stand at the party
That I wanted it even though I had told you I had no interest
When I was sober
Well tell me
Which bullshit excuse to validate your actions was it?
You gave me $40
To pay for a pill
Composed of chemicals
Which I do not agree with putting into my body
Under normal circumstances
But had to
Because I cannot have a child now
So you paid me off
I felt used
Even more worthless, as if this money was to be a compensation, a fix-it, an eraser of what happened, of what you’ve burdened me with.
As if a fertilized egg was the only burden.
I was not, in that moment
Even worth that $40.
But it was my fault
Because I got drunk
And trusted him
Sitting in my car, Repulsed to still be next to you
But hiding it , Because I would not be unkind to you
When this was my fault.
One in four women
May have believed At some point afterwards
That they asked for it
In the way they dressed, in the way they acted, in the way they flirted
Because thats what you are taught.
I want you to scream NO.
Whisper it at first.
Then scream it at the top of your fucking lungs
And put some heart into it.
Because it is time that every single person
Not just one in four women
Not just women
You did not ask to be raped
The only blame to attribute is to whomever defiled your sacred temple
Without your permission.
One in four
is no longer a minority.
One hundred percent of this
Can no longer be ignored.
And do not let that word distract you.
It is not how I perceive this
It is no minor event
No part of this is minor
One in four is too many
One is too many
So read it again
As many times as necessary
To see how ugly it is
I pray that you
You won’t do it
Because every woman
Deserves to wake up
To a fresh day
Or a new year’s first morning
Without having to live every day on
With the memory
that she has been
It all started when I broke up with my boyfriend of 3 years. I was madly in love with him, we were going to get married. But it was a bad relationship, a really bad one. I was constantly pulling him out of trouble, constantly trying to prove to my friends and family he was everything I thought he was. It became exhausting; he had destroyed my trust in any way imaginable. But I still loved him. After he cheated on me, I put my brain in charge instead of my heart. We broke up. His last comment was, “But I still love you” to which I replied, “Not enough.”
It took a while to even think about moving on from him. But when I finally started to, I began having what I thought were nightmares. The nightmares were always a little different, but very similar. And part of some of them involved my brother, who was 3 years younger than me, standing by the side of my bed. He would touch my breasts, feel around under my underwear. Sometimes they even involved him taking my hand and touching his penis.
The first time this happened I could have swore was real but my brain couldn’t make sense of it. I remember looking at my brother the next day. I remember thinking, how could I ever even think he would do something like that? He’s my sweet baby brother. That same day I asked him if he had been in my room the previous night, he answered no. I believed him.
A few weeks later, I had another nightmare. During the nightmare I woke up, and I pretended to be asleep. He remained in the room with me. He took my hand and made me touch it. As soon as I thought he was gone, I ran into my mother’s room barely able to spit out what had happened. Part of me was convinced it was real; part of me wasn’t sure what to believe. I remember puking up water, then dry heaving. Then I remember having my very first panic attack, I felt like I was going to suffocate. My mother calmed me down, I explained to her how real it felt. She believed me and went to check on my brother. When she came back she told me he was sound asleep, there was no way he could have just been in my room. My mom and I talked, and concluded that I was having hallucinations that were perfectly rational in moving on from my abusive boyfriend.
Something still didn’t seem right. Why did the nightmares start all of a sudden? I began to wonder if this was what it was like for people who become psychotic. Was I crossing the line from reality to crazy? I did not want to be someone who was too weak to handle life. If I crossed into imaginary land, would I ever be able to find my way back? If I became crazy, did my ex win? Surely I was stronger and better than that. My parents and I talked the next day. The plan was to get through the next few weeks until graduation. If the hallucinations continued, we would see about putting me in an institution. We all agreed that they would have the best resources for me to get help. I made one of my best friends make a promise to me. I made her promise that if I ever was in a mental institution and became crazy, that she would come visit me.
Later that week, my mother came to me. She had been having doubts about the “hallucinations” too. In a car ride she had gotten my brother to confess. He came to me later that night, to say he was sorry. I told him to get out of my room. How dare he think that this was something that could be forgiven with a simple “sorry?”
My ex- found out what had happened. He didn’t call, he didn’t text, he didn’t offer any kind of support.
At first I couldn’t even look at my brother, but things eventually got better. But even after what he had done, I still loved him. I wanted him to get help. As a family, we slowly began recovering. It is fall now, and that was last summer.
For part of my counseling, I did tell a couple of my friends. Most of them just sat quiet and nodded. That being said, there are some of my friends who I will never tell.
As for my abusive ex? I have since raised my standards, by a landslide! If I ever do meet someone who is worthy of me, I probably will tell him about my brother when the timing is right. Part of me is a little scared about getting to the intimate part of a relationship again. Will I be able to have a normal sexual relationship with anyone again? To be honest, I’m not sure. Some things may never be the same. But, if these past few months have taught me anything, it’s that you have to have faith. Three months ago I wasn’t sure if I would even be able to look at my brother again. I’m very proud about how far I’ve come.
I am suffering from bad flashbacks of abuse as of late. The most prevalent flashback? Having my head bashed against the floor repeatedly until I was unconscious.
I was left lying in the hallway. My mother was downstairs in the kitchen and did NOTHING to stop it. She said–how can I ever forget?!–’You guys fight it out.’ I screamed for Catherine to stop, I begged for someone to help me, but nobody did. I ended up crawling into my bedroom and falling unconscious again for almost two days. I vomited repeatedly and blood came out of one ear. I know now that I probably had a mild concussion. Nobody called an ambulance, checked on me, or helped me. I remember hearing activity going on in the house through the haze of my pain and fading awareness, as if nothing had happened. My mother did nothing to protect me.
I now know years after the fact that Catherine said she hoped I was dead. She said that to my little sister, who was worried that Catherine had killed me. My little sister was around 7 or 8. I never called the police afterwards; I feared that nobody would listen to me or that I would be hurt more in retaliation. And, this is only one incident of many.
I ended up attempting suicide soon after… and that’s a whole other story in itself. The end result was being given up to the state/made a ‘ward of the court’. I was ‘in the system’ for almost 4 years. This included an abusive foster home where I was fed one meal of ‘shit on a shingle’ a day and locked in my bedroom at night. I called my ‘guardian’ ad litem and asked her to get me out of there. I was accused of lying that I had been ‘sexually abused’ at this foster home. By whom, I don’t recall. I never said anything like that! I then ended up living with my uncle and aunt. He put plastic on my bed since he ‘knew I was a bed wetter’ (I was 16 at the time), and tried to send me off for the summer by throwing a paper bag full of camp brochures in front of me and saying ‘here- fill up your summer; we don’t want you here.’ He got rid of me by telling the judge that they were afraid I would ‘kill their dog’ and that they locked their bedroom door at night. I’ll never forget that, either. I ended up in a ‘treatment center for girls’ after that, and was kept until I was 18. Drugged, sent to ‘group therapy’, forced to pray, told that I was crazy and worthless. I then returned home at 18- I had nowhere else to go- so, I had to act like none of this ever happened. The things I have done to survive… the dignity I have sacrificed… the lies I have bought and sold.
Catherine is now a doctor- how did she swear the Hippocratic oath with a straight face? My little sister is an alcoholic and a cutter, and has relationships with creepy military-type guys. She has a degree in social work, which she may or may not ever use. But, hey- at least she has one. It’s more than I have. My mother is retired and has remarried some asshole who I hope to never meet. How nice that they have successful vocations; successful and fruitful lives, and I can barely live day-to-day life. They ruined me; ruined my life- and they don’t care or have to suffer any consequences for it. They get to exist as humans, and I am forever broken. Erased. How do I end this pain without ending myself? I burn with a desire for revenge- for retribution that will never come.
I have a bone spur sitting on my spine. It doesn’t usually hurt and I rarely think about it. You can’t see it unless you are looking at an x-ray. There are no marks on my skin or visible deformities. But, I have a bone spur just the same and when the weather is bad the pain can knock the breath right out of me. They found the spur after an accident I was in and the doctors couldn’t figure it out. Bone spurs take years to form and I was too young to have one of this size. I knew immediately what caused it but my shame was too great to say anything. I remembered the beating I took for no good reason in front of my uncle who did nothing to stop it. The pain was gone within hours but there were bruises. The bruises faded within a few weeks but this spur continued to grow as the years passed. A hurt no one can see unless they go looking for it
I am not a victim. I am a survivor. A survivor of child abuse, date rape, domestic violence, rape, mental abuse, emotional abuse and of treatment no human should ever have to experience. I’ve been torn down, walked on, beat up and verbally assaulted more times that I can count. But I am not a victim. I am a survivor.
I am the product of abuse. I spent most of my young life searching for love and acceptance, convinced if I was just “good enough” I might have some value to someone. Having constantly been told I was stupid, fat, lazy and ugly, as well as being shuffled off here and there when I became a burden, had left its mark. I was never able to settle into any kind of routine or structure. Drugs and alcohol became my closest companions. The only relationships I knew were destructive and, more often than not, abusive. I gravitated towards people that I would need to prove my worth to and accepted being treated badly because it’s what I was convinced I deserved. I was repeatedly raped; emotionally, mentally, and physically battered and abused.
My high school sweetheart left me unable to walk for two years courtesy of a beating with a wooden chair. I remember going to the hospital and lying to the nurses, doctors and police who did their best to get me to press charges. I didn’t because I figured when my own brother refused to come help me that it must have been my fault. I must have done something to deserve the beating. The lesson I should have gained from being told that it would be years before I would walk again was lost on me because when I went to my mother for support I was told, “You’d better get used to it because that is how men are.” Then she proceeded to beat my head into the floor until I had a concussion in front of family members who did nothing to stop it. This simply fueled my continued belief that I was unworthy to exist.
I launched myself into downward spiral after spiral of drug and alcohol-fueled bad choices and abusive relationships. I got involved with a crack-head who sexually abused me and stole my money. A wannabe “wiseguy” who used psychological torture, as well as emotional battery, to keep me in my place. He had convinced me I could not survive without him and he was just like my mother who lavished clothing and jewelry and gifts on me so to the public I looked perfect–and then he would beat, berate and belittle me in private. A married man who used my desire to be let out of that gilded cage for his own twisted sexual wants. Until ….
There finally came a day when I came to a place in my life where I was either going to literally lie down and die or get up and fight. I chose the latter only, instead of fighting for or against other people, I fought for myself–for my sanity, for my life. I walked out the door and never looked back. I left it all behind, the men, the drugs, the alcohol and the family who really wasn’t much of a family at all. With every mile that passed I felt the toxicity begin to slough off like dead skin cells. With every day that passed the fears would lessen. It would take years for the emotional hurts to even begin to scar over and some haven’t to this day.
But I can stand here today and say that I am worth something. I have value. I am a good person. I am kind. I am compassionate. I can give and accept love. I am smart. I am talented. I am alive! I am a survivor! I am a survivor and I am here to tell you that you have value. I am here to tell you that you are worth more than the world tells you that you are. I am here to tell you to fight for yourself. You are not alone. There are many of us that are pulling for you even when you can’t see us.