Trigger Warning: Rape & Sexual Assault
The night I was raped, a war sparked within myself. Years later I sit here wondering how the invasion of my body has resulted in me signing accords with disembodiment. The pretense that this flesh is truly mine shattered the night you decided you were entitled to it.
Are you punishing me for believing my body was my own?
I’ve washed myself a thousand times, but some days I can still smell you, on me. You forced your poison into me. Now you are in the blood I bleed. I try to suck the venom from my wounds, but I keep choking on your taste. You have made me both victim and victimizer; a divorcee from my body and those of other men.
Are you punishing me for believing I could walk through this world unafraid?
I never feared men until you taught me to. Just like someone must have taught you to confuse “no” with desire. When a woman pushes you off her naked body that she did not undress, she is begging you to see her as a human being. Subject over object. She was not born to become a thing you could dominate.
Are you punishing me for believing I had worth?
I wish I could say I hate you, but I’ve been raised in a culture that has taught me my value is dependent upon your’s, and all men’s, affirmation. Would I constantly mask my pain and anger if a man hadn’t told me that to be a woman was to wear oppression with a smile? Would I police and punish my body if a man hadn’t told me the skin on my bones takes up too much space; as if the volume of my body must match my power, then force me to lack in both.
Are you punishing me for believing I didn’t have to be what you wanted?
No, I cannot hate you because I’ve internalized you. Your words are imprinted in my thoughts. I don’t know what it is like to have complete free will. What does my self-expression look like when the self within has been hijacked and rewritten by a society made by and for men.
Are you punishing me for believing I was not created from your rib?
No, I cannot hate you when I’ve had to fight the insidious idea that you, a man, are inherently better, smarter, stronger than me all my life. At least someone told me I was justified in this struggle to name myself.
Are you punishing me for believing I had a voice?
No, I cannot hate you. It’s easier to hate myself because I couldn’t stop you. Because I didn’t stop you from putting the exclamation mark on a lifetime of sentences devaluing me for what I am; for being born in a space marked female.
Are you punishing me for believing I could say “no”?
By letting you look at my scars, I have let you see my heart. It feels right to voluntarily share my essence with you; it has never been someone’s to take. Thank you for giving me the space to grow into the woman I need to be. A woman who was forced to wear a mask forged by a man who saw her power as a challenge to be conquered, yet she found her resistance in struggle and her strength in solidarity. With every person who reads this, the walls of isolation built by my rapist weaken. Thank you. Thank you for silently validating my suffering by opening your eyes to the pain I endure(d). I know it’s not easy, so I thank you.