Me Too

Was it when I was 16?
at a party
asleep on the sofa
when I awoke to his hand inside my bra?
I had called him my friend.

Was it at school?
when boys, 2 years my junior,
would follow me around
lifting my skirt
my pre-pubescent body
to anyone who cared to look.

Maybe it was standing at the bus stop?
In my school uniform.
At 12.
While lorry drivers
leaned, leered, shouted
blew their horns.
Staring at my barely formed figure.

Or was it on the school bus?
Hands sliding in between seats
to touch what did not belong to them
we were all just children.
It starts early.

Maybe it was outside that party?
being pushed against the wall
his lips
forced against mine.

Or maybe at Republic?
At 17
when men would approach from behind
sticking their hands up my skirt
not stopping to look me in the eye.
For my body is theirs
I am not worthy of an exchange.

Or maybe a few years later?
When falling asleep next to a close friend
his hand sliding inside my pants
inside me.
And I froze.
Out of fear.
Said nothing
pretended to be asleep.
Said nothing
let him continue to violate me.
And then forgave him.
Forgave him.
Said nothing
because I treasured his friendship.
Said nothing
to protect his pride.
Said nothing
embarrassed that I knew.
Said nothing
because I couldn’t really believe 
that someone so close to me
could take something so precious
as if it were his.
As if he were owed
my body
my dignity.

Or was it in a bar?
He says:
“Can I have a kiss, it’s my birthday?”
And yet there are his lips.
His tongue.
Desperately groping for that which does not belong to him.
As if he had decided I was his present
taken without being offered.

Maybe it was being followed?
For what seemed like miles 
down a lonely street in Australia.
I can feel him behind me
Edging closer
Edging closer
Edging closer.
And then
So close
I can feel his breath on my neck
So close
I can smell the stale alcohol on his breath
But presenting like he is offering me a gift.
So scared, I quicken my step
Desperately searching for a pay phone.
A passing car.
A stranger.
A way out.
Finally, I’m there.
I go to make a call.
He’ll be waiting for me around this corner.
I’m not to go anywhere.
I call him.
Please come and get me
Please come and get me.
Those a million miles away
at the other side of the world.

Maybe it was when my boyfriend,
so drunk,
he could not
would not
see my eyes say no.
could not
feel my body saying no.
hear my meek voice
saying no.
The next day
I told him
without really understanding
what I was accusing him of.
For we were not taught
you could be abused by a partner
that a relationship 
doesn’t equate to consent.
He’s sorry
he can’t believe
he is capable of this.

Or maybe it was years later?
Being pushed out of bed
by a lover.
Onto the floor
forced under the bed
out of sight.
Or being smothered under the sheets
to hide me from our friends.
And then showering
after he had touched me.
To wash the dirt
I represented
from his skin.

Or maybe
it was awakening
to a boyfriend
inside me?
I was
He was
He was
wholeheartedly forgiven.
without question.
I could not believe 
someone I loved so dearly
could be in the wrong.

Or maybe it was
lying alone in my van
at a festival?
The weather so hot
I had undressed.
Opened the door
just ajar.
Awakening to find a man
at my door
at my body.
Saying I made his day.
Refusing to leave
Refusing to leave
Refusing to leave.
When I asked him
and again.
And again.
Later, claiming it was my fault.
My naked body
an open door
an invitation.

Or is it now?
When I’m scared to share this
because I know I’m not alone.
I know I’m not alone.
I know I’m not alone.
Afraid of what others think
Scared of comment, judgement.
Afraid these stories
are minimal
are not worthy
because there’s always something worse.
Afraid these stories
are triggering
for friends
for family
for strangers.
of wading into a story
I do not want to be a part of.
Where the oppressors
tell the victims
that they are not oppressed.

afraid of damaging
those who damaged me.

Or maybe 
it’s every 
When men
Pass comment on a body
containing a mind
and a heart
and thoughts, and pain and tears
as if it were their own.

For I am a piece of meat
available for the taking
here only for their pleasure.