The Blame Game
A poem about victim-blaming and sexual abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and rape.
A life unlived.
At nine months old, no one knows what she would have grown into.
A baby can’t endure such an assault.
When he was done the blood coated them,
Her little body swollen, torn and
Forever broken down.
“It was out of my hands. I can’t
Remember what it is I did to her.
And if I can’t remember I can’t be
Blamed for this
Horrific crime. Why it happened I
Cannot know. Justice may never come,
And forgotten she will one day be.”
A smiling child.
At two years, her personality was blooming brightly.
She was quiet. No one suspected
The things her grandpa did in private.
This was a secret she could never tell.
Childhood horror took her voice.
“She wasn’t hurt; I bet she
Liked it, she wanted it. They always do.
She is not my first. She might be my last.
“I’m too old
To hold responsible for this thing.
Besides I’ve convinced her to hold her
Tongue. She’ll listen if she knows what’s good.”
Pigtails and toys.
At six years old, that is all a little girl should know.
Not the feeling of an erection.
His hand holding her in place like that.
Innocence shed as he rubs her with it.
A touch she’s much too young for.
“She chose this. I can tell it by
Her big smile when I give her toys and gifts.
If she asked me to stop, I swear I would.
“Six year olds
Are so seductive. She wants me. You can’t tell me
Otherwise. My touch is something she craves.
Children all want this kind of thing.”
On a private plane.
At thirteen, she was going to become a model;
A future of fortune and fame desired.
A dream unreached because monsters lurked.
Four times he took her, once tied to a bed.
If she ever told, she’d be dead.
“She was underage. I’d never fuck her.
No matter how voluptuous or sexy she may be.
I might watch her sex tape later in life
“My wife can
Never know of my predilections.
Publicly I disavow this teen.
Continuing with other teenage girls.”
At fourteen, it seemed to him to be almost a dream.
A blonde teacher, not ten years older.
All the guys wanted her, so when she
Chose him, he didn’t know he was a victim.
A hard lesson he would learn.
“Too pretty for prison, I am
The embodiment of all they desire.
He couldn’t realize he had been coerced.
“Men just laughed.
No man on earth could resist my charms.
They claimed that it was luck he met me.
They did not notice that I laid a trap.”
The letters came.
At seventeen, but not innocent. A child in prison.
Men said they wanted him; they had him.
Escaping was no option from their threats.
No lubricant. No condom. No consent.
A child undone by violence.
“But I get lonely late at night,
And we had bonded. We had become tight.
So it seemed like it was okay for me to do this.
All the time around here and there is
Nothing to stop me, so have no fear.
Just keep quiet and you will be ‘safe.’”
She needed help.
At eighteen, paying the bills was her responsibility.
She interviewed to be a waitress.
“No experience needed,” he claimed.
She thought her boss was being nice to her.
Her boss stalked her after work.
“I follow her for her safety.
Sure sometimes I watch her undress thinking
That one day she’ll wrap ‘round me with her lips.
“She can’t know.
She won’t understand, she would overreact.
She’d think I’m some kind of predator.
But I know she needs my protection.”
To serve mankind,
At twenty-five, she was moving up the ranks quickly.
An officer serving her country was
The kind of thing that had been a dream.
Commanding her, he stood in her way.
To get around him would cost her.
“All I wanted was to touch her.
It wasn’t sex. It required no nudity.
It was innocent. I’m surprised she knew.
Her body and mine collided briefly.
It was no big deal, I swear to you.
No crime was committed. It’s overblown.”
Her dress was short.
At thirty-one, she knew better than to dress like that.
A man could see her and want to touch.
He’d tell his friend how he’d accost her.
She’s not unwilling because he’s well-known.
If she didn’t, well, she’d change clothes.
“It was only words; don’t blame me.
This was a split-second of being bad
I promise I’m actually a good man.
I didn’t mean it, this is so unfair.
It was degrading, yes I’ll admit,
But I promise that she wanted it.”
At thirty-nine, she would never believe the friend who
Took her shopping once thought that guaranteed
Him a quick fuck, so he called her a tease.
Worlds he shattered when he whined about
Her indifference to him.
“Like a bitch, I moved on her.
I thought she owed me her body for the night.
I put in all that work, but didn’t get some.
“I trashed her
For not committing adultery.
Her body I mocked to her coworker.
I knew he would never tattle-tell.”
My prince charming.
At forty, he had once been the childhood dream for me.
A fit of narcissistic rage changed
It to a night mare. Torn clothes. Pulled hair.
A pumpkin rotting before my tired eyes.
Denial too was forced on me.
“It was just a story. A ploy.
Some angry wives do lie for more money,
So I gave her money and she shut up.
“That shows it’s
All a lie, you see, because I paid her.
If she was honest, not seeking cash,
Offers of payment would be denied.”
Still on her own,
At seventy-five, her relatives weary she lived alone.
He broke a window and broke her teeth.
Forcing himself on her, he senses
Weakness because she can’t fight him off.
Legal loopholes assist his final assault.
“It did not matter if she said,
Yes; if she said, no. I was getting my
Way that night. Forcing her was my great right.
Sentence I would not get. First-time
Offenders weren’t considered a real threat.
Two months after release I started again.”
They all tell us that we’re blame.
Our clothes, our faces, our attitudes.
The people we date, the people that we knew.
They don’t care.
If we weren’t willing, if we screamed or cried.
If we’re awake or just too shocked to try.
We wanted it. We needed it. We had to have it.
It’s their mantra.
They think they own our bodies.
They think they own our souls.
After the tape came out where Donald Trump told Billy Bush that he could get away with sexually assaulting women by grabbing them by the pussy or by kissing them without consent, stories began to come out. Some were from the women mentioned in the tape. Some were inspired by Kelly Oxford’s discussion hashtag #notokay on Twitter. Some weren’t even part of the Trump discussion, but involved egregious acts of sexual assault, including the death of Emmaleigh Elizabeth Barringer. And then more stories came out after Donald Trump attempted to suggest that what was said on the tape was “just words” while at the debate on Sunday night. This inspired me to think about what other victims of sexual assaults go through, no matter their age or sex, and the ways that their abusers attempt to silence them with intimidation and money, or how they might conduct the abuse in more secretive ways so that the victims don’t always know that they are actually victims. So I wrote this, and I included my own story in it.
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