Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence stands in solidarity with survivors. We want to elevate the voices of survivors during Sexual Assault Awareness Month as part of this year’s theme: “Embrace Your Voice.” We collected artwork and poems from survivors who wanted to share their stories. These are some of the submissions we received.
I wrote this poem in March of 2016, the year I began healing by bringing holistic healing and stress management practices into my life. It is a piece expressing gratitude for all of my life, the struggles as well as the successes, for every experience played an important role of making me who I am today. The far off place I was in was disassociating from my body for most of my life. I felt empty, hollow, robotic, and numb as I dissociated through physical, emotional, and sexual abuse periods throughout my life.
This year, I turned healing inward and I am holding onto H.O.P.E. (Holding Onto Personal Empowerment) as I embrace self-love, acceptance, true forgiveness of self and others, and an emphasis on an attitude of gratitude. I wrote these words in 2016, and this year they became sincere as I have finally fully and completely welcomed my inner child back home to a safe physical form. I am now truly free and whole.
Now that I have changed my attitude
With a well needed dose of gratitude,
I can finally see that I can do amazing things
And spread my well earned wings.
I had been in a far off place unaware
With my gratitude glasses I began to stare,
Looking back at all my struggles of my past
I saw the light and knew my pain wouldn’t last.
I can see I was being set free
Free to spread my wings and be me,
My years of abuse and trauma down in the mud
Has lead the way to bloom my unique lotus bud.
I AM observant, imaginative, respectful, and expressive
Even with all the genes that are dominate and recessive,
I AM strong willed, stubborn, apprehensive, thoughtful, and fearful
All that I AM I can now be accepted and oh so grateful.
I AM kind, resilient, nurturing, empathetic, and strong
And I have forgiven myself and others for all the wrong,
I AM caring, deserving, worthy, lovable, and smart
All that is in my past and present has played it’s part.
I can now blink and open wide my brown eyes
Shut the doors on all the negative lies,
Stand tall and hold my head up high
As I continue to reach for the sky.
(Coat on) light off
The fear is real everyday
You have pulled me into the darkness with you
I can’t see
You have taken away my light
You have taken away my abilities to love
You have taken 5 years away from me
I am ready to take my life back (light on) (coat off)
I am breaking the walls down
I am taking my light back
I know my self worth
My light lets me shine bright like sun
I will never look back
You can’t have me anymore
You are dead to me…
Darkness into light
This is the opening reflection on the various forms of sexual assault I’ve endured in my lifetime.
With whom I stand,
I stand alone.
But someone unknown.
Standing in a corner,
With so many tears,
Searching for love,
Finding only fears.
Leave me alone,
I would yell.
He would only say,
Don’t ever tell.
Someone else was hurt,
Was it not I?
For I did not feel,
I would always lie.
Standing alone out there,
I would feel no pain.
Only black despair,
In a barn somewhere.
Let me go please,
Let me be free.
I’d be better alone,
Way up in a tree.
I’ll fly away,
Like a helpless bird.
Searching for me,
Leaving that tree.
Who was that girl,
Who took the pain?
And left me aside,
Without trust to gain.
Was it not I. Yes I!
Now let me be!
For I will not lie,
Now that I AM FREE!!
I’ve heard too many stories of sexual violence from too many women. These conversations have happened in the dead of night, to make sure that no one else can hear them. They’ve been offhanded comments to show solidarity with a scene in a television show: “Yeah, that’s happened to me too.” They’ve burst forward in moments that are too similar to bad memories.
And I’ve never had to ask. Not once. If you talk to a woman long enough, the stories come, because the experience of sexual assault and harassment is so common that it becomes interwoven with the other threads of women’s lives. A story about happy childhood events takes a turn into a bathroom where no adults are around. Talking about old friend groups is a setup to how one of them took advantage of her while she was drunk. Sharing sexual likes and dislikes inevitably becomes a discussion about why she doesn’t like certain things, because an ex did them to her without asking. I’ve become a repository of survival stories for the simple fact that I know women.
These stories have come from women of color, so there are no rallies or #MeToo movements. These women are ignored by the mainstream and silenced by men of color who demand absolute loyalty to the race and the culture. Blackness trumps all, so white women don’t show up for them and black men are their abusers.
We may claim, “Not all men!” but all men are men. We are all part of a system which trashes women for being prudes and trashes them for being sluts. We have all catcalled a woman, or stolen a woman’s intimate pictures, or described getting sex as an act of “applying pressure,” or grabbed a woman without her permission, or followed her on the street, or struck a woman for not acceding to our sexual advances, or killed a woman for shattering our fragile sense of manhood. We have all done these things because we have all heard about them or seen them, and done nothing.
I expect that I will hear even more stories as I meet more women. There will be girls who were abused by the men tasked with protecting them. Women will have had their trust violated by men who were secretly waiting for their moment to attack. Men’s silence is more than just complicity, it’s aiding and abetting. We are accomplices to the hurt and suffering of women in our communities. Yes, we must listen, but after we’ve done that, then it’s time to take action.
No more stories.