young girl
Reading Time: 4 minutes

[Author Note: I wrote this piece when reflecting on my experience of early sexual abuse and then later, being trafficked. I could not articulate a lot of these words before now, because they felt lodged so deeply inside me in a place that I couldn’t, and didn’t want to, reach.

CONTENT WARNING: It will almost certainly be triggering to survivors of sexual abuse. I actually WANT it to be triggering – but not to survivors. I want it to trigger people who remain passive and complacent and in denial that this type of thing really happens in the US. It does. And it’s not going to stop unless those in power do something about it. This is my only reason for sharing something so personal. Because I want it to stop.]


I don’t remember how old I was

The first time a man orally raped me
I only remember how tall I was
My head barely reached his waist
My face was level with his crotch
So that made it convenient
And when he unzipped his pants
And tipped my head back to open my mouth
And I began to choke
I knew at that moment
I would never be fully alive again
Because my soul shattered
And I don’t think
That every piece
Can be saved
Even when you break a ceramic vase
A tangible thing
If you ever try to glue it back together
Which I have
(I did this experiment over and over one summer)
There are always pieces that are too small to save
They become
Upon impact
So a vase can be salvaged up to a point
In theory
If you **really* know what you’re doing
Which in itself takes a ton of practice
But even if you’re good
It will never be the same
It will be missing pieces that you could not save
Holes that consist of what is now dust on the ground
It will forever be a stranger to itself
Something that resembles what it once was
But never really the same
But vases are just pottery
And who really knows
What a soul is made of
I also knew
When I heard the man’s zipper go down
That I was ruined in terms
Of any future relationship
Because once you have been forced to do something
Good luck ever getting it
To ever feel like love
Or trying to associate it
With anything other than
And if that had been all
The only thing
The only time
Maybe I could have just thrown away
My Cabbage Patch nightgown
With the purple collar
And worn frilled edges
And eventually found peace
But it wasn’t all
It was only the beginning
Of a hell I still can’t hardly communicate to people
I can’t even try
I can’t even make myself
I haven’t
Until now
Fast forward
To whenever
Because what does age really matter
When you are dead anyhow
What people don’t tell you
Because maybe they don’t know
Is that remembering doesn’t come in soft or even violent waves
It comes in the form of daggers and shards of glass
That slice open the tourniquets you spent so long tying and re-tying
And leave you to bleed out on the floor
Before anyone else even knows
Anything happened
So anyway when I am older
I can eventually conceive
And it becomes a game
To see who can hit the bullseye
Every month
At the right time
And once they have
It’s just an extension of every other lesson
To prove to me
They can snuff out life
As easily and with as little regard
As they create it
And I can do nothing to stop them
Because they are power personified.
Even now
When I am physically free
In some sense of the word
I am still not.
The more you are passed around
The more hollow you become
Until your soul is a wraith
As thin and pale as a vapor
And your representatives are just really appealing illusions
It is hard to be in a room with men
And know
That if they could get away with it
They’d line up
To fuck you
Because you’ve seen it happen in real time
It is hard to know that few men
Would turn down the chance
To bend you over the furniture
If they knew no one would ever find out
I’ve been given to cops
A man who worked at McDonald’s
One who built designer guitars
And dozens
If not hundreds
Who just didn’t care to say
Some were married
Some were attached
But obviously not for the hour they were with me
Some were unspecified
Gay but in the closet
Or still deciding
I preferred the ones who didn’t talk
It felt less insulting to not pretend
That they gave one single shit
About me
Or about what job I worked in the day
When my soul and sometimes body
Was bleeding from the impact
Of being invaded in every possible way
Pieces of me
Shattered to dust
Will not return.
I don’t think there’s any return from this sort of slavery
You cannot see the world the same
You cannot see people the same
You cannot sit in a room and be even remotely interested
In a God presented to you as a man
When 90% of all the men you’ve ever met
Have only wanted to strip you and shove themselves inside you in every possible way
As soon as they can get away with it
It’s the nice ones who are usually the most violent
Once you’re alone.
You cannot even find a home
In your body
Because it has never belonged to you
And has betrayed you more than it has ever served you
So you just end up feeling naked all the time
Naked and imprisoned
By the will of people you hate
And now I am free
I guess
And now I’m supposed to be happy
I guess
And I know I am a canary
Who was born to warn people
When the environment
The culture
The attitudes of my little corner of the world
Are becoming too toxic for all of us to survive
But I can’t sing
I can only choke
Because when people look to me
All I can hear
Is a zipper going down
And I don’t see the point
Sometimes canaries die
Because no one listened
And that was their final warning
The only thing left they could do
Either way I was never really alive anyway
And maybe religion
With its God who is supposedly a man
Is just a nicer cage.
[Image Source: Unsplash]
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