April is a month of many things. In addition to being National Poetry Month, something that obviously resonates with me, it’s also Sexual Assault Awareness Month. It may seem strange to have a month dedicated to this, but to any person who’s dealt with sexual assault – and according to RAINN it happens to an American every 107 seconds – this is a very important issue to bring attention to.
I’ve been sexually assaulted. I was lucky because it wasn’t anything as scary as rape, and I was able to get out of situation quickly. But it happened. And I was an adult – an outspoken, extrovert adult – when it happened. And in that moment I felt helpless. And frightened. And pissed. And shocked that a man, a stranger I didn’t know, felt like it was okay to shove his hand down my pants and touch me. This happened in public. There was no alcohol involved.
I’m lucky. Others aren’t so lucky. Some people experience years of abuse at the hands of people who are supposed to love and protect them. I have a friend who suffered such abuse. She’s a fighter and she’s strong, but my heart still breaks for her. And so I often write poems for her and about what she experienced. It’s not to exploit her or the suffering she lived through, but to remind people that this shit happens. And it is NOT okay. It is NEVER okay. I write poems for her to giver her a voice, to fight for her because sometimes she needs a little support from her friends.
He stole her voice when he forced
her to her knees, held the back of her head,
forced her mouth open, forced her to say
“I love you daddy,” after she’d swallowed
him down. He took her voice
when he took her virginity
at fifteen, when she was only just sprouting
breasts. He stared at her
over dinner while her mother
blurred the scene with cheap
white wine. After dinner her mother
kept drinking, seven bottles
in seven days in the recycling bin.
Her father pressed into her
while she washed the dishes, growled
she should shave her pussy, he wanted
to lick her skin. She cried into the dishwater,
salty tears dissolving the suds.
When she drug the razor
across her skin, shaved smooth
and pubescent, she grazed her wrist
with the blade, wanting the courage
to press harder, to color the bath
water pink with her dirty blood.
That night he turned the lamp on,
let the soft glow blanket her
as he slide inside, held her face tightly
and made her look at him, the bruises
blooming beneath his fingers,
between her legs.
The next day she covered them with makeup.
The next day she eyed the razor.