We are getting closer to the release of End the Silence Campaign’s first collection of stories, poetry, and art created by survivors of sexual violence. It has been a journey putting the publication together and I am so excited to share it with you. I hope that it will be inspirational and powerful to everyone who reads it. We had so many submissions that we were unable to include everything in the first collection. It is my goal to include as many of the submissions as possible in an upcoming collection, but in the meantime I am posting many of them online! So stay posted as I add more stories, poetry, and art to the site! Thanks for all your support.
Here are some new poems!
Dayce Ruth – The Days
Jennifer J. Pasquale – Illusions of Dance
Joyce Collins – The Insects Swarm Over Me
Yotibar! – Fear
Here are some new stories and poems by survivors. Check them out, feel free to leave comments, and please keep spreading the word about End the Silence Campaign. Thanks for following ETS and stay posted!
M.L. Dickson – The End of the Innocence
“My journey into reality, self-discovery and truth has been painful and at times traumatic, but also enlightening, deeply spiritual and in the end, a blessing. I have new sense of calm since I began sharing my story and no longer live the lie that my family was “perfect.” No one has a perfect childhood, perfect life or perfect family. The sooner we are able to discuss these truths—as my hero Frederick Buechner says, “ and do a little tongue wagging”—the sooner we will be able to break the cycle of dysfunction. It is only by breaking the destructive cycle that we are able to do better for our children and future generations.”
Dawn Helmrich – The Journey
“It was that day, the air was crisp
My favorite time of year, fall,
I remember feeling so good
Walking, smelling the air
I was in such a happy place…
All at once it was over…”
Ashley McIntyre – Where Are My Legs?
“But now I need help. It’s hard to admit that I cannot do this on my own. It’s scary because a lot of people have already formed their opinions about what happened. Andrew’s friends still gossip about it to this day even though it’s years later and we’re in college. I never get a break from it. It never leaves my mind. So, I’m realizing that it’s okay to ask for help, and it’s necessary to let go of any concerns I have about what people think. This time, it’s about what I need, and what I want.”
Anonymous – A Letter to the Girl Who Came After Me
“Now I can’t preach to you because I loved him, too. I stayed with him, despite the humiliation and torment and pain. But you should know all the facts. The next time he tells you he cares about you, remember that mouth told me I was worthless and that no one would ever want me…”
C. Imani Williams – Sexual Violence in Lesbian Communities: Marginalized and Silenced
“The many smoke and mirrors that sexual assault hides behind in our community are being called out. As I continue to grow, stretch and heal I’m meeting people and learning of her~stories that are changing my life in positive ways. Womyn are miraculous in all of our glory. We short change ourselves when we cocoon and clique up to the point of excluding womyn who differ from our comfort zone.”
Rene Graham – The Unanswered Letter
“Angst filled the room as the fragile young woman in her mid-twenties sat at the metal desk in her tiny, non-descript room in the psychiatric ward of St. John’s Hospital. Peggy’s entire body trembled with anxiety and she could feel panic settling in. She had a pen in hand, but hesitated at the thought of writing her cousin Dana… She hated herself for needing Dana, but she was desperate and there was no one else.”
Thank you, Roberta, for sharing your story! Here is an excerpt from our newest submission. Click on the link to read and comment on Roberta’s story.
“For nearly forty years I buried the secret deep within. To anyone that knew me my life was nearly perfect; successful career in education, good marriage and three beautiful children. It appeared wonderful and for the most part it was wonderful. I loved my role as educator, wife and mother. I just didn’t love myself. There was something “wrong” with me but I didn’t know what it was.
My final thought on ending the silence sits close to my heart. As a little girl I never dared to tell anyone what my parents were doing to me. To this day victims live in silence out of fear and shame. If this is going to change, society must change. Sexual abuse is still a “dirty word.” For those who are old enough remember when we could not use the word ‘cancer’ or ‘AIDS?’ It took the brave souls who were willing to speak out about cancer and AIDS to educate society and open the door for victims to receive support without shame. Children take their cues from adults. If we as adults can talk openly, shamelessly, about sexual abuse it is much more likely that children will have the courage to tell that they have been abused. Ending the silence is the step we need to take to end the abuse. If only I was able to tell an adult when I was a little girl…well, I am telling you now. Please help by taking the risk to end the silence and Say It Out Loud!”
Click here to read the rest of the story.
Check out the three new stories below. Happy New Year to all of our writers, supporters, and fans! We truly appreciate all you do to help end the silence surrounding sexual violence. Here’s to a year full of hope, healing, and change!
Disconnected - Anonymous
“They won’t know that the coldness comes back. That a part of me grows hard, quickly rebuilding those walls so they don’t come down. Don’t react. It’s my unspoken mantra. One I don’t even believe in, but can’t seem to break out of the trance. Don’t be upset. Don’t speak. This is what happens.
And it’s that cage, that final captor, that has allowed for the others. That has left me with the invisible mark of victim. Only some can see it, like an infared mark most never notice. Hidden in ambition, lost in personality, but those who can see through the covers all do, and they all find me. It doesn’t have to be this way. I refuse to live with it being this way.
New mantra: This is not what happens.” Read more.
“I look at my Hannah, something is wrong; I can see her fur turning dark like ash left from a fire. Her eyes are turning black as an empty night sky with no stars twinkling to light the way. The sun is battling a dark sky approaching from behind me. It is losing. It is getting colder now, I feel the rush of goose bumps all over my body, I can almost see my breath. I begin to quiver slightly. The sweet smells are turning rancid, spoiled, rotten. The grass is molding, the flowers are wilting, the brownies are burning, the dried tobacco is now a burning cigarette that closes my throat with every inhalation. I can no longer laugh.” Read more.
“I was in such excruciating pain that I could hardly breathe. I was sick and tired of the relationship but did not dare to walk away from my abuser. In August, 2007 things changed in my life.” Read more.
In these moving poems, Sarah Ann Henderson explores her journey as a survivor of sexual abuse. In her poem, “The Afterword,” she writes:
“…With that hell that I carry inside
With the tortures that I’ve ambled through
I suppose on some level I’m healing
At least I pray that’s true
And I will just have to keep writing
This life story that’s long overdue.”
Read more of her poetry by clicking on the links below:
And as always, feel free to share your comments and support the brave survivors who share their stories.
Five Survivors share their stories in the hopes of helping others with their words. Read on to hear their inspiring words:
“…My mind in another world
Thoughts racing through my cortex
The questions, the lies…”
“I bare no body, bare no name.
I wanted just to be loved; a gentle touch would do,
Then again what is safe? I thought that I was safe with them too.”
“That was the end of it, for them. But not for me. I struggled, and continue to struggle. Though I may not know the answers yet, I am alive, and for that I am happy.”
“I am not the sheltered, adolescent fool once taped at the mouth to keep me quite. There are noises that escape my mouth. I am free to speak and share and love. I know now it is not an all or nothing world, I am divided like a fraction and I can share my triumph that beaches itself on my shoulders feeling no shame in my journey.”
“The definition of rape on wikipedia is “an assault by a person involving sexual intercourse with or without sexual penetration of another person without that person’s consent.” So I guess that it happened – I was raped. It feels like an outer body experience saying that. I always associated rape with a dark ally, a forceful stranger, screams of pain in the night. I never even conceived that it could happen in my own bed among friends suffering in silence.”
Girlie, Hootie, Oogy, Squak. They sure did have a lot of nicknames for me. My mama and daddy gave me the name Girlie. They said I was their cute little girlie. They called me Girlie for a long time until my friends decided to change it. We were playing stickball outside and I had to pee. I tried to cross my legs and hold it but couldn’t. I put my hand down there to try and hold it back, but that didn’t work either. Soon, as the warm, wet pee ran down my legs, laughter flooded the playground.
“Look, she peed all over herself!”
Soon, everyone in the playground was calling me ‘Hootie pee-er’. I don’t know why, but for days after, they called me Hootie pee-er. Soon they dropped ‘pee-er’ and simply called me Hootie. I wouldn’t have minded being called Hootie if it hadn’t reminded me of that embarrassing day. At least it was better than Girlie. Mama said that it was better too.
“You don’t want no boys calling you Girlie, they be thinkin’ you their property or somethin’,” she said.
“I ain’t no one’s property,” I yelled back at her.
“From now on, you will tell people to call you by your given name, hear?”
“Yes mama, I hear.”
My mama was right. Why shouldn’t people call me by my real name? I thought it was a nice name. On that day, I decided to tell everyone to call me Olivia. It would be hard to tell people not to call me Hootie, but mama said I should and that was what I was going to do.
That’s where they got Oogy and Squak. See, my teachers had even taken to callin’ me Hootie. In every class, I had to tell people to call me Olivia. In math class, Miss Peterson called on me to answer a question. She called me Hootie.
“Miss Peterson,” I said, “ I would like for you to call me Olivia.”
The class thought that this was the funniest thing they had ever heard. They began laughing and hollering,
“Hootie doesn’t want to be called Hootie, she wants to be called Olivia! Ha!”
“Miss Peterson, I would like you to call me Olivia,” Brad Stevens cooed.
“She said her name is Olivia, Oogy Olivia!”
That’s where Oogy came from. It only lasted the day though because after school, the whole class was waiting for me outside.
“Hey, Olivia, Why you got to tell the teacher you didn’t like your nickname,” someone yelled.
“I want to be called by my given name; my mama told me to.” I was frightened of giving them any other words to give me a nickname for.
“What are you gonna do if we don’t stop calling you Oogy, tell your mama?” someone yelled back at me.
“If you tell your mama, we’ll call you Squak! What do you think of that?” Brad Stevens asked.
“I told you to call me Olivia. If you don’t I’ll tell my mama and she’ll make you!”
I ran home crying, knowing that they would never call me by my real name. I didn’t dare tell my mama what had happened.
On the way to school the next day, I walked slower, trying to imagine what nicknames they would come up with that day. Would it be Hootie, Oogy, or Squak? Whatever it would be, I would still tell them to call me Olivia.
The first person I saw when I got to school was Brad. He looked me square in the eye and said, “Hi there, Oogy!”
I walked past him, quietly correcting him. “Olivia,” I said.
He just ignored me. The second person from my class called me Squak. I corrected her, too.
“Olivia,” I said again, only louder.
I said my name more times in that day than I ever said it in my entire life. Even Miss Peterson still called me Hootie. Each time I would correct them. “Olivia,” I would say.
That was the longest day of my life. Not one person called me by my real name. I was beginning to get mad. Each time I said “Olivia,” I got louder and louder and angrier and angrier. By the time I left school that day, I was ready to explode. What was so hard about calling me by my real name?
Outside of school, a gang of kids was waiting for me.
“Hey Squak! Come here,” Brad yelled to me.
“My name’s not Squak, it’s Olivia,” I yelled back, continuing on my way.
I knew that if I got near enough to him I probably would have hit him so I just kept walking. I made it about half a block when I felt a hand around my arm. Whoever it was, they were alone because I saw all of the other kids leaving the schoolyard. I never felt so alone in my life.
“Hey Nigger, I told you to come over,” Brad said.
He kept talking, but I stopped hearing him. What was a Nigger? They had never called me that before. I would have to ask my mama what it meant.
“Why didn’t you come when I told you to, Nigger?”
There was that word again. I wanted to ask him what it meant but didn’t want him to call me Dummy or some other nickname so I just kept quiet. He was squeezing my arm tighter and dragging me with him.
“My dad says that niggers are here to serve us white folks. I think it’s time you started serving me.”
I closed my eyes, waiting for what he would do next. I could hear him doing something but I was too scared to open my eyes. After he was done, he told me to get down onto my knees. I did what he said, afraid of what he’d do to me. I kept my eyes shut.
“Open your mouth,” he yelled.
“Why?” I asked, not knowing what he was going to do.
“Just do it, Nigger! It’s about time you served me like my dad says you’re supposed to.”
When I opened my mouth, he put something inside it that felt like a banana with the skin still on it. It smelled funny and it hurt when he pushed it back into my throat. It almost made me throw up. He started moving it back and forth in my mouth. I couldn’t breathe. I opened my eyes and saw what it was that was in my mouth. I felt sick to my stomach. I really don’t know what I did after that; all I know is that Brad was crying and holding his peep. At least it wasn’t in my mouth anymore; it tasted awful. I figured that I bit him because I saw that it was all red and bleeding. It must have really hurt him because he couldn’t even speak. He just stood there with his pants around his ankles and tears running down his face. He must have been embarrassed because he pulled up his pants and ran all the way home. I stayed there, not sure if it was over. I tried to spit out the dirty taste in my mouth as I got up. I was pretty sure that I knew what Brad meant by ‘Nigger’.
I made my way home slowly, thinking of what had happened. I vowed to myself that from that day forward, no one would ever make me feel that way again.
People will call me by my given name, Olivia.