SAAM Feature 15: Rachel

Dirty Little Secret

by: Rachel Sherwyn

_

When I was sixteen
I used to lie on my back
Under the sunflowers quilted together
Sanctuary with the lights out
It was then only me, Fiona, and the knowing
Calm under the waves in the blue of my oblivion
Singing along with a sullen girl
Just like me in those times
But she was brave enough to write about her rape.
Some understand
Most do not
And when I was raped months later
After falling deep into her world
I knew then that I had been changed
Made into one of them
Those who understood
Because all who remain have no choice
But to group together and hold tight
To stand strong enough
In the face of so much ignorance.

The first time I was raped everything blurred blessfully
Drugged out of my skin
So high that I watched my best friend
As he pulled the tampon out before he plunged inside
I felt nothing.
Later
Hooked up to an IV pumping saline into my veins
Icing my bruised swollen and cut up lips
Still I felt oddly numb and removed.
Only days later did the nausea come
Flashbacks hit me like windstorms without warning
I could taste his perspiring salty skin
Glandular balls in my mouth
The fat of his stomach pressing
Kept pressing and pushing me down
All of this real like it was happening all over again.
Just memories though
Come and go and now mostly gone
As I moved on
Became a leading activist in the fight
For freedom from violation
Never faltering from my quest for five years
Until now
Because you see
Lightning does strike twice for some
And the second time hurts more
Cuts much deeper
So here is my story.

Walking into your house was surreal
I should have been scared
But I wasn’t
The moon and sky came in close
Into the kitchen that was once there and whole
Fascinating me with its emptiness
But I have always been stupid like that
Paralyzed by beauty that is still and simple.
I could not have known then
That what I felt looking up
Up and out through the wood beams
That what I felt was not just admiration
Or an acknowledgement of architecture progressing
But a warning
Because the house was once lovely and humble
And now broken apart organ by organ
Only to be put back together again
Remodeled like Frankenstein’s monster
Reeking of falsified power
The only way some men know how to show prowess
Violent deconstruction
Solely because they can
Again and again; over and over.

After the quick tour of the ruins
You showed me to your bedroom
Offered me a drink
When I had only wanted the guest bedroom
The haven you promised
Somewhere to sleep off my inebriation unfettered
And now I wonder if there ever was such a place.
Comedy on TV
I sat awkwardly at the foot of your bed
Not sure what I was doing there
Because I thought we were friends
But you were acting so suddenly strange
Mute and blind to me
So I nervously sipped
Coke mixed with a foreign rum
Tasted like Costa Rica
It’s not strong stuff, Rach. Don’t worry.
Minutes passed and I felt the lethargy fall
Felt my body fall next
Fall right next to you
And I tried so hard to keep my eyes open.

The lights blinked off
Shivering so I mumbled for a blanket
Curiously cold on this late summer night
You pulled the covers closer
Snuggled down
Wrapping black muscled arms encircling
Maybe you meant to comfort me
But all I felt were chains
Thickening and tightening
Holding me in place too close
And like an animal you rubbed against me
My back was to your front
And I could feel your cock hard against my thighs
Yes, the inevitable was coming
‘Cause I was too listless to stop it.

In some quick few motions
You got up
Walked to the dresser
Pulled something out of the top drawer
Stripped down
Put it on
And pulled down my jeans as you climbed on top
My mind was not working fast enough
I was missing things
Moments out of sequence and order
You never asked me
If I liked you
If I wanted to
How we got to this place
Where you are on top of me
Fucking the hell out of me
When we have never even kissed.

I was shocked and still half dressed
Because all you needed off was gone
You turned me over
My cunt not enough
And before I could cry out
To say I had never done this before
You were in
Doing that hateful thing
Dehumanizing me.
In my whole life
Sexual and otherwise
I never once thought about it
Never had any desire to try
Anal sex
Sodomy
YOU DID NOT ASK
YOU TOOK AWAY MY CHOICE!

It was in
Too long and too much girth for the act
Attached to a six-foot-four long body
Entirely composed of muscle and lean fat
A machine of a man
To ensure there would be no escape
From the in, out, and the endless pain
Unbearable almost
And soon I could not control my sobbing
Begging you to stop
Choking out no! over and over and again
But you kept at it
Pushed my face down hard into the pillow
Pinned my wrists
As I write this I look down
There are bruises now
Like hospital bracelets.

Turned me over
Fucking me from the front again
I am really crying now
Stop!
No!
Please, no!
Until you covered my mouth
Panicked as you whispered close to my face
Quiet, my dad is sleeping!
I wonder now
Maybe you thought I was moaning
Crying out in ecstacic pleasure
As you proceeded to tear up my insides
Move your cock around greedily
Forceful circular motions
Stretching out whatever virginal tightness I had left there.

I lost count
How many times you flipped me over
Back to front to back and then again
All I could think of was disease
Bacterial infections and viruses
You were likely bestowing upon me
And how you were so lucky
Covered and protected
Latex shalacked
And only open exposed vulnerability for me.

Fast so fast and hard
One God damn thrust after another
I gave up fighting
Turned my face away along with my thoughts
Asking God
Someone
Even the voice inside my head
To let this end soon
Let me survive
Keep my intestines in place
And let me run
But as I lay as still as I possibly could
Showing you only my wet cheeks
Bloodshot eyes
You must have known the power you had
With my tears dripping
Pools in the palms of your hands.

You sped up
And when I played the logic card
Last desperate attempt
When I told you we had to stop
That I could not keep going
That my body was dying and drying up
You started to moan
Make noises
Whispering urgently
Just one more minute, Baby!
I wanted to kill you
And I didn’t think I had one more minute to give
So you gave one last push towards the abyss
Either came or gave up trying.
I watched the condom peel off
Land on the bed
Followed by a towel you threw in my direction
Clean up crew.
I carefully watched you walk away
Made sure you were out of sight
Then stared at the sheets
Tried to wrap up the blood, sweat, tears, and shit left behind
The massacre.

You walked back in
I hurried up with shaky limbs
Zipping my jeans
Thinking of the condom
If it stayed on the whole time
I asked and you said it did
That answer was the last thingI would ever need from you
From then until death do us part.
I practically ran for the door
But you followed after me
As the pain between my legs raged
And you hugged me
Told me how to find my way home
Home
Please, yes, home.

Once inside my car I lost it
Tore rubber and tore out of there
As the sobs racked my body
Chills crawled all over me
With no regard for the fact I had to drive
So I got lost three times
Took an hour to get back
Long minutes of the burning swelling and spreading
Up and throughout
Until my entire lower half throbbed as one.

In my bathroom
Blood began to seep out
Menses
From a place where no life flows
From a place where only unwanted
Unnecessary things left the body
And I was thankful
Because my body knew you were not welcome
Your time inside was coming to an end.
The water raining down in the shower stung
But I would have cleansed myself in acid
If it meant purity would follow
And I sucked in a deep breath
Blew out a sigh of relief
While watching your noxious remnants swirl down the drain.
Examination and cleaning commenced
My fragile vaginal lining was scared and scarred shut
And I tried to coax open
The spaces you nearly destroyed
But soap and water did little good to soothe
Too many little cuts and swollen tissue patches
Red and angry like cancerous lungs.
So I stood under the showerhead
Until I felt sure
Your strong sweat stench was banished from every pore.

I slept as best I could
But every few hours I woke
For urges not normally present
Back and forth I padded across the hall
Bedroom to bathroom
It hurt to walk
To sit
To use my body
But I had to because it would not stop
So much blood
Did not stop for twenty-four hours
And now, two days later
I still bleed sometimes
It still hurts to move
And the cuts and swelling yet wound.

So here it is
Six years after the first rape
The only rape I thought
Sullen Girl by Fiona Apple plays loudly
Writing in my bedroom
On a different quilt
In a different time
With too much just the same
But unlike the first time
I don’t want to avenge my crime
Don’t want love and support
From family
Friends
Other survivors
Don’t want to be the martyr and fight
As always before
I only want to bury
Bury any knowledge of you
In my life or in this world
This will be a secret I hold
Not to protect you or even myself
But to protect the loved
The ones I will not endanger
With your heinous act and this wretched story
My pain is my own
And need not darken any other door
You may lay claim to my waking thoughts
Haunted sleeps
But it ends there
Because no part of you will reach out
To touch the ones that matter
Never.

Like the little earthquake that ate up your poor little house
This was also a man-made mock natural disaster
Used to service empty needs and a weak ego
To tear down and cover up
In the name of triumph
Conquest.

Give me life
Give me pain
Give me my self again
Let it break
Let it bleed
Let it wash away
And let me go.

SAAM Feature 10: Alden

To Those Who Think They Know

by: Alden Marshall

_

To those who begin sentences with the words
“The problem with feminists…”
And proceed to attack my most deeply held beliefs

To those who have the nerve to tell me
That the most terrifying situation of my life
Was all about my selfish personal convenience

To those who equate the fear, the helplessness and the pain
With cold-hearted murder,
And speak of “viability” and the soul

To those who presume to lecture me
About the sacred blessing and responsibility of child-bearing
And would reduce me to nothing more than an incubator

To those who accuse me
Of continuing the cycle of violence that first began with an attack on me
By making the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make

To those who remind me that I am an adopted child
A supposed refugee from the anti-child world of choice
With the charge of returning the favor

To those who say I’ve committed abortion
Not had one
And believe I’ve no right to decide what I do with my body

Fuck you and your opinions
I have no interest
In your hypothetical scenarios

I am not some case study for you to test your theories
I will not debate the philosophical and moral possibilities
Nor entertain the idea that you can possibly understand “where I’m coming from”

I will not explain myself
At least not any more
I’m done talking about it

Call for Performers

IMG_2454End the Silence Campaign, a project designed to increase awareness about sexual violence through creative expression, seeks poets, visual artists, and musical performers for a benefit concert and community awareness event on November 5, 2009. This event, which will be held at Modern Formations Gallery from 7:30 – 10 pm, is a benefit and kick-off for “Discover Your Voice,” a writing workshop for survivors of sexual violence presented by End the Silence Campaign and the Center for Victims of Violence and Crime.

Any artist wishing to perform in support of this important issue should contact Emily Monroe at endthesilencecampaign@gmail.com. Poetry, art, and music does not need to speak directly to the issue of sexual violence, but must be in the spirit of peace and community activism.

This event is designed to uplift and give hope to all survivors of violence and their friends and loved ones, as well as speak to the community about the need to address the silence that surrounds this issue. All types of performances are welcome!

Poetry Event Tomorrow!

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Come check out an amazing group of poets at the Shadow Lounge in East Liberty from 7-9 pm Tuesday, September 29. This is going to be an amazing event with poetry that will truly blow your mind. You don’t want to miss this!!

The tour is called the ELEPHANT ENGINE HIGH DIVE REVIVAL- the most compelling and notable Spoken Word experience- and will include performances by Buddy Wakefield, Anis Mojgani, Derrick Brown, Shira Erlichman and Andrea Gibson. The Revival will travel the country reviving, redeeming and relieving audiences of the heaviness of their lives, ushering scalpels out of the bounce castle, taking out the trash, so you can dance on a clean floor. Born to inspire, the Revival has engaged American audiences for the last three years with its trapeze of the soul, its tightwire acts of the mind! This year’s carnival is the biggest ever, with a cast of international performance poetry champions who have graced stages from The Tonight Show to the House of Blues to San Quentin State Penitentiary!

The tour is a fun and interactive event, which draws together pertinent backgrounds, demographics, sexualities and race present on every campus. The tour is consistently asked back to colleges because it draw a huge crowd, inspires them, connects with them and most importantly SPEAKS to them.

To learn more, check out the website: http://silverspooky.com/wp-content/themes/clean-home/elephant/elephant_revival.html

New Stories

finished-11The “Art” page of End the Silence has just been updated! Check out the page to browse work by 3 new artists.

Also, new stories and poetry have been added.

I want to thank the members of the RAINN Speaker’s Bureau who were brave enough to share their stories with End the Silence. Their stories, poetry, and artwork can be found throughout the site. I hope that other readers are inspired by these words. Please feel free to leave comments for the authors.

End the Silence is still seeking new submissions of poetry, stories, and artwork. Send submissions to endthesilencecampaign@yahoo.com and let your voice be heard.

When Words Disappear

“How come you didn’t scream?” He asked, the body of a boy wearing the face of a man.

How could she tell him that the scream sulked away in the night and abandoned her there? Just like the way we are helplessly silent in dreams, she opened her mouth and only the heat of breath emerged. Breath free of noise, free of the desperate cry that twisted inside in her throat. She reached her hand inside her throat but her fingers touched only the softness of her own spit. Perhaps the scream was hiding in the warm sponge beneath her tongue. Maybe it had circled, lost, in the maze of her closed teeth. Wherever it was, it was lost and no matter how she wiggled her fingers around in her mouth, it remained hidden.

(excerpt from We Are All Made of Stardust, by Emily Monroe)

Why are we silent? When we most need our words, they suddenly disappear. Fickle friends. Sometimes we are all silent. Sometimes there are things we want to say, but can’t quite summon the words. Maybe once you wanted to tell someone that you loved them. And you didn’t. Maybe once you wanted to ask for forgiveness. And you didn’t. Maybe once you wanted to ask for help. And you didn’t.

But maybe the words are there. Maybe they are just waiting. Waiting for a vehicle, for a story, for a poem, for a VOICE.

Submit Stories!

  • Are you a survivor of rape or sexual violence?
  • Are you a friend or family member of a sexual violence survivor?
  • Do you have a story to tell?

The End the Silence campaign wants your story! Whether it is a realistic narrative, a work of fiction, or a poem, your story has the power to open paths of communication and inspire and educate others.

Please send submissions to endthesilencecampaign@yahoo.com so that your story can appear on the site and inspire others.

I am still clearly in the process of building the site, so please excuse the mess!