New Feature: Thom Rispoli

Check out our newest featured story. We are featuring a new poem, story, or artwork every day this month so stay posted!

In his story, Thom Rispoli talks about the sexual abuse he survived as a child. Here is an excerpt:

“A child’s mind is truly amazing. If something is too difficult to deal with, the mind just blocks out what happened until it is able to deal it. You cannot choose when the memories that you have suppressed will resurface. The memories may come at time when you are ready to deal with them, but is anyone ever really ready to face the reality of the past abuse?” Read the rest of Thom’s story.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Yesterday marked the first day of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. End the Silence Campaign is committed to providing survivors with a place to tell their stories, as well as increase the number of REAL stories told by the people who actually experienced them. A month devoted to awareness about sexual assault is the perfect opportunity for more survivor voices to be heard.

So, in honor of this important month, End the Silence Campaign will be featuring a new writer or artist each day. A new poem, story, or artwork will be published on the site, so stay posted! If you would like your submission to be considered, feel free to submit it online. If your story, poem, or artwork is not featured during SAAM, we will be sure to post it as soon as possible!

Check out our first feature, Kacey Coffin. In her powerful letter to the man who raped her, she writes:

“I wanted to start this by saying dear and your name, but I don’t feel as if you have earned the right to be called by your name. There is a concept of your true name, and to know someone’s true name is to know their soul. You have not earned the right to be called by any name. When you shatter the soul of a child and leave her to put the pieces back together over 22 plus years, you no longer have the right to your own soul…” Read the rest of Kacey’s letter here.

Our First Collection is Here!

In Our Own Words – Volume One , End the Silence Campaign’s first collection of stories, poetry, and art by survivors of sexual violence is here! In this collection, you will read accounts by men and women of all ages who have survived rape, sexual assault, and sexual abuse and found hope for their lives and for the future. You will also see some breathtaking artwork that captures the complex range of emotions that survivors of sexual violence face. It is our hope that this collection will increase awareness about sexual violence, while inspiring and empowering anyone who finds comfort in these words. Thank you to everyone who submitted their work – we couldn’t do this without your support! If this collections inspires you, feel free to pass it along to anyone that you think could benefit. And as always, keep posting comments on the site and spreading the word!

Click here to download and read In Our Own Words – Volume One.

New Poems!

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

New Story – Roberta Dolan

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.

New Stories!

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.

Taking Luck – Lee Ann Walker

“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.

Abuse Story – Jennifer

“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.

Five Survivors Tell their Stories

Five Survivors share their stories in the hopes of helping others with their words. Read on to hear their inspiring words:

Ashlie M.Paper Cut

“…My mind in another world
Thoughts racing through my cortex
Emotions inflamed
The questions, the lies…”

JenniferBroken Angel

“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.”

Kate HillenbrandMy Story

“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.”

Lee Ann WalkerMore to Me

“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.”

Renee K.My Own Pearl Harbor Day

“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.”

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.