This has a slight trigger warning, so take care when reading.
He was an incredibly powerful man.. 14 years later the thought of what today, a day that marks the beginning of my life, a cause for celebration, has come to represent, still manages to physically reduce my now adult body to shakes and my mind to less than functional. my desk at work was covered with flowers and birthday cards, my housemates made me breakfast, my facebook wall and twitter feed are full of well wishes. I have yet to reclaim them as anything other than reminders of a day I really cant, but want to, forget.
On this day, November the 29th 1997, I had friends from our neighbourhood over and had volunteered to clean up our mess while mum returned them home. We were just children, really. We knew absolutely nothing about anything but pretended we had all the knowledge we needed about everything. I think back on what life was like then. It was a voyage, from school, to drama and dance groups, to creative writing lessons and choir. It was relatively simple. Except for the shadows my stepfather cast on the walls, the way he would loom over us with the ever present danger of something happening… And on that day, when we were alone, it did… he raped me.. I don’t remember the actual event in great detail, and if i did those details would most likely not be divulged here, but what I do remember is the violence, the anger, the brutality and the absolute sadistic disregard he had then, and continues to have, for my life, my personhood, and my rights as a young person. It was then that my whole world began to be shaped, my fragile sense of self was cracked, and is only now, at the age of 28 being rebuilt. I equated men with exploitation, and developed a disdain for those in any sense of authority. The police couldn’t help me, he was one of them. So i learned, from that day, the only person I could rely on was me. Even though my mind was fragmented, cut up into a thousand pieces, it was still mine. I used it to survive. But even as smart as I was, I couldn’t help but feel I now had a secret. A secret that wasn’t shared with the girls i went to school with, a secret that set me apart from them. It wasn’t untill 14 years later, I have begun to realize my power. My dignity, my human rights. This is not the way any child’s life should have to be shaped, and for as long as I continue to live, I’m going to try and make sure we’re looking out for the people in our lives that cannot speak up for themselves.
I’d like to end with a note to the young women I have met, as a professional, activist, writer and friend. If this is happening to you, understand that there are people out there who will respect, believe, and listen to whatever you choose to tell them. Your lives, souls, minds, and rights are of vital importance, way too important to be surrendered to anyone. You, most of all, as bad as you feel on the inside, are beautiful, powerful, and full of dignity.