Advisory: This post contains sensitive material and may be considered offensive in nature.
13 years old: I was standing outside my locker wearing a new pair of jeans. A popular boy stopped and stared at me. He looked me up and down, his eyes lingering on my backside. He said I looked really good and that I should wear tighter clothes all the time.
A knife was pulled out. The invisible cut made. I did my best to stitch it.
16 years old: I was at my boyfriend’s house. His older brother asked me about my personal hygiene. How did I clean my private area? I knew what the “tuna smell” was, right? He shared an explicit joke. I didn’t laugh.
A new knife. A new scar.
20 years old: I was working. A group of men asked if I had ambitions to work in pornography (because I shared the first name of a famous porn star). I didn’t know who this girl was or even what they were referring to. They were “sure” I was playing dumb. It wasn’t until they filled in the details that the all-too familiar shock and shame hit me. I was called many unsavory things. I reported them, and they were taken care of, but I couldn’t help feeling guilty and humiliated.
I tried sewing the cut, but my hand shook. The finished result was sloppy. It kept bleeding.
23 years old: The room was crowded. I had lost my friends. A group of guys pushed past. One of them stopped and faced me. He slid his hand down my waist and forced it under my belt. He began to worm his fingers down until a friend interceded.
Every time I touch THAT scar, I feel like vomiting. My body shakes. A surge of fear surrounds me. Again, the world is dark.
I look around and wonder who else has done this to a person, whether she/he is 13 or 63 years old? Who else would rather keep these scars covered–believing disfigurements such as these don’t hold a place in the process of democracy? Or that invisible wounds are too insignificant to be used in discrediting people from power?
Because the thing is, my scars have not healed. Last week, the invisible purple seams ripped wide open. Blood gushed.
And despite my best efforts, I can’t get the bleeding to stop.
I bring this up because most of my beloveds do not know the pain I privately endure (with more cuts and scars than aforementioned). I’m asking them to listen with their hearts and place themselves in my position. Or if need be, imagine their daughter, sister, friend, wife, or mother as having gone through what I have . . .
I am also asking this: if you have never been the victim of sexual assault or harassment, please, think about how your support of sexual perpetrators affect those who have been. Even sharing (one) victim’s support of a sexual perpetrator (via media) can cause another victim’s world to collapse on itself.
For while I cannot speak for all victims, I believe there are others like me. And if this is true, then so is this:
We wear our hidden scars under smiles and quiet words, because we still feel shame and fear. We do not know who to trust. And because of this, we do not know how or when to share our stories and truths. We feel judged if we say, “Enough is enough. I will not support a person who cuts women with invisible knives–someone who violates the spiritual temple that is a female’s body and the emotional world that is a female’s heart.”
For, you see, invisible scars like these can only begin to heal when others take away the knife.
And I am one of those brave enough to do so.