SARSAS Blog – Your voice
We love this poem from an amazing victim-survivor that is both a powerful account of personal experiences and a rallying call to action.
**TW: Sexual violence and suicidal thoughts**
We are not for the taking
As a woman there are certain things that we are expected to endure,
politely dealing with entitled male advances that if declined we are stuck up or a whore.
I know that it’s not all men in question,
some would be horrified by this but it happens way too often.
I do not know a single woman that has not experienced some form of sexual abuse,
and there is not one justifiable excuse.
Mine didn’t just start with cat calls on the way to school,
or a grope on my bum whilst I’m expected to play it cool.
I was 8 years old in my friend’s home,
when my first sexual predator became known.
My underdeveloped body was invaded,
my little girl innocence was snatched & tainted.
At the tender age of 10 it happened all over again,
this time by a ‘Dr’ of alternative medicine.
He opened a draw full of coins and told me to grab them in my tiny hand,
that was his payment for his sexual demand.
It taught me not to accept even a drink in a bar brought with small change,
as I knew it would come with conditions of a sexual exchange.
One time when I was 14 I went to the pool for a swim,
only to have the old guy next to me in the shower start self pleasuring.
I hid in a changing cubicle until I could hear other voices for my own protection,
yet I was blamed for being by myself when I reported it to reception.
At 16 I was so drunk that I couldn’t even speak the word no,
but apparently that meant carry on have a go.
Whilst we’re on the subject of drink don’t forget that it could be spiked with date rape,
I experienced this at 17 with a drink from a ‘mate’.
From then on this unwanted attention was a regular occurrence of treatment that I would receive,
I became immune as a girl it was normal I was led to believe.
By the time I was 19 me and an ex had separated and were selling our house,
he wasn’t quite done so he crept into my room as quiet as a mouse.
He decided he would try to show me what I would be missing,
despite me being asleep but hey who needs permission!
I then went on to marry where I was told sex was my duty as a wife,
by then I’d just accepted that I really had no choice in my life.
I wouldn’t want to face the aggression so I would lie there and admit defeat,
be his pound of flesh his piece of meat.
With no self worth or boundaries I’d really hit rock bottom,
a lifetime of sexual dictatorship I just wanted forgotten.
I thought of taking my own life as it all became too much and I wanted to bolt,
but with some counselling I soon learnt that these experiences were not my fault.
That the shame I carried was not mine,
that the actions of these men to me did not define.
I have never had sex with a stranger,
and I’m afraid to walk alone in the dark because of danger.
I watch my drinks, guard my smile and I delicately decline,
all the while aware that if I was raped again the jury could deem the fault mine.
Was I asking for it, what was I wearing that day,
did I lead him on, will anyone believe the words that I say?
Not all men rape and not all men are violent,
but we need to stand up and no longer be silent.
And men please if this does not sound like you,
stand up and be a strong voice for us too!
I have fortunately met a man that always checks in for my consent,
and I have learnt that is how sexual experiences should be spent.
You see we are conditioned to believe that we must be chosen or rescued by shining knights,
we are told to sit pretty and quiet whilst they violate our rights.
I have a daughter and regardless of the reaction I just want her to know,
that it is her given right at anytime to say NO!
She is not duty bound nor has she led him on,
her body is hers and she owes it to no one.
So let’s educate our daughters and our sons,
their sexual experiences should not be forced by anyone!
We’ve had years of acceptance of our feminine oppression,
but we are much more than their sexual possession.
We as women have a choice and as a woman in my making,
I have learnt that we are not just for the taking!
The latest from our news and blogs
What next for people with lived experience when the justice process fails?
I usually enjoy my job as a trauma counsellor for SARSAS – it’s a privilege to participate in clients’ recovery journeys. However, I find supporting clients who have had negative experiences while seeking justice some of the saddest journeys, and the ones most likely to invoke my anger at the injustices within this broken system.