There are warriors here

This was written and performed for the Media Initiative Against Human trafficking and Women Rights Abuse (MIAHWRA) Hangout.
An important part of growing up, is knowing the difference between what you don’t know,
And what you know,
I know that fists can split lips open like ripe fruit,
Crack noses like China,
Draw blood like knives,
Break self esteem till a person shrinks into a shuffling bag of skin and bones and shadow,
I know, that abuse, can bend shoulders,

Beat pride into something twisted,
And I know the shadow on the face of a little girl raped by her father before she could spell rape,
Or spell beautiful, or spell no,
Yet,  there are somethings I do not know,
I don’t know the taste of a 40-year-old’s penis in a five-year-old’s mouth,
How memory is branded into the back of her throat,
So, twenty years later the touch of any man leaves an aftertaste,
So she pushes the toothbrush so far down her throat,
She begins to choke,
I know there are things you do not forget,
Because your body has practiced shielding itself for so long,
I understand why you wince when someone says the word love,
And I know what walls around the heart feel like,
What sleeping with clenched fists and gritted teeth does to knuckle and teeth,
I know what it means to see a shadow behind every door,
to count as lucky those who are dead,
And I know why your thighs press against themselves involuntarily when a strange hand touches you in the market,
So, I came up with a list of things you must never say to a girl who has been abused:
1. Never ask her what she was wearing, this is not about fashion,
2. Never say she swung her hips in a manner too enticing,  her body still belongs to her,
3. Never say he couldn’t control himself,  it’s time we stopped making excuses for beasts,
4. Never ask her if she wanted it,  if she did she would not be in front of you reliving the nightmare while her shoulders shake like leaves in the wind.
Lastly, always remember this:
1. It was never your fault,
2. You can heal,  and even if you don’t, there is a collateral beauty to still drawing breath,
3. Battle scars can sometimes become pillars, look around you, there are warriors here.

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