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In our household there was no one to turn to for help. Violence and feral instincts were household staples, like milk in the fridge. At 5, from a narrow hallway outside my bedroom, I witnessed my father straddle my mother’s body on a couch, his necktie wrapped around her throat. When I was 6, his fist, aimed at her face, turned in a split second and punched a gaping hole into a closet door. * The next time my brother attacked me came soon after. A ten-minute shuteye I told myself as I closed my parents’ bedroom door—more cautious about where I napped. Their room had an aura of restricted access—“grownups only.” I’d only enter to drop off folded laundry or dust the furniture. It was a place where children didn’t play. I’d be safe. Nobody would come after me there. Telling my own story misplaces some details. Someone else should be telling it. I can’t. My brother can’t. He committed suicide. I awoke. Time was elusive and alertness was absent. I was an ambushed rag doll with arms and legs held into place, not unlike our Siamese cat, who days earlier had been dangled in midair wearing a choke collar my brother had put on her. Unable to escape, she put up only a slight struggle. I imagined she reasoned that flinching or showing emotion would only have made the situation worse. Bored, my brother set her free. Having witnessed our cat being tortured from a safe place in the living room, a glass window between us, I feared what would happen to me if I told anyone about my incident. I lifted up, up and far away before returning to my body. A shaft of sunlight streamed in from the window exposing floating dust particles. The fake wood paneling looked hokey, irritating. This time I exploded and fought. I had a clump of his hair in my hand as he ran away. I howled into a pillow. * Traumatized children disassociate, detach, float and reference topsy-turvy awareness. I hovered above myself as a spectator, not the person it was happening to. I did not allow myself to be in the room. I sent myself away. Recovering from my childhood comes with aftershocks. Intimacy is fraught with ambiguity. My life has been about learning how to take off a suit of armor that still feels welded on. What happened to me shouldn’t be squelched or silenced. Sexual assaults occur on college campuses, in parking garages, on stairwells, in bathroom stalls, on park trails, during rock concerts, in the back and front seats of cars, inside laundromats, around side streets, in our homes and in numerous other places around the world. Visuals and symbolic language about such a large and important issue shouldn’t be confined to a Columbia University student’s senior thesis. The weight everyone carries as a result of rape and sexual assault will be different. Nobody has the right to belittle the pain of others or decide how much violence and injustice weighs. In fewer than 8,000 words, Emily Doe, the Stanford rape survivor, shattered the silence of sexual assault. Her victim’s impact letter made people understand what is and what isn’t consent. Four days after Emily read her statement, beginning with, “You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today,” it had been viewed 11 million times and read aloud Blue Mesa Review | 44

Blue Mesa Review Issue 36  
Blue Mesa Review Issue 36