By Jill Dabrowski
So is this my trial?
A perfunctory direct examination followed by a scathing cross.
An inquisition of sorts, forcing me to prove something yet again. Asking me to relive my horror, for your benefit so you can assess its validity and see if it makes sense to you or allows you to feel better about your silence. Offering you a possible way to assuage your own guilt—after you have poured over the details, the testimony and any competing evidence.
My words against his.
My vivid and caustic memories against his indifferent and evasive denials.
You are seemingly looking for a detailed list of what happened and when—in which room of which home and which body parts were involved. Perhaps so you are so you can determine under whose negligent eye the damage was inflicted. Details that you believe will allow you to decide whether or not I deserved it. And whether you are somehow implicated by the cacophony of silence.
Making desperate attempts to measure my pain on some ever-elusive scale that will determine how much I was hurt. Physically. Emotionally. Spiritually. Psychologically. As my mind and my body were repeatedly violated, my tears remained unseen and the screams went unheard.
And now I am subjected to your cavalier assessment of whether it was reasonable that my mind and my body found ways to distance myself from the horror, so I could keep surviving, even as parts of me were slowly dying off inside.
Would it be easier if you thought I was “merely” fondled?
Do you really need to know the myriad ways I was violated in order to feel appropriately outraged? Are there levels of culpability that would make a difference? Can there be just a little bit of abuse for years and years—minor intrusions that amount to major ones? Or major ones that can be broken down into smaller digestible bits, piecemeal morsels of dread and disgust that are somehow easier for you to swallow?
You do not deserve my words or my clarifications. I do not need to paint you a picture with words of the details or descriptions of things that should never have been. Any ambiguity that may exist between black and white does not make it any less caustic or oppressive or damaging. It does not alleviate his responsibility, or your dismissal. Denial by refusing to acknowledge what was right in front of you is a conscious or unconscious choice you have made to never really see how I was left to suffer.
The truth is I deserved better.
And I never, ever deserved what he did and how he was protected after the fact and continues to be to this very day. Even after his admissions of wrongdoing, there has never been an apology—any true recognition of the pain he has caused and the suffering that was created. No remorse and no consequences for him. And no way for me to regain all that was forcefully taken.
Even without the details you so unjustly demand, it is unquestionable that he violated my trust and my body.
No matter what happened and what you choose to believe, the truth remains clear—he hurt me, over and again for far too long. Seemingly endless days, months and years where he held me down and forced himself on me and in me, in ways you may or may not want to imagine.
If you know anything of the anguish, the agony or the continuous nightmares that plague my days and nights, then perhaps you will decide that is enough proof. And possibly even decide that what was done to me did not make me any less worthy of love and protection, or of being believed and cared for.
Yet I still find myself awaiting your judgment. Hoping that I can finally be held tight and truly seen, without having the persistent fear of being held down and becoming invisible.
*Originally published on Some Talk of You and Me.
Jill P. Dabrowski spends much of her time chasing children, chickens, and dreams. She runs and writes and meditates and still finds time to wish on dandelions and falling stars. Jill feels too much, sleeps too little, and is horrible at self care. She lives for the spaces in between and the people who make her heart come alive. She is rather accustomed to chaos but still constantly craves calm. She is actively working to become more comfortable in her skin, scars and all. She has written for Rebelle Society and Some Talk of You & Me. You can follow her musings and mutterings on Facebook and on Instagram.
Editor: Dana Gornall