Content warning: The following story contains references to sexual violence and coercion, which may be difficult for some readers.
"I Still Stand," anonymous
To this day I still remember every detail. I remember how they used my innocence and thirst for adventure to their own selfish amusement.
I drive past the hall where my innocence was taken, where my foundation was cracked, and I flashback to the scene. I try to convince myself once again that I am okay, that this event did not alter who I am. But I know that is a lie, I know that I am forever changed and will never again be the person that I was originally set to be.
At first I was shocked. I was not able to understand what had just been done. I was embarrassed to tell anyone because I was so uncertain about the pain that I had just endured. I wanted to be strong.
I have always been strong,
on the outside.
But inside I knew that I was not capable of dealing with this.
I was never taught how to deal with this situation. I was not ready for this storm.
Isn’t it funny how the hardest lessons in life are those that come from a moment that you were unable to prepare for? I think to myself if I had only known that he was going to force himself on me I could have prepared an exit plan.
I could have prepared a firm counter argument that made it clear that I did not want him inside of me.
I could have prepared for the pain that I would have to endure.
I could have prepared for the pain that my loved ones had to face.
Yet, this type of tragedy is not one that allows you the courtesy to prepare.
Without preparation my world shattered,
The thought of him on my body still haunts me. The memory of how it felt to be ripped apart still shatters me.
But I can’t let that control me. I can’t focus on that feeling of hatred, disgust, guilt.
This is my body.
This is my body.
This is my body.
I will not let myself continue to be his victim. I will proudly stand tall against his lingering shadow because I know that I am okay.
I know that I am strong,
that I am wonderful,
that I am courageous.
I am not afraid of him because I know that he is weak. He bowed down to his own weakness and prayed on mine. From this I learned where I was weak and built up supports to ensure that no one would ever lean on this weakness again.
I have become so strong. Even through my strength I still remember my weakness, like a childhood friend.
Time always freezes in a moment of misery. No words could ever describe what I endured.
I think about it and my heart shrinks. It shrinks and hides away in fear of the pain that it had endured. I make myself small again in fear of standing out to another predator. Once again, I feel myself become scared and fragile.
But these thoughts are only my fears coming to limit my passions, to halt my success. I know that these fears are not valid, for I know that I am strong.
Today I stand tall. Today I walk with a purpose. Even though there are cracks in my statue I continue to stand. Each crack fills with courage and hope and makes me stronger.
I am not willing to let myself be held back by the storm that tried to knock me down. Others in my situation may be scared of the rain after coming face to face with a storm, but I embrace it. I let the rain wash over me and take away the grime that the world has put on me. I embrace my pain because that is what makes me who I am.
I am a girl, standing on a solid foundation, looking for the next opportunity.
I stand strong.
I stand beautifully.
I stand purposefully.
About the art:
This piece is pretty straightforward - and it's somewhat deceptive at the same time. I wanted to use the affirmations - "I know I am strong, I am wonderful, I am courageous" - as the forefront of the piece, with "This is my body" in the background because it combined both of the major strengthening moments of the story. This survivor is determined and brave to share as passionately as they did and I'm so thankful we got to share this piece.