TW: sexual assault
I thought life would be a love story and love would be the death of me. Like Romeo and Juliet.
But life doesn’t end at the big kiss like a movie does. Happily ever after is followed by not so happily ever after and then less so onwards. After the big kiss, you date for a while then you fight or one of you cheats, then one of you gets broken. In my case, I was the one broken. Love looked so warm and comforting. It was a warm summer breeze curling its fingers through my hair and making my toes curl. It was perfect until I started falling into love at light-speed and life was swooshing around me and he stepped aside to let me fall on my face.
I fell so far, so fast, and crumbled against the ground. Split into a million, tiny pieces. But even that wasn’t The End. Even then the vultures came to snack on the left over parts of me.
I went to a nightclub with its sexualised lights and pounding music, it was the perfect darkened corner to drown my sorrows in toxic waste with friends. Friends who were hooked on their lovers. Friends who didn’t notice when a stranger dragged me away.
I was alone for the first time since he had left me for her. He told me he couldn’t love me. He told me I was asking to get broken by him. So, at first, I was glad for the company of my stranger, my weakened body wanting to be held. Caressed. Loved. Appreciated. I was the injured deer of the pack with wobbly legs and a tired soul and I fell for his tricks.
He was my predator, dressed in shining armour, coming to claim his ‘prize.’
I got carried to the Emergency ward the next day. My nerves had been severed from my brain and my legs had to be taught how to walk again in time. I was carried there by the friends who had left me.
My body felt wrong. It was sore. There were bruises in weird places and my body- my body no longer belonged to me. I thought my heart had finally stopped working. Maybe it was broken and we were coming to get it fixed but the truth quickly flooded me and I drowned.
Love didn’t break me. The absence of it and the monster which was born out of it did.
I was taught years ago to be careful with my body because I am a woman and my body is my prison. My mum told me on my first day of school, ‘don’t walk home by yourself. Wait for me to get there.’ My dad told me on my first date, ‘be back by 10. Don’t let him try any funny business.’ But I didn’t listen. I, like all teenagers, thought I was invincible. I thought: it could never happen to me.
My life has a set of rules which hand-delivered me to the chair my friends left me on in the waiting room of the Emergency room. How stupid. A waiting room for emergencies.
My box was a waiting room. A bomb waiting for someone to push the button. My box never got any bigger as I grew. I just had to learn how to keep my limbs within the constraints of my society. My prison has been suffocating me for years. The rules of men, that were there to keep me safe from other men, continued this cycle I lived in.
These rules designed to keep me safe- curfews at 10pm, texts from mum every hour when I’m out, knowing it’s best to have a male friend with me at all times, don’t get in a car with a man you don’t know, don’t let a man buy you drinks, run if a man is following you home, look away if he looks at you, don’t talk back, don’t yell- these are the rules which made a nurse call out my name and I walked through into my own white hell to sit on another chair and tell the story again. To take my clothes off again in front of another foreign person. Having to tell them what that stranger did to this foreign body my soul was trapped in. How you, you stranger, you stole my body and wore it as your own.
I yelled and I fucking screamed because I have been leashed like an animal for 18 years. I am a piece of meat. I am a trophy in a glass cabinet. I am as 2-dimensional as the women the ancient artists painted naked. Lounging on a couch with innocent doe eyes. Hyper-sexualised.
I am a woman and I have been silenced by the frame that is my naked body for too long. We have been silenced. We have been labelled. We have been molested. We have been raped. We have been called liars when we accuse men and we get told the clothes we wear are asking for it. We are told it is our fault. It is our fault that our bodies are sexualised. That to be a woman means to be an extension of man.
We want to be loved, not sexualised. We paint our faces and corset our ribs. We suck in our tummies and put heels on our feet. We watch our feet bleed and wipe away tears when you cheat on us but we can’t leave you because we love you. And you think you can treat us like trash because we love you. Because we are women. Because to be sexualised means to be loved. And we are meant to be beautiful. And we want to be beautiful. Because only the beautiful are loved.
Can’t you see us trying? Can’t you see us crying? Can’t you see us dying? All for your love.
I wanted someone’s love and all I got was the loneliness when you chose someone prettier, more feminine. All I get is lust. My clothes didn’t ask for the stranger to steal me away in the night when you left. The stranger didn’t look the way you would expect him to. He was so… Normal. The lines are so blurred between the hero and the villain. How can someone be both good and bad?
The stranger in the nightclub, he was just like every other boy and I was just like every other girl. But I didn’t want him because I couldn’t have you. I didn’t ask for him to take my dignity, my respect, my body when he ripped the button off my jeans and choked me around the neck with my own shirt.
My smile didn’t ask for him to get inside me. My ‘sultry’ eyes didn’t ask for him to mangle me with my high heel shoes still zipped on to my feet. Stop telling me what I asked for. I didn’t ask to be a woman. I didn’t ask to be sexualised and no, I don’t want your love anymore. It’s too late. And being a woman and being alone doesn’t scare me anymore.