Content warning for sexual violence
1. Place your heart into the hands of men who look like wolves and birds of prey. Put your body on display for the predators who have worshipped you by stripping you down to your ruins. Pretend you are a temple, these altars are for them, this love is for the man who can best break you, hold a game show; the prize is your broken body bent into their favorite positions.
2. Take from others what he took from you. Take innocence, take loyalty, take the words out of their mouths, collect them in a book by his name. Tally the earnings on a wall like the inside of a prison cell, these bars you are all too familiar with, these walls bleed just/ like /you/ do. Take their lives away, stealing years under your belt with a mouthful of vodka and whispered tales of men who look like guns and women who don’t understand that just because your skin is marked with your own knife doesn’t mean he didn’t make you do it.
3. Stay up till 3am listening to songs that remind you of him. stay up with a boy you don’t love, a stranger, and when his anger reminds you of your abuser’s leave so silently you resemble a shadow, retreat back into your skin hoping that maybe this will protect you, maybe if you look a little more like a girl and not a woman he will not hurt you. Stay on the edges of busy roads hoping you will get hit. Stay awake on the nights you need sleep and sacrifice your own happiness for those who do not deserve your love, your love that is broken bones and blood stained steel, your love that is earth shattering meteors and falling stars.
4. Destroy yourself when you feel like you belong, you know this is wrong, you are / undeserving. Don’t believe for a second that you are more than what he made into you, a monster that looks just like him, a self medicating alcoholic who can’t hold down the house in the midst of a storm, you / are the storm. Distance yourself from getting better. Distance yourself from family. Distance yourself from “I’m here for you, I love you”. Distance yourself from yourself. Don’t believe for a second that you are more than an afterthought. Don’t let your walls fall, don’t let your body become more than a desecrated holy site, all fragments of him, burned CD’s, broken glasses, lost feelings of a little girl who was eaten alive by wolves. Don’t forget her last words, don’t forget the way her mangled face contorted into a smile when he told her he loved her, don’t forget / she’s still here.
Francesca submitted a piece several years ago to our Sunday Stories feature, which was also published. We are incredibly proud of the growth that Francesca has made in the past several years in terms of survival and writing. Thank you, Francesca.