It’s silence and

anger. It’s fear. I know what will happen if I’m alone in a room with
him again. Instead, I’m told to fix my attitude. Again. But I know if I
tell what he did, it will be my fault somehow. I am a child but I
understand blame.
I am hurt, but everyone only sees this as stubbornness.

I am a nation of defiance.
It’s finally after years of sexual abuse building up. It’s me tired
being scared and angry and suddenly I cannot stop myself. I say his name
and his crime, and I am promptly punished for causing trouble.

I am a nation of undeserved blame.
It’s telling an elderly woman who understands and hugs me and wipes
away tears, but she still pinches me when I say his name. She hushes me
when I say I want to hurt him back.
We do not discuss these things
out loud she says. You just learn to deal with it silently she says.
It’s what we all do. We do not speak on it.
And I cry again. Quietly, this time.

I am a nation of silence.
It’s sitting outside in the summer and having my hair braided. I freeze
when he walks by and tear up a bit. I spend the rest of summer being
teased for being tender headed. It’s better than telling the truth about
the cause of my tears.

I am a nation of secrets.

being surrounded by a circle of strong women with dark lips and Afros
and the most biggest hoop earrings I’ve seen. But the circle is broken
when one woman starves to death. she will not eat anymore until he stops
hitting her. He doesn’t stop of course. We say nothing as she wastes
away because “we do not speak on these things”
Another uses drugs. The blame for overdosing is of course hers alone. The man who raped her doesn’t even come to the funeral.
I am a nation of lost souls and martyrs.
It’s dancing and holding hands in the rain. Because when we cry in the
rain and nobody sees our tears. We can only cry with each other because
if we tell, we will be accused of ruining good men’s lives over silly
mistakes. I’m not sure what the mistake was- my body or what he did to

I am a nation of hidden trauma.

It’s sitting in the dark whispering prayers into the pillow. They said if I pray, God will deliver me.
He does not.
They say if I trust in him, he will grant justice.
He does not Do that either.
I finally pray for peace, but the nightmares come again. Im tired and scared to sleep.

I am a nation of broken promises
It’s my first girlfriend touching my face and telling me she loves her
because I’ll never hurt her the way a man does. It’s female friends
laughing in our spaces because we cannot trust men to be around us. We
are of course accused of hating men and condemned for not centering men.
But we don’t care.

I am a nation of femme love.

knowing which local pharmacy provides emergency contraceptives to us.
It’s knowing where to report rapes. Where to get tested. Where the
abortion clinic is. How to clean wounds and where to find antibiotics.
We need to know for ourselves because police will not care and our
families will blame us for being abused.

I am a nation of preparation.
It’s listening to our mothers and aunts yell at us for being fast. For
wearing revealing clothes or acting too grown. The blame must be ours.
We all know this is a lie. But they hope some arbitrary rule of standard
will protect their daughters. It’s easier to make your daughter change
her clothes than to dismantle a system that protects who rape, hit,
harass, and abuse women. It’s easier to pretend my tonal inflection can
save me. But it’s a lie. I cannot be protected.

I am a nation of misplaced blame and empty platitudes
It’s still having nightmares because the traumas never stop. Sometimes
it’s drinking to black out, or crying for no reason. It’s ptsd from
being a soldier but never having a military uniform.

I am a nation of trauma.
It’s tears and generations of pain and sexual Abuse. It’s nearly every
woman I know being the victim of abuse at the hands of a man at least
once. It’s fear and panic. Blame and self doubt. It’s a nation of hurt
and broken women who need rest and safety.
I am a nation of many voices and stories.
its being told The revolution is here. It’s led by the men that raped
us. The men that hurt us and abused us. The men who hit us. The men who
justified our abuse or looked away while we were hurt.
I am told
to forgive them. Or ignore them. Or rationalize it. Or blame the victim.
I have to ignore their abuse for the greater good.
Because They are the leaders of the revolution Bringing about the birth of a nation.

And I wonder-
A nation for whom?

By Phoenix Calida




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