Why do we keep silent? Why don’t we just “speak up?” It’s a fair question for someone who hasn’t ever been used and exploited and manipulated for their body. Those who have never felt the bone aching shame that comes with because used as an object and a fix. Those who have never endured the filth that you feel like you can never ever wash away, not as long as you live.
Sexual exploitation involves so much more than just two bodies. It’s a plague. A pandemic. An outbreak of bed bugs. A leprosy. As soon as rumors of the infection hits, it reaches out and touches everyone within reach. And what do people around the infection do? They run from it. They lock themselves in their houses. They cover themselves in every bit of “I wasn’t there to see for myself” and “there’s two sides to every story” PPE protection they can find.
But the real truth?
You all left me there. You left. You heard that things weren’t what you thought they were- you were shocked and scared- and you left me without a word. You ran as fast as you could, cutting me out and shutting me up before I even had a chance to speak. Why? Because leaving me was the least disruptive option to your comfortable lives.
While my life was uprooted and doused in shame and hatred and blame- while everything I knew was ripped away from me because I trusted someone who promised to take care of me during my weakest times- you picked him. You picked him because you have a longer history with him ( and it doesn’t matter that his history was filled with manipulation and unfaithfulness to his family.) You picked him because he has connections in the community. You picked him because it’s the easiest pill to swallow- you’ll just stay in the matrix. You picked him because he signs your paycheck. You picked him because he can pretend like it never happened.
And you picked me to be the villain. She had to be the problem, right? Where can find blame? How about her existence. Her proximity to him “weakened his resolve.” She shouldn’t have been so enticing. She should have stood up for herself in the midst of her brokenness and depression and suicidal thoughts. SHE should have been strong enough to fend off the man who made her trust him in order to take what he needed. She should have been stronger during her brokenness and vulnerability in order to help the man in power over her control his cravings. It was her. Had to have been.
She should have been stronger.
To the same people who saw me in my brokenness and said “we know how hard this is, we’re praying for you, you’re so strong to be working through this. Trust your therapist, get on meds, you’re not alone.” YOU left me. Where you saw desperation and helplessness and wanted to help me, he saw a chance to pounce and take what he wanted- over and over again. And now that you know what was happening? “She should have been stronger.” “We weren’t there.” Except you were. You SAW me. You knew how vulnerable I was. You WERE there.
So why do we stay silent? Because our survival instinct knows we cannot handle more attacks. Because we just want to heal and not have wounds ripped open head to toe to defend our “weaknesses.” Because we don’t want to be “the home wrecker” due to our existence and proximity. Because we are trying to reinstate the smallest amount of value in ourselves when we look in the mirror again.
We stay silent because you left us alone against an army of those that want to keep their lives disrupted as little as possible. And when we look at the army in front of us compared to the ones at our back, we know we won’t survive the fight.
We keep silent because you keep us silent. We keep silent because somehow, we feel like our existence is to blame. We keep silent because we can’t fight the armies of speculation and blame alone. We keep silent to survive.