Things I Did When I Didn’t Have the Strength

Things I Did When I Didn’t Have the Strength

I made tea sometimes
Lived on coffee just to get through
Talked to the suicide line
Even though it was awful mostly
There was the occasional random
Cool person who said the right words & inspired me
but mostly shut up and listened and said insightful things
when they did speak
I stayed awake all night
To avoid nightmares
I talked all night
To avoid nightmares
I took herbs
I stopped eating
I ate chocolate, (dark only)
tried to give up tea
and coffee mostly
I managed to get to the store
And was comforted when the security guy smiled and was kind
I shared a poem
I stayed alive
Just stayed
I tried to call rape crisis
I called rape crisis
I called out loud and
put the phone down every time they
said “your twenty minutes is up”
Is an insult to survivors
I registered a complaint with the charity commission
against the dire verbal abuse by   victim support operatives
at an organisation
who mainly seemed to undermine
I talked with other women
about setting up our own

I found new female friends also survivors
Who are like me
Doing powerful artistic work
Or inspiring groundbreaking work
Spoke out even just on a place like face book
Somebody heard
I stopped accepting a pat on the head
Not that I ever did
I blocked ass holes
I filed a police complaint
I made lists of things I had done
When nobody else did
I told other survivors how amazing they are
I told other people who supported me
How amazing they are
I noticed I felt a little chink of amazing coming through
I planted seeds
I watered them when I had the energy
I opened the door sometimes and looked at them
I took photos of sunflowers to show how things can grow from

A little seed
And I told people sometimes my
Agoraphobia was so bad
I could not even open the window for six months after
The man raped me
I stopped saying I got raped
and used the form: a man raped me
I wrote a letter to send to every neighbor
Imploring them
Not to open the door to the perpetrator
I named him
If the police are useless, I am not
I have the power and the right to do this
If you will not protect me
I will speak up myself
I remembered the power of my own voice
I locked my bedroom door
And I slept
I woke in the morning and felt
A little chink of grateful
A little chink of love
I made tea
I thought about making music again
That was a start
I went to a live music venue with a friend
I sat through the concert and I begun to
enjoy it even though I felt like leaving
after ten minutes and
I enjoyed it more
as the afternoon went on
When I got stressed I left the situation
I did not go back to a healer
Who made me feel uneasy
And inadequate
Despite his seeming magic powers
I remembered my
Own powers
And the people
Who appreciate them
I stopped waiting
Not that I ever did
Waiting sucks
Step foward
Move a little
Stir the pot
Make time poems
Play with sound
Enjoy art
Let other people
Sometimes do the work for you
Appreciate them
Pay dues
Accept gifts
And I made myself eat
Green vegetables
At least


Girl Survivor Logos created by Siobhan Sands
#DontbeSilenced #BreaktheSilence #ThingsIdid #RapeSurvivor

We are Sovereign

We are Sovereign

weare sovereign sepia pink 13
It’s not a sign of
It’s pain
She who
Could not meet your eye
Lowers her gaze
Looks the other way

Each one of us
Holding secrets
That would blow your mind
Break your heart
Marriage and relationships
With nowhere else to go
Bringing violence right here in my bedroom
Unspeakable brutality home
To your sons, daughters
Normalising what should never be
Stealing our dignity

She says
“Each day
The sunsets
Oh god
Shake my body
I want to kill myself
My life is hell
He drink and drink
And then
He come into my room

I’m so angry
At the inactivity of men
To change anything
This is not a problem
Of women

The violence of men
Upon your sisters
you who turn your backs
Look away
Take advantage
All in your own way
Do nothing
To change the law
Make your own report
Get her to
Do what you want
Feed your sense of

You have no right
No right
Repeat after all of us
No right
To take away our rights
Destroy us inside
We owe you nothing

Each one human
Each one equal
Each one fuming
With the indignity
Of her wasted
Precious time
Her exploited
Precious life
Her voice that was
Drowned out
Her unheard shout

If you could put
The screams
The horror
If all the worlds women
End to end
There would be
No silence
No indifference
No submissiveness
No war on helpless poor
Young girls who never saw
Any other way of life
No power cut

All our energy could
Light up cities
No silence
No quietude
No punishment
Of the feminine
No shame
No victim blame
No embarrassment
Just in feeding our children

No women’s problems
They belong to humans

We are sovereign
We are human
We are queen
We are you

Sex is not violence
Sex is not degradation
Sex is not
Against my will
Sex is not fear

Love making
Is not hate
It is not persuasion
Forced pregnancy
He can take
Sex tapes

It is respect

It is not domination
It is not
My indifference
My shame
It is not
My taking it
Again and again
© GS 23 March 2017 All rights reserved
we are sovereign photo hands 14 copy 4 .20 c **
I wrote this after speaking with beautiful friend from Gujarat- After I had just reported to police, I had assumed her silence when I disclosed, was due to lack of empathy- I was devastated to find out that she had gone through similar experiences. GS

Hands on wall photo by Max Bender

#WeareSovereign #Consentis #SilenceHurts #NotOkay #BreaktheSilence #RapeSurvivor

I Couldn’t Name It

I Couldn’t Name It

I couldn’t name it
The enormity of the act
Putting it back
To erase
Stopping it
After it was
 already too late

I couldn’t control
It on the night
But afterwards
I, wanting to deny

If I could make it go away
By washing
Saying nothing
Speak in anonymity
To try to heal just me


In silence
His pain
His mental state
The reason
Like an accident
A thunderstorm
In a tea cup
Somebody to tell me
It was nothing
Is All I seek

The enormity
Already buried
Deep in me
In my shattered room
my heart
my womb
Which he wanted to impregnate
And did not bleed again
Since that day

The real name for this act
I could not say
The truth about my pain
My shame
I never wanted 
to acknowledge
He did this 
To me

He was
Cold as ice
I was petrified
He ignored my cries
He knew his needs
He meant it
every step
Every thrust

I said i didn’t
Want sex
I said I said
Said it again
He says
I know 
I should have been 
more careful
I didn’t realise 
what was at stake
It took a long time 
to get going 
cos of your pain
I could not find a name
for my heart ache

This violence
Soul level
Hurt my whole
tiny sensitivity
Trashed smashed
And left to bleed
It’s like he wanted to kill
What is inside me

Not put off by my screams
Not really
His erection
Tells me everything
Like coke and viagra
In his blood stream
Going going going
And going
No mercy or compassion
He drains all of hers
Sadistic pleasure 
In her devastation
Makin it her duty
To make him come

Afterwards when he
Left her home
He says he’ll stop it now
To protect us both
To protect himself later 
He knows his own danger
His rage
Only matched by his anger
When she  took the mornin after pill
 she was at   the hospital
His momentary terror
When he realises he might be
Called out on his behaviour
Arrested for 

Quickly superseded by swagger
And arrogance 
He doesn’t even ask
For a lawyer
So sure he can blag
And talk his way out of the corner
The police recorder no bother

He knows
Only the women get 
Accused of lying
He’s still laughing

She’s still grieving
Her insides still bleeding
Stomach still heaving
Spine burning
Throat rasping
She lost her appetite
Since that night

She never goes out
She just avoids
Her voice drowned out
In all the noise
Rape is a crime of choice
Vs no choice
It is not a story with two equal sides
It’s a violation of rights

It is an act of premeditation 
Not a misunderstanding of a situation 
He did not misread a signal
He knew full well. 

He manipulated his way in
He’ll manipulate his way out 
It takes a real skill 
To see what this is about

In the intoxication
Of waiting for something so long
You can overlook things that are wrong 

Don’t be fooled
Friends, family
And boys in blue
Don’t leave him 
Laughing at you

I couldn’t name it
Still no words 
To express this 
Terrified of pressing charges
Being called a bitch
Yet being told if he does it again on your head be it
Petrified of inciting 
His wrath
Perhaps that of neighbours too
I fell into the compassion trap
Then to be humiliated
By rape interview
They say no man never admits
What were you wearing ? 
You wouldn’t believe they still
Ask these questions 
The WPC made me say penis 
On video 
like otherwise it’s not true
Just in case you weren’t sure about my humiliation
Now you knew
Better than his letter
abandoning me to a 
living death, yes-
They dismiss  my trauma  
 casually as ordering extra croutons
Couldn’t name it
Some of the reasons

15 March 2017

#IcouldntNameIt #GirlSurvivor #MyBody #NoMeansNO #FearisNotConsent # RapeSurvivor
If you are in two minds whether to report or are afraid to speak out, you can call a SARC- your local sexual assault referral centre- It was a while before I found out – Would make all the difference to know about this and go there as soon as possible- they can be very helpful to help you decide if you want to report and get you tests done and counselling etc- Please reach out to try to find other survivors if you can- don’t be alone x GS

Photos with thanks to Kristina Flour and Marco de Waal

Prayer for my Room

Prayer for my Room

I watch her
Violence happened here 
I can’t abandon her
No matter how much
I still hear her screams 
No matter how much
She burns 
Under the cold glare 
of police neutrality 
I always said I wouldn’t be that girl
To beg to plead
To tell a man no no please
Then there was me 
All words masked by my own screams
Humiliated to the position he wanted me
A voice exploding in my head
“I did not agree!”
No words came out
He crushed my breath 
With his weight
His force
His swear words
From pornography
I tried to move my hips 
But he was too heavy
I lay there waiting for him to complete

So every story
has 2 sides 
Yeah, Like this one 
and my room
He violated us both
And one at a time

People talk of the power of rape
I want to strip that all away
Like he stripped my dignity
Long before he stripped my clothes
I couldn’t see
No, the wood for the trees
Sparrow in a net
Rabbit in headlights
Caught in a machine
As he squeezed me thru
Unmoved by my pain
and hers
no one heard
No cliches no words like these express
My fear, terror 

One girl is not enough
It would take a posse of women
To heal this
All with real powers 
Like witches
They could take us
Burn us at the stake, yes
Steal our herbs away
Replace them with pharmacy 
Penises cast in stone
The injuries he caused
Leaving me to feel like 
jelly and bone
As my body wastes away
I cling to life
By telephone cord 
And dull -lit screen
Since no friends wanna come round any more 
Afraid to be faced with true life catastrophe
When in reality it’s just one girl  tryin’ to heal

My room is like a quiet woman
She hangs her head in shame
Trying to make sense
Of the pornographic storm
That shattered her face
But for a few stains
After some kind of a bomb went off here

Still I watch her
Still she grieves
Silently she weeps
No one sees

I couldn’t leave her
Just like one bereaved
I curl up by her belly 
And I try to sleep

Can I hope to 
Console her?

So many wakeful nights
No need for cctv
The whole horror show
Plays inside of me

The ultimate control
If he could
Impregnate me

I woke up and it was spring
Daffodils are blooming
Last time I looked it was cold
It was new year
It was January 
My clock stopped there 
Now it’s too hot
For my too many clothes
Im löst  
Im still picking up stuff
Dropped on the floor
that night
no one knows
The grief my cries 
For those missing months
My Time
Gone forever
Together with the parts of me
They scraped away 
In the gynae suite

Stop tellin me, try therapy
What d ‘ya know
I Did that already
Stop throwing me futile leads
Some things
Are deeper than that
This wound is more than a gash
In our background
Of rape culture
New men like vultures
Circling for prey
When they hear what happened 
It’s not your fault
They say
Who’ll be the first
To call me a liar
I heard all these pointless words before
I heard them in my head again
Before you ever said them this time
I already made my decision
To speak out about this crime
You ignored my ‘no ‘
When you set up the justice system
Just so

I don’t see you in the streets 
At parliament
Protesting my rights
No matter
How much your handwringing afterwards
Yet you say you care 
While Wanting to assert your
Domination everywhere

I pray for my room
I pray for the law
I don’t pray for your souls
I don’t forgive you
While you still make me live this
Put us thru
This Hell on earth
I don’t pray to your god
I pray to my own
I reject your useless angels
And suggestions to do meditation
to go away for the weekend
As if that
Would solve anything

Rearranging the furnishings
Replacing bedding
And redecorating
After rape
Did not remove his and all the other men’s hate
And the memories i can’t erase

Too traumatised to go to bed or take a shower
As it reminds me of that morning after when I stayed there for an hour
Washing myself
Washing myself
Over and over
No tears, 
Not like in the movies
They took a month to come
Crying til I’m numb
Now they wash my face
UnTil it Runs
You never heard sobs 
And wails like this one

Sometimes the tears fall silently 
But they’re always there
Like Under the bright light
Of the police statement room
It went out
As in a power cut
“It’s movement sensitive” 
The detective said
It could not detect life in that room
You were laid down so still
Talking in a whisper
With your eyes closed
The policewoman was concentrating 
So She forgot to move her arm
It all went dark
Stopped your words that came right out of your heart
It happens, he said.. 
Always I noticed at the crucial moment though

 So I  froze
Just Like in the rape 
I didn’t shed a tear for four hours
No break
I broke down in the control room After they turned off the tape
2 police stare 
“Why are you crying?” They say
Like they don’t care
I apologise for taking up space
I pull myself together

Stop telling me “it’ll be ok -”
“It’s good to Let it all out”
Stop telling me 
What this is about
While you reap the spoils
Strut and swagger
Raise your shouts
To drown out my whisper
Now my voice is almost lost
I realise what it was for
I recognise the cost 
I pray
for so much more

10 March 2017 –

Photo with thanks to Valentina Alexandrovna

#NotOkay #RapeSurvivor #DontBeSilenced #MajorityofRapesCarriedOutInOrNeartheVictimsHome
#GirlSurvivor #MyBody #PrayerformyRoom

if you’re a survivor and you want to get in touch, don’t be afraid to reach out x

All That’s Left of Me

All That’s Left of Me

No one can touch me
Except in that place
It’s like he reached in
and injected his hate
I was looking for comfort
Yes one day
maybe love and sex
He took it all there and then
Threw my kindness in my face
Together with my naivety and trust
He grinded me with his anger and lust
That reached far beyond me
Beyond from the realms of pornography
Hate Crime
Try being at the sharp end
The violence and pain
I asked him you won’t get nasty will you?
He asked me, Why ?
Is that what other guys have done with you?
I said there was no one
in a long time.
He carried on through my fear
And tore into my preciousness
As if it was nothing
I didn’t exist
My body a quiet dummy
He dominant and
Crushing my pelvis under his
My face a stupid scream cowering
You like me fucking you do you
Yeah yeah
Slamming me with full force of a man
I didn’t understand
My insides went numb
He asked me how he compared to other men
Afterwards shock and terror
An hour in the shower
I pull myself together
The pain and confusion
I looked for comfort
I found only hate
I sought kindness
He said
Are you kind of a shy person?
You obviously get a lot of attention from men
Maybe you don’t find me attractive do you do you
You’re beautiful
I bet you get that all the time tho don’t you
I was impressed you seemed genuinely touched
But Maybe it’s just false modesty
You’re the classic blonde beauty aren’t you
He kept holding my hair near the roots
A real blonde aren’t you
Maybe I’m not your type
I said no I ‘m looking for someone who’s gentle and kind
He says D’you get a lot of unwanted attention from guys?
I don’t want to be one of those men always pestering
He said you’re really a nice person aren’t you I think you might be the
sweetest person I ever met didn’t have you down for sexy poet you’re all
hearts and roses aren’t you
Let me look at your body
Haven’t you ever had sex with someone you didn’t really know?
“Are you really that fragile?”
“Yes”, I says
He asked me
Did another guy force you before?
He said I’d better not intimidate you
Maybe sex isn’t for you
If it hurt when I did it.

I say no the issue is not sex it’s consent
there are no other men
There is no comparison
There is only you
It’s just a misunderstanding
My face in the pillow cowering
He shouts at me
Is that a pattern with you and men?
Is that a pattern with you, you argue?
I pleaded for gentleness
please just come
I can’t take much more of this
Not understanding
What I was dealing with
He told me get on top of him
“Now you’re in control,” he said
His face a mask of anger
I realised it’s not passion I’m looking at
my screams that came with
Pain like being stabbed
He said you’re not very old are you? You’re quite young aren’t you?
I’m a lot older than you aren’t I? D’you know how old I am?
Kneeling on me asking to come on my breasts
Asked me to touch him
I was useless
Ok Just don’t do it in my face I says
He wrote me a letter complained he saw a sad look in my eye afterwards
Imagined me engulfed by demons and darkness and loneliness like a
sense of deja vu
Maybe he did it to someone else too
He wrote, I felt I was abandoning you
To a fate worse than death
When I left and your door closed behind me today
He put a curse
It’s like he knew
On the phone I cry “I said I didn’t want sex! ”
He says Yes. I know
I should have been more careful
I didn’t realise what was at stake.
It took a long time to get going
Because of your pain
It became unprotected intercourse
Because of your clenching
He didn’t explain why he been laughing
I’m laid there in shock he let me know the contraceptive was off -I’m on
my back , the room swims
Feeling violated and Ill -He joked about getting me pregnant now he’s
angry I got the morning after pill – he’d stood up and said “I’ve not been
tested in a long time” I turned on my face crying -he increase
yelling – soon after that he ask for sex again – now he says
I’m not saying you’re damaged goods .. but I had enough of the physical
I said I spent the afternoon in the hospital afterwards
He said, See, that’s what I mean.
He said Sex is the test
If there is no connection
and it’s true
I failed to satisfy him

We can still
talk play music, be friends ,
Until I say
I recognised this as his power game
He was angry cos he couldn’t have me
I tried to appease his low self esteem
Not realising the danger I was in
He already agreed what he was doing wasn’t nice ..
As he assaulted me
the first time
still forcing
he said
I guess I just find you irresistible
Grabbing me hard round my waist
As I lay turned away in sadness and pain
He said “I’ve never known a blonde”
Now he he says the one he violated he’s tried and doesn’t want
He says I’m saying this to protect us both
because I care
To my girlfriend who said he never bothered me, he’s awkward , he
rarely got a date
It wasn’t random -he stole the condoms from your room
He wasn’t over eager, a mistake- he set me up , he premeditated
It was late – he worked for you – you could have paid a cab to send him
on his way- i should never be left fending him off in the first place- I was
scared to press charges, you tried to dissuade.
For all my guy friends who like to speculate -about what could really
Saying Porn is a symptom, not a cause- probably cos you don’t wanna
give up yours
I spent way too much time trying to understand the feelings of a man who
never gave a shit about mine
For the guys who are dying for me to write .. who say you always
wondered what it was like –
You never got close to someone who knows .. let me tell you then, your
ears were closed .. one in four women ..
just listen ..

my doctor says , was he a coloured man? It says in the papers they’re the
ones always break the law – I says there’s plenty white guys committing
this crime – they just get away with it more- you, you’re a man of colour,
asking me that? – none of these myths help any of us, that’s for sure
Perpetrator told me he jerked off to porn-
When he’s not getting any, he said
I said its violent to females -it’s nasty
He asked me “who’s nasty? You mean the women nasty?”
I’m pretty sure he watched films that feature girls who look like me
He searched for my vulnerability
All the while shouting so I freeze – I reject what he asks me
He said “i might be on meds for all you know”
Afterwards , and his dark letter- I to told myself He was just bonkers-
Crazy -all the same -made
The pain easier to bear
But he can go all day at his work place without hurting anyone there
He chose and put me in a position of no choice.
I lost my voice for six weeks
The stress of trying to raise it to speak
I got doctors asking me when I last bleed
Abrasions on my sweet parts where he pounded me
I don’t wanna touch my own breasts let alone down there yes
Now I got to worry if I got the hiv
Do I leap off a high building
Just to be free
I’m a prisoner in my own crime scene
Will the police help me
Or is justice only for princesses
And for assailants with money to slay witnesses
Some days I can barely raise my head
I’m tormented by the things he did and said-
I m still raw – my private insides burning – and inflammation in my spine
where he jumped up and down on me – I’m not a machine -real live
Women can’t take the things you see in films
it’s like
Kind of hazy
But in sharp focus
My trauma on a tape loop
Full colour
24 hours
Now I sleep in my clothes
My body doesn’t feel like my own
The pain so deep inside my belly and vagina a cruel reminder
He came and did this in my home
He blagged his way in
Too strong a word
Terrified to say the reality of rape.

19 February 2017 –

This was the first thing I wrote afterwards – some people asked me to share it-
i wanted to relay what it is really like to go through something like this-
If you are reading this and you have experienced similar- Strength and hugs, respect.

#NotOkay #RapeSurvivor  #DontBeSilenced
#GirlSurvivor #MyBody #AllThatsLeftofMe

Wall of Silence

Wall of Silence

We don’t have to look to Isis
Nor Al Qaeda
The crisis is right here
Stop silencing
Stop the gas-lighting
Stop denying my
this very existence
Stop the hate
You rape
Then say it’s nothing
Laws all made by men
Privileging men
black, white and brown
Stop calling me a whore
Just for speaking out
Stop punishing me
Saying I can’t be believed
Stop ostracising me
You listen only to your own  police
I have no ally in this band of thieves
You attack my femininity like I’m the
Original Eve

Take from me then deny it ever
belonged to me you claim I gave
freely when you heard my screams
You say it was my fantasy when
you saw me bleed
You felt my tears
She who was in your dreams
You plotted and schemed to trap
me then attack me you covered your  tracks
Desperate so you can say
She retracted her story
No she did not and she never will
This is not a story it is factual
It is not an allegation it’s
A report

You think the only thing
that counts is court
Laughing with your
jury of peers
who all cover their ears
Burden of proof to
Fall always on the daughters
You so comfortable here
Don’t even ask for
Your designated lawyer
There was never one for her
You know  the only protection
was for the perpetrator
Think you’ll intimidate me
With your silence and sneers
Your anti woman jeers
Consent is not fear
It is not intimidation
It is not trapping someone into a situation
It is not pretending to have a close relation
It is not your own alcohol and substance inebriation
Bet You didn’t put yourself in that altered state
To plead your innocence at the police station

Consent is not
Sorry for you
It is not
me saying no
While you perpetrate what you want regardless
It is not taking a kind caring woman
And calling her a ho
You knew it was no
It is not inventing anything you can to make it not so
You, twice my weight, twice my size
Dead weight on my hips
I could not prise
Stop the lies
Like the whole world is your ally

I decide
what I want
Not you
Not him
Not that man there
Not that woman who said
‘He’s always been alright with me
He is like my brother’
This is my Body
I decide
i was clear
You are not welcome here
You never were
Intruder in my room pushed your way in
Stop wrapping up your fears and
Blaming it on her
You are responsible
You made a choice
It is not a case of boys will be boys
You do not get to drown out my voice

That a man should be held accountable
for damage he’s done
Is this too much to ask ?
I’m tearing down your rapists mask
This wall of silence
You throw in my face
Like the bloody insult you are
You all collude
Complicit you
This despicable crime
You carry out
Behind closed doors
Or in full view
Then walk away
And say it wasn’t you
It was you
You knew then
Know now
Stand up
Be a man
Hold up your hands
Acknowledge your violence

© GS

photo with thanks to Jairo Alzato #jairoalzato
#NotOkay #RapeSurvivor #GirlSurvivor #WallofSilence