|Image source: The Other 98%|
I feel that I should be silent because this isn’t about me.
Don’t misunderstand: It is not that I believe our society
should leave each person to themselves, but that I respect
a woman’s right to her tragedy without others hanging
the weight of their own rape upon it. I am afraid
of appropriating someone else’s pain. And I want to forget.
Yet, I have woken in a cold, terrified sweat night after night
for days. There is only one sure way to not be afraid: Justice.
But a judge says justice only matters for wealthy, white men,
even when jury says otherwise. And the most frightening
part is knowing that this means my daughters live in the same
world I did when it happened to me. Sidenote:
This is the essence of PTSD. Reading someone else’s case
and reliving one of the worst days of your life over and over
and over. You know that it is not rational, that these things are
years and years behind you, that it is unlikely that a Brock Turner
act-alike is waiting outside the door (though not impossible).
You understand clearly that the more you think about it, read
about it, get angry about it, the more afraid you will be, but you
are completely, utterly incapable of turning away, of
re-appropriating the rational person you were yesterday.
But back to my daughters. I take a deep breath and another look.
The voices of men, many men, are rising, and they are not
frightening. They are saying, “This is not okay.” They are saying,
“This is not her fault.” They are saying, “Rape is rape and this man
bears the blame. Alcohol does not a rapist make.” This is not the same
world I grew up in. This is a better place. I want to thank these men
I can trust to be just to my daughters.
I am torn between silence and gratitude and an inability to forget.
Larina Warnock teaches in Roseburg, Oregon. Her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction has appeared in Space & Time Magazine, The Oregonian, Touch: The Journal of Healing, Wheelhouse Magazine, Poets Market 2011, and others. She is currently working on her EdD in Education Leadership from Creighton University.