Tuesday, November 6, 2018


Why I Didn’t Report

he was my boyfriend
we talked about getting married
I chose to date him I chose to date him I chose to date him 

my mom would be so mad—she’d tried to warn me about him
my stepdad might kill him
they’d never trust me again how could they ever trust me again how could I ever trust me again

the church said purity was my nonnegotiable expectation: I must be The Virgin Bride
I signed a True Love Waits card
I kept it in my wallet should I take it out of my wallet it will rot in my wallet

Bible teachers told me what I wore and did and said might cause men to stumble
the implication: I carried the responsibility for my purity and a man’s purity, both
had I made him stumble had I sent the wrong signals was my no not loud enough clear enough definitive enough

I was ashamed
I was used goods
I was afraid so afraid so unspeakably afraid

if I spoke, they would never believe me 
in the game of He Said She Said his voice was much louder than mine 
I saw what they did to women like me I watched what they did to women like me I understood what they did to women like me

so I folded it up
stuffed it in my pocket
and carried the guilt the pain the shame the sorrow the torment the black spot of it for twenty-one years

while he lived free
made his life
and forgot all about that night when we were sixteen that night I carry still that night I learned what it meant to feel unsafe in a world that was not made for me

-- Rachel Toalson

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