Content warning: rape and sexual assault.
Disclaimer: the events portrayed in this poem do not pertain to the author, but are the experiences of both the author and close friends combined into a single poem.
I don’t want to hear “I’m sorry”.
I don’t want to hear “I’m sorry, I got excited”
“I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were uncomfortable”.
I’m sorry 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted while in college.
When my 14 year old sister comes home bruised and my best friend doesn’t remember,
“I’m sorry” isn’t good enough.
When her hands shake like a revving engine, yet there’s no energy left inside,
“I didn’t know” isn’t good enough.
When I get cat called walking into my own school,
When the words “I know you have a boyfriend but..” slip out of your mouth only after my entire body has tensed up with your touch,
“It won’t happen again” isn’t good enough.
When you lock the door before asking if I want to stay,
When you we’re conveniently too drunk to remember,
When you cry the next day because you “found out” you assaulted someone,
“I’m sorry” isn’t good enough
When a male teacher snaps the bra strap of my 11 year old sister barely old enough to wear one
because, “If she had it covered like she was supposed to...”.
As tears well in her eyes and she can’t explain why
because she doesn’t have the words to describe the mix of embarrassment and violation she feels simultaneously,
“I’m sorry” isn’t good enough
Growing up, my brother was told to tuck in his shirt.
I was told to cover every inch of my body from my collarbone to my knees
because for some reason,
the body of a barely pubescent girl is too much for middle school boys
I was taught that I was responsible for their failures but not their successes.
That my body was one to be policed and exploited at the will of men,
telling me when to exist and how.
I don’t wan’t to hear your apology.
In fact, I don’t want to hear from you at all.
I didn’t ask for you to act the way you did
And I definitely don’t want you to feel better because you got to say
My clothing is not an invitation for your hands, my sister is not a prize, and my best friend is not able to consent if she is not fully conscious.
Simply existing in your room doesn’t make me yours.
No one should wake up with someone else inside them, entering their body without their permission. Waves of shame and fear paralyzing them as tears leak out of closed eyes.
No one should stay up at night staring at pills,
imagining the relief that would come if only they could escape the nightmares, the guilt, the flashbacks, the shame...
Because no breath at all would be fresher than this air.
I am sorry though.
With my whole heart, I am sorry.
For the victims who want to die because they can’t bear the knowledge or memory of the abuse, the ones that can’t escape the abuse, the ones that will be violated again.
For the little girls who have been told it’s their responsibility to keep rapists away.
For the women who have been taught to live in fear.
For the trans, nonbinary, LGBTQ people
Who live with more of this but are silenced more than everyone else
For my best friend. And for my sister.
I am so, so sorry.