She wants to say no

Little girl lies awake. She knows what’s coming.

Her mother comes in, and now she is crying.

She tries to yell out, but no one can hear her.

She shows all the hurt, but no one can see her.

She can’t take more pain, and she wants it to end.

She tries to fight back, but she just cannot fend.

She tells them please no, but they just don’t listen.

She wants it to stop, but no one will listen.

She stands there afraid. She can’t stop the shaking.

She yells out stop, no, but now she stands burning.

She can’t hold the tears; she wants them to drown her.

She tried to say no, but no one would hear her.

He tells her to sit. She knows what is coming.

She begs him to stop, but he just keeps going.

She tries to say no, but he doesn’t listen.

So she shuts down, because no one will listen.

She hides all the hurt, but can’t get very far.

So she shows them her pain in each little scar.

She hopes they will notice, hopes they will see her.

She needs their help, she needs someone to hear her.

She wants to be free, she wants to say good-bye.

But she is still trapped, and can’t figure out why.

She’s tired of the pain, but they just won’t listen.

She stops saying no, ’cause no one will listen.

She cries so much. They ask are you okay now.

She wants to speak out, but she doesn’t know how.

She can’t tell them no, ’cause her voice has left her.

So she tells them she’s fine, then they can’t help her.

She’s a big girl now, but she knows no better.

She tries to be grown, but they just won’t let her.

She follows commands, because they don’t listen.

She loses herself, ’cause no one will listen.

She swallows each pill, and hopes it will kill her.

The pills they don’t work, but that doesn’t stop her.

She lives with the pain, ’cause no one can see her.

She keeps it inside, ’cause no one can hear her.

She longs for a friend, wants someone to help her.

She wants to find trust, wants someone to love her.

He says he’ll be there. He says he will listen.

She lets him in. She needs someone to listen.

She can be who she is, won’t need to hide now.

He gives her that hope, and she feels the love now.

But then it all disappears. It all leaves her.

He takes that away. He takes it all from her.

She clenches her teeth. He pries them back open.

She closes her legs, but he pulls them unopen.

She asks him to stop, but he just won’t listen.

She can’t tell him no, ’cause no one will listen.

She can’t find her voice. So she takes all the blame.

She didn’t say no. Now she carries the shame.

She just wants to hide, wants no one to see her.

She just wants to cry, wants no one to hear her.

She’s scared to connect, so she just pulls away.

She’s lost enough now that she can’t find her way.

She can’t understand why no one would listen.

All she had wanted was someone to listen.

She finds a way out, and she finds her way back.

She’s no longer hurt, never under attack.

She wants to come out. She wants them to see her.

She wants her voice back. She wants them to hear her.

Now she struggles to trust, and she struggles to speak.

But with strength in her heart, she is no longer weak.

She longs for respect. She needs someone to listen.

She wants to say no and have somebody listen.

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The Cost of Silence, Part 1

When I was in first grade, my teacher gave me a small plush bunny. She told me to hold on to it, that it would help me feel safe. And I did. I held on to it for years. I never thought anything of it.

While I was shopping in a store awhile back, I came across a small plush bunny. The bunny looked just like the one my teacher had given me. I remembered. I remembered everything. Then I immediately pushed it all away.

It was not the sweet childhood memory it should have been. It was much more complicated than that. And I didn’t want to bring it all up, so I pushed it back down and buried it and pretended like that memory didn’t exist.

Until the memory came up again. I was sitting in therapy, trying to think of childhood memories, and that memory popped through once again. I smiled at first because I felt the care I was given when my teacher gave 7 year-old me that bunny. Then my smile disappeared and I remembered things I didn’t want to remember. I had thoughts I didn’t want to think about.

I wanted to bury it all again. I didn’t want to think about what that memory meant. I didn’t want to feel the pain in my heart. But I did. And all I could do was cry.

Why did that teacher give me that bunny? Why did she tell me it would help me feel safe? Why did she think I needed to feel safe?

Those were the questions I thought of when that memory first came up, and I immediately pushed it all back down. In my adult mind, I knew the answers, and they were the answers that I did not want to hear. They were the answers I could not handle. And here they were, coming up again. I didn’t want to go there. I didn’t want to face the reality of what it all meant. The possibility that my teacher knew the truth, that she knew I was being abused.

My child self may have thought that bunny helped, because my child self didn’t know any better. But my adult self knows that a bunny wasn’t going to help me. A bunny wasn’t what I needed to be safe. A bunny wasn’t going to stop my mother from hurting me. I needed someone to help me. I needed someone to be my voice. Instead all I got was a plush bunny.

That teacher wasn’t the only person to stay silent. There were others: teachers, family members, family friends. Some of them admitted that they knew something was going on but just didn’t want to get involved, they didn’t want to cross any lines. Then there were other people who had to have known, but just ignored the signs.

It hurts. Sometimes it hurts worse than what my mother and father did to me. I think that it’s hard for people to understand. It doesn’t make much logical sense. How could being ignored hurt worse than the actual abuse?

It’s a different type of pain. It’s not the sting from a cut or the ache from a bruise or shooting pain of a broken bone. It’s a deep pain in your heart. The pain of being invisible. The pain of being unworthy of anyone’s love or attention. The pain of being so worthless that no one would help you.

My parents always told me to stay silent. Did they tell all of those other people, too? Why did no one speak for me? Why didn’t they help? Why did they stay silent? How was I supposed to know I mattered if no one ever acted like I mattered?

I was a child who held out hope that someone would save me. I needed to matter to someone. I needed to be seen. But time and time again, people turned their backs on me. I wanted my parents to be wrong. Instead I grew up believing they must have been right.