An Older Mind

This post is a continuation of the same theme found in my poem, A Piece of Fruit. I wrote it in honor of April being Sexual Assault Awareness month.

I used to think rape was about desire.
I know better now.

I know better now because as a queer crip my body has never been the subject of steamy gossip or longing glances. Sure, on my ‘good’ days I can almost pass – almost – as able-bodied, and therefore ‘attractive’. I’ve been told on numerous occasions that my slender body is beautiful and that my eyes are piercing.

But there are enough ‘bad’ days that I know I could never pass. On those days, my hands shake, little miniature tremors rattling my fingers. On these days, my gait is uneven and my limp is pronounced; the brace on my leg seems to dig further into my skin with each step. On these days, the hemiplegia seems stronger than ever, and I cannot help but feel as if the right side of my body is fading slowly away, like an old memory.

I never thought that I would be the one in that 1-in-4 statistic. How could I be, when my classmates looked at me with eyes brimming with pity? How could I be, when no one wanted to take me to prom? How could I be, when I stayed with the geek crowd and away from the bad boys with their souped up trucks and condom-stuffed wallets?

I wasn’t aware back then that sexual assault isn’t about sex, or mini-skirts, or ‘raging’ hormones, or too much booze and making ‘mistakes’. It’s about power. It’s about control.

Looking back on the dark memory of my first sexual assault, I can see that need for power within my assailants. They wanted to humble me, the obstinate queer crip who didn’t want anything to do with them. They wanted to boost their own egos by saying that they fucked the town lezzie. They wanted the honor of converting a self-proclaimed queer.

Looking back, I can remember how paralyzed I was, how helpless I felt as their hands dove into my clothes and mapped out my body. I remember that the dominant fear possessing my mind was that they would notice the indicators of my CP, rather than the fear of getting hurt. At the time that was the most secret part of my identity, and I did not want it taken by a group of men that considered my body to be a conquest.

After all this time I still remember their hands, their breath, their words. Often these things visit me in nightmares. Sometimes the healing process seems never-ending, and I am left thinking that I will never feel the safety I did before.

But I am hopeful.

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