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His hands wrapped around my throat, cutting off my windpipe as he threw me onto the bed and stood on top of me, taking away my breath.  Taking away my power.  I wasn’t thinking about how I had gotten there in the first place … I was only thinking about what I could do to get my breath back.  The answer was nothing.  There was nothing I could do to breathe.  His hand was gripped too tightly around my throat.  His body weight was nothing I could overthrow.  The only reason why I am breathing right now is because he chose to let go.  And walked out of the bedroom. Out of the house.  And left me gasping.  And packing a duffel bag full of panic.  I walked out, leaving everything else behind...

     A few months before that I had threatened to leave.  The apartment, not the relationship.  We were in the middle of an argument, because then I still had access to what I thought was my voice which equaled my power.  I thought.  We were arguing.  Screaming.  In our tiny one bedroom.  Someone called Building Security.  The knock on the door startled us and I moved toward it.  He blocked my way, stood in front of me and with one look, no hands and no words, said: “Don’t”.  At that point, he had never physically hit me.  He just made sure that I understood that he could hit me. And that was enough for my breath to escape me and I stood there, with him between me and the door and the security outside of it, silent.  No sound found its way out of my gut, into my throat or out of my mouth.  I was rendered … non verbal.  Eventually security stopped knocking. 

     I knew a line had been crossed.  A dangerous power struggle I did not even know I was in had reared its head.  I pushed past him to get out of the apartment.  I was going to get some air.  He pushed me to the ground, grabbed my feet and dragged my body that I had no idea was so weightless, across the apartment floor, and flung me like a bag full of garbage into the far corner of the room and stood over me.  I don’t remember his words.  I only remember knowing that I was breakable and not going to get to the door.  I wasn’t going to die that day.  He did not put his hands on me again, that day.  He just stood between me and air and I accepted it.  Until the windpipe in my throat was closing and I realized that breath I had given up, I might not ever get back.

    It’s been 15 years since I walked out of that apartment with nothing but a duffel bag and “ran home to live with my mommy and daddy because I was too stupid to take care of myself”.  

    I wish I could tell you that I'm strong now, and that I knew those words were the manipulations of a sociopath (because I had read about sociopaths in books and understood that I had fallen into a web with a beast I could not beat, because I had raw feelings that he masterfully utilized to cut me down).  But that tar and vinegar lives in the deepest folds of my heart and it still whispers to me in so many moments of my happiness, and still leaks oil slicks of doubt over even my strongest days.

     I wish I could tell you that I lost my voice, my power, the day I fell into that sociopath’s web… but this confession is an attempt at unveiling a truth so that we can look at it together, look at it straight, and be better for it, and the attempt would be worthless if I wasn’t being 100 percent truthful and so I must admit that I did not lose my voice the day I fell into the twisted web of one bad man… I lost my voice years and years before that when I was “molested” at seven years old by a babysitter’s son.  He was not much older than me.  He was not the bad monster adult (insert monster name – pastor- uncle- teacher- coach- et. al - here) that we unfortunately read about so often.  He was just a boy who convinced me that climbing on top of me in my bed while he was supposed to be helping me with math homework was okay.  And I, like so many children (it has taken me so long to understand and admit that I was once a child) didn’t know what to do, so I did nothing.  I said nothing.  


I was rendered non verbal.  


Because I was a child.  Because I indeed had no power.  I shouldn’t have needed power then….  But I did need it and no one taught it to me and so I buried the words that could explain my pain so deep inside my abdomen that I still can’t really sound them out and binge ate and starved myself and binge ate and starved myself - trying desperately to either smother it or evaporate it into nothing.  And throughout the journey of my adult life (which started at age 8) regardless of my body’s various shapes and sizes that I thought determined my worth, I threw myself into the hands of any man who looked at me like maybe I wasn’t a gross thing… because that was the only salve that took that sharp and ache at the same time, away.

      My power was taken from me at a very early age.  If you are reading this, if you have daughters, I am reaching out to you, begging you, on my hands and knees to teach your daughters that their power lies in their voice.  We can NEVER, EVER let them think that they can rely on non verbal cues to relay anything.  Expecting people to adhere to non verbal cues about how we feel - feelings that we can’t actually verbalize, is the ANTITHESIS OF FEMINISM.  We must find the courage to speak!  We have the right to our truth and we have a duty to seek it.  We must find the courage to fight for and protect our happiness because my God, our happiness is worth fighting for.  I want you to know, Dear Reader, that if you find yourself in a situation that you don’t feel comfortable with and you are able to walk out of the situation, you have a responsibility to yourself to walk out of it…  Because there are some of us who were so paralyzed with fear that we could not walk out.   And, even more, there are some who were assaulted, assaulted in the highest sense of the word… and they will never get their breath back…

    I am reaching out to you, as human beings, begging you to fight to find the strength to use your voice whenever you can, to create change in your environment, to demand respect and not put your power in someone else's hands, hoping they pick up on your cues.

 We are better than our silence. 

Let's teach ourselves and our children to speak clearly about what we want and what we do not want and let's say a prayer, that they may never, ever know what it's like to be rendered non verbal.

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