Exhibit: A Dress Speaks
Exposición: Un Vestido Habla

In Our Silence

Adult raped three different times during adolescence

in-ti-mate/ adj. 1: belonging to or characterizing one’s deepest nature 2: marked by a very close association or contact 3: of a very private or personal nature

violence/n. 1a: the use of physical force in a manner calculated to do harm to a person or his property b. injury esp. to something that merits respect or reverence

When I was seven years old, my mother left my alcoholic father; unfortunately, she also left my brother and I with him. On weekends, he would drop us off at my grandparents’ home so he could go off to drown his sorrows. I remember feeling so alone during this time, so when my uncle, who still lived with my grandparents, took an interest in me, I remember being initially excited. I would spend hours in his room. He would play records, and I would hang out with him while he worked out. A couple of times, he asked me if he could give me a massage. I didn’t think much of it, still happy to have the attention. I remember think his hands were moving a little too low on my back, but I said nothing.

My grandparents’ house was small, and sleeping arrangements were tight. My brother slept in my uncle’s room and I slept on the couch. I’m not sure exactly when it started, but at some point my uncle began ‘visiting’ me in the middle of the night. I would wake up and he would be on top of me, touching me, or trying to get me to touch him. He would try to put his penis in my mouth or inside of me.

I never made a sound! I pretended I was sleeping. I was a good girl – quiet – never told – never made a sound – I did my best to become invisible. I would pretend it wasn’t happening. I just stayed there – perfectly still – like a rag doll. I never said a word! When he was done, he would leave, and I went back to sleep. In the morning, it was as if it never happened.

By the time I was fourteen, I had been raped two more times – by two different people – each time, in the middle of the night, while I was sleeping.

Both times I was silent…

Both times I woke up the next morning, put my panties back on that had been so callously tossed on the floor while I ‘slept’.

Both times I got up and sat at the breakfast table with the abuser – he didn’t look like a rapist.

One was the boyfriend of a cousin – they are now married – I kept my silence.

The other the brother of a friend. I never said a word.

I sat across the breakfast table from them and never said a word.

But I paid a price for my silence. While I could not make a sound come out of my mouth, on the inside I was SCREAMING. I became very self-destructive. Drug abuse, eating disorders…I was destroying my body, and battling these demons within me, because I could not find my voice.

I blamed myself. I walked around thinking that I had this flashing light on my forehead tipping off these pricks that I was a safe bet – I would be a good girl and play along. That there must be something wrong with ME.

By the time I was an adult, I began to take a look around, and I began to realize that a number of my friends, too great to be mere coincidence, had been violated in some way by the time they were adults. I also found out that my own mother, and possibly her mother, had been molested as children. I began to realize that there are a whole lot of us who walk around unable to speak, but screaming on the inside.

HEAR ME NOW…woman are being raped and violated by men at epidemic proportions. THESE WOMEN ARE OUR DAUGHTERS…THE VIOLATORS ARE OUR SONS.

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