Til it Happens to You

I'm working away on a Sunday night.
I've been doing quite well lately, from what they tell me.
It doesn't feel like it's going to last.
You know that feeling:
   like
       it's
           all
              about
                   to
                     come
                         tumbling
                                 down.

I usually work long nights
typing.typing.typing away 
to forget about it all, 
to distract myself.
Tonight is no different.  
The Oscars are on in the background.
Someone is being introduced.
The audience cheers...
    ...the clapping subsides...
               
     silence.

From my laptop, 
I look up, 
              perplexed 
by the 
              absence
of sound.
There are violins.
Their strings pull me through the picture frame, 
towards the woman in white.

      She's Motionless.
          Stoic.
          Silhouetted by the ambient light...

You tell me it gets better, it gets better…in time

I'm caught, mid-breath.
                 There's a lump in my throat.
Like I just got punched in the gut.
I'm stunned, hanging on her every word.

You say to pull    m  y  s  e  l  f    together
pull    it    together
you’ll be fine

Tears are welling up.I'm falling apart.
I can't do this.swallow it.don't break down.
fucking.breathe.be.a.man.don't.cry.stop.stop.STOP!

Tell me, what the HELL DO YOU KNOW?!
WHAT DO YOU KNOW?!

I'm sobbing.
My wife takes away my laptop.
She holds me.
I can't fake it.
I'm angry.
I'm hurt.
I'm in that room again.
I'm four years old.
No one heard me.
No one noticed the signs.

Tell me! How the hell could you know? HOW could you know…

You'll never understand.
I held it in for decades.
"Look how well you're doing!"
"You seem fine to me."
"You'll get through it."
"This is really hard for me too."
"How much longer do you need to go to therapy?"
"I thought you were going to tell me you were gay."

Til it Happens to YOU, YOU don’t know how I feel.  How I feel.

I'm broken to you, a victim.
I can't tell you how I feel.
I can't tell you how it wakes me up in the middle of the night.
I can't tell you how one word can bring me back to that room.
I can't tell you how I'm terrified that I wasn't his only one.
I can tell you that I'm fine,
Because that's all you'll understand.

Til it Happens to you, you won’t know, it won’t be real. No it won’t be real. Won’t know how I feel.

Lady Gaga did something during the Oscars that will be with me for the rest of my life.  She made me feel like a survivor.
We don't get "Sexual Abuse Awareness Months"
We don't get "Child Abuse Prevention Walks"
We don't get "End Sexual Harassment Fundraisers"
We don't get Facebook pages wishing us to get well.
All we get is shame.
We get told that we'll become sexual abusers ourselves.
We get told that we asked for it because of the way we dressed.
We get told that we'll get over it, that it's just a memory now.

We know what happened to us.
We know that none of us deserved this.
We know that we'll no longer be victimized.
We know that we are Survivors.

All of those Survivors on the stage that night:
They're the bravest people I've ever seen.
Thank you for standing up for all of us.
Thank you for bringing this to the world.

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