One of our service users has written poetry about her experience of rape and sexual violence. We’re sharing this here in response to Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week (5-11 February 2018). Find out more about that, and the #ITSNOTOK campaign here.

Scroll down to read the poems as follows:

From #metoo You
On a Bad Day
War and Peace
Healing Tears
Recovery is:
From #metoo You
There is an anger that sits in the pit of your stomach
a sorrow that weighs down your bones
some days you bang your head against that brick wall and barely see a crack
you feel sick
your heart is tired
there is a before you and an after you and you don’t want to be you anymore

Your recovery does not depend on
telling the police
telling anybody
other people’s responses
being believed
a police investigation
a CPS decision
a court finding
the length of a prison sentence
legal justice
whether you fought back
how many times you said no
or if you felt able to say it
what you were wearing
what you were doing before
what you did after
if you know them
if you still see them
how many times it happened
if it still happens
how long it took to sink in
what you did with any evidence
how much you remember
or what you do to forget
how you feel about yourself today
how you slept last night
and how many nightmares you have
what you ate today
being comfortable with physical contact
if your body feels like your own again yet
how often you cry
or feel any feelings at all
when you last had a panic attack
when you last hurt yourself
whether you feel like giving up today
how many times you have already tried to
any words shared about what happened to you
unless those words are yours

Your recovery is yours
this they cannot take away from you
it depends on you alone
it is poetic
it cannot be compared or measured or judged
it happens at your pace
in your time
when you are ready
there is no way to fail

So you take that anger and you take that sorrow
and you make this life beautiful anyway
stand with us
you are not alone.

On a Bad Day

On a bad day
I cry on the way to work
because today I would rather be so invisible
even I can’t see me when I look in the mirror

On a bad day
I cry on the way home
cancel my evening plans
spend hours staring into space
because I have to play pretend again tomorrow

On a bad day
being in my body feels so intolerable
I would rather starve it till it disappeared
and shrinks the darkness inside

On a bad day
I push away the ones who care for me
so they don’t see what I see
and hate me for it too
On a bad day
I doubt you love me
because even I don’t feel capable of loving myself

On a bad day
the idea of your touch
makes me shrink, makes me sick
because who would want to touch a thing like this

On a good day
I’ll rewrite this poem

War and Peace

No one else glimpses him in the shadows
at the end of your bed
when you are trying to sleep.

No one else hears the screeching panic
heart pounding in your ears
when someone gets too close to feel comfortable.

No one else feels your skin crawl
as he claws at your hair
clammy hands nowhere, then all at once.

No one else smells his sweat
how it rubbed against your skin,
how it lingers.

No one else tastes the dry mouth
the fear
the residue.

No one else knows the innermost battles
of the mind’s armed conflict with itself.
Then they wonder
why you’re tired
but can’t sleep
why you have no energy
but don’t eat
why you just had a bath
but run another
why you’re home alone
but don’t want company
why you fell in love
but don’t want to be touched.

Call it what you want.
To me, it’s a love story,
between a mind and body
learning how to build and rebuild their home in each other
until, in the end, they make peace.


Healing Tears

Don’t be afraid
not all in this world will leave you heavier
for trying to share the weight
you will find those that cry with you
have faith
these are healing tears


Always question
the secrets you clasp tight to your chest
those protected in darkness.

Reflect on whether
it is only through fear of overwhelming others
with the pain which others sought to overwhelm you
that you stay silent.
If so
it is not your secret you’re keeping
it’s theirs
and it is not your shame you’re carrying
it’s theirs.

you do not have to shout it from the rooftops
just know that freedom lies on the other side
of leaving the burden to the one
who brought it to being in you.

May they take it in silence or be judged for their crimes.

Recovery is:

Recovery is:
relearning what safety feels like
responding to a lover’s touch with rational reaction
and not in preparation for a trauma relived
understanding it is still okay to seek refuge at times
reimagining the pleasure my body is capable of
a mouth between my legs
the relief
when I begin to reclaim
this body as my own