Hilborn & Schimnkey: Poem on What is Not Told about Sexual Abuse

My school was fairly progressive
They even taught contraception in our sex-ed class

When I was 14, my dad handed me a box of condoms and said,“You know how to use these right?”

We were taught which preventive methods were the most effective

I was in Texas, so Dad’s with shotguns

And where to go if something broke, what to take, how to fix this mess you’ve gotten yourself in

We were taught about herpes and gonorrhea and Syphilis and how to keep all your fluids to yourself

My friends taught me which clinics wouldn’t tell my parents

Which ones handed out free condoms

But I was never taught that there were worse things that could happen than a baby or a disease

Yeah, we learnt about roofies

We learnt how to respect when a woman says ‘No’

We learnt about protecting your drink, carrying a pepper spray

We learnt what to do when a woman is assaulted

But not that this could happen to me.

I was a virgin when I was raped for the first time

When it happened to me it was 10 A.M. and my parents were home

My textbook hadn’t described the way I wouldn’t even try to fight

There was no paragraph on how to stop him/her without making a scene

There was no worksheet for how to stop him without waking up my sleeping parents

There was no correct answer to her threats of suicides when I wasn’t in the mood

There was no manual for the polite victim

You know, it wasn’t like they said it would be

I was sober, he was sober

We were seventeen/fifteen

They didn’t teach me that I wouldn’t know how to protect myself

That my lungs would close up and we would make pretend husband and wife

Make pretend love

The thing about pretend, is that it flattens everything to one colour

It makes it too simple

It makes it one syllable and that syllable is always captioned as a ‘Yes’

They didn’t teach me that I could wanna be with someone but not always want them, that being curious about sex doesn’t mean I was asking for it.

What I learned was I was supposed to want it

I was supposed to feel stolen, supposed to feel like less of a human being

I learnt that if you don’t scream, no one will listen to you

They don’t write about the ones that got away

I learnt that foundation comes in fourteen different shades

No one wants to hear your skin is changing colours

They only ask how you’re doing to hear you say ‘Fine’

I learnt that I was supposed to feel fine, We were lovers after all

And with a love like that, you hardly have to ask right?

I don’t want to blame my school

I don’t want to blame her

I don’t want to blame my church, or my mother or even the boy

We were just children

But this is preventable, so someone must be responsible for preventing it

We can teach this better

Some paintings are built from a thousand points of colour

If you stand too close, the sunset becomes just a series of red dots

We teach that rape is always a man in an alley

Always a clenched jaw and a closed fist

Always a stained white shirt

But I never used my pepper spray

I never had to worry about an uncle or a locker room

Do not confuse one story for all stories

Do not stare at a red dot and say, “The Whole painting is just one colour.”

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