by Griggori Tyler Taylor
“Statistics from Boston Area Rape Crises Center”
90% of rape survivors on college campus know their assailant
National crime surveys show 60% of rapes go unreported
Most undetected rapist average on six victims
Everyone who knew Iris thought of her like a little sister. Her eyes
held an essence of kindness and curiosity that lit up the night. The
kind of light that an honest man would try to keep safe; so what
guardian angel called home sick that day. She’d go to parties but
never drank too much, never more than a couple mixed drinks. She was
a lightweight, so her tiny figure had no way of stopping the Rohypnol
slipped in and stomping in her veins. The dance floor and walls dropped,
folding away like a burning photo album, memories rolling up like scrolls.
Walking down steps, clothes ripping, two small wrist held in one hand.
When her hymen broke the bleeding gave her quick stabs of consciousness,
just enough to capture a face. But waking up on friends couch hung-over like
nothing ever happened didn’t help produce a story to believe. Neither did
seeing her rapist unaffected face every other day in biology. Iris didn’t just lose
her virginity. She lost the greater some of her sanity. Poisonous memories
rotted away her reality, and she doesn’t even know how to get in there
and fix them. And Iris wasn’t even the first victim. Or the second. Before her,
There was Hope. Hope was a believer in God. She went to two churches, the BCM,
and was the vice president of coexist. Hope helped 65 people out of their personnel
hells and into a life of love. Every person she knew she mentioned when she prayed.
Every holiday was spent preparing stacks of food trays to a line of shallow hungry faces
and erases their sorrow and pain. It was a Thursday, and she was walking home from
a friends dorm when he came from the blindside. The abandoned concrete was an unforgiving
mattress. When she screamed he crafted a cataclysm of ground and skull to make her silence.
A lot comes to mind in fifteen minutes. Hope wondered whatever made her this man target.
She always dressed so modest. Never played childish mind games with her body, but honestly,
she knew the truth. She wasn’t asking for anything. The only thing that causes rape is a rapist.
His seed bloomed inside her like a thorn covered flower. When she told her father she nipped
it before the bloom, he forgot that she was ever his daughter. The kicking of her child’s phantom
limbs is a forever ticking memory of a nightmare that penetrated much deeper then skin, but
before her there was Alexis. Alexis was already a survival story. For fifteen years she
was a hole in the wall library of tucked away scars. Her body and soul’s bruises were hidden
under honor roll report cards and minimum wage pay stubs like gum stuck under a school desk.
I’ll have to clean this up sometime, but not tonight, it’s a school night. I just got off work, I have
a test in the morning, and my sisters still haven’t had their dinner yet. See, Alexis’ mom died from
crack when she was young, and since then she had to take her mother’s place. Cleaning house,
preparing dinner, and facing her father’s lust every night. But she bit the bullet because she wanted
to be the first in her family to do something with her life. She was the first one to go to college.
When he reached her in the parking lot she had almost forgot another childhood night. But this time
she tried to fight, not sure if this might be her last moments of life, but it was useless. His heavy fist
struck her gut, punching out the smallest questions of why, till there was nothing left to say. Alexis’
felt as hopeless as the first day her father told her he would show her her place. Her grades faded
to E’s, and she began to believe what he said. Now a drop out, she went to the streets figuring she
should sell herself to feed her sisters, considering they were going to take it from her anyways. But
before her there was Martha. The only image of Martha I can paint is of a sixteen year old girl not
yet know how the next year of her life would go, because that was the image they
placed on her casket. There just weren’t any recent photos so they had to choose one
that showed their daughter the way they wish she would have stayed. The suicide note
said she always heard that women never killed themselves swiftly, always a slow fade,
so she went out with a twelve gauge down her throat because she didn’t want to be associated
with her beauty that cursed her. Her closed casket will never hold every piece of her skull, but
before her there was Charlotte. Charlotte had never been with a man. She always related more
to women. Always felt safe and warm in the arms of the girls she loved. So when he broke the stain
glass in the temple of her body, she kept picking the pieces out of her skin for the years to come.
Charlotte has 32 black lipstick kisses tattoos. One for every bruise left on her flesh that night. Her
fingers have permanent groves from trying to pray away the memories. She leaves the house
like it’s swimming in white water, every man is a memory of what she can’t forget. She wakes from
dreams like a Vietnam vet, cold sweat pooling around her body like a chalk outline but she died a long time ago.
Today she just prays there won’t be another reason to open the doors, but before her
there was Cattie. Cattie had a long line of bad relationships with ambitionless men, So when she meet a one
who was willing to fight for what he wanted in life, she got hooked like a junkie. He was willing to make her happy,
but like all things in life, they must be earned, and Cattie wasn’t willing to pay the price. It started small at first. But it
built up, and up, and there was never any love. Her body was just a tool for him to finish inside of, so she tried to leave,
and tried again, and again, finally black and blue she transferring school. But after therapy, Cattie was the lucky one.
But her assault went unreported. There were never any ears there to listen, so he got off the hook.
Do you see now? Every assault must be reported. Every ear should here the cries of the night,
no soul should feel as if this crime was all on them alone. after this night, will we still stand bright
like candles we will soon hold, or will we all just melt and let the effects trickle down like the wax?
Will we be able to go back and relax knowing what we know or will we help hold up the world resting
on our sister’s shoulders? Will five more women have to cry? Will five more women
be forced to lose part of their life, all because we could do whatever it took to listen to one?