Thanks to the anonymous survivor who shared this powerful poem.
** Trigger warning. This poem could cause distress and bring back painful memories if you have also been subjected to rape, sexual violence and abuse. **
Remember what happened
Remember the surroundings
Was the light on or off?
How he placed his hand on my thigh
Gripping it tightly
The pain from his thumb
Piercing my leg
Remember what he did
His hand on my mouth
You want this
I never wanted this.
This bold and profound poem was written by an anonymous survivor. Thank you for sharing your words with us.
You took something that wasn’t yours to take.
Robbed me of my choice, made me feel I had no voice.
You took something that wasn’t yours to take.
Distorted every image of myself I see, created demons and trapped them inside me.
You took something that wasn’t yours to take.
I don’t forgive you. People will continue to say that forgiveness will set me free. Well then, I forgive me.
I forgive me for allowing what you did to make me think I was worthless. I forgive me for the years of torture now I know that I am blameless.
You don’t define me, I define me.
I will place blame where blame is due, and if even for a moment, you will carry this weight, too.
This poem was written by Ann. Thank you so much to Ann for sharing your words with us and other survivors.
No tick tock,
for air or breath.
Now it’s here
marching in my brain.
Alone with no
it won’t wash,
it won’t quash,
It’s part of me
I can’t cut free.
That second I slipped
I’ve woken up,
I smell of fear
I am not the same.
It’s cost me dear
I played the sickest game.
I can’t give in.
into a little girl,
wind up my mind
into a spool,
as such a fool.
for someone else
who’ll set me free
from being stone
and facing this
on my own.
Strength in numbers,
strength in me?
It’s in here somewhere,
let it free.
“Hard to trust?”
I don’t deny,
I might stumble,
I might cry.
But most will
let me share their boat
safe from sinking,
help me float,
only we can share
it gives me strength
to know you’re there.
This powerful and hopeful poem was written by Kirk. Thank you Kirk for sharing these words.
‘used to have such a happy smile,
Was told I would laugh, all the while,
Things went strange, then they went bad,
I started getting beaten, by my dad.
I got to seven, should have been buzzin’,
Didn’t want to see the abuse of my cousin,
Things were strange, and really bad,
The abuse carried out, by my dad.
My uncle would play, with little boys,
Then came the day, I was one of his toys.
Things were strange and really bad,
My abuser the brother, of my dad.
Our family life, my mom thought quite grand,
She always buried, her head in the sand,
She was strange, and really bad,
I think she knew, of the sins of my dad.
My parents they planned to live ‘cross the water,
On school holidays, they’d care for my daughter
My cousin came out, that plan was defeated
She told everyone, her darkest kept secret
Dad took his own life, he had to really,
He craved his liberty, far too dearly
The way he went, it made me sad,
I never got justice, even from my dad.
These words I’ve written are from the heart
When life gets tough, don’t fall apart
When days are dark don’t give up hope
you have the strength within to cope.
That is not, who I am now,
I have succeeded, oh and how.
I have made changes to my whole life,
Helped by a woman; I’d like as my wife.
Thank you to Annette for sharing her poem with us.
Nobody owes me anything
Because I know the people who hurt me will never say SORRY!!
They will never come to justice truly because my pain will never go away
They can never feel the hurt they placed inside of me, not only my body but my brain also, and my heart.
So the reason I owe myself is because I owe myself the time to grieve for what they have taken away from me.
I owe myself to forgive myself for allowing my abusers to cause so much pain, I panic!
I owe myself the time to know I am better than they are.
I owe myself the feeling of not feeling ashamed of who I am
I owe it to myself not to come down to their level and to comfort people in need, not hurt them.
But most of all I owe it to myself to be happy, to be free and to learn to trust, there are good people out there in this big wide world.
Most of all I owe it to myself to feel achievement and proud of who I am today!!
It has been a long journey, but we didn’t learn to walk or talk in one day.
It’s that first step to freedom, then it will become strides.
Be proud that you have taken the first step.
There are times you get hiccups, but everyone does,
Know who you are in life,
Just hold on, and fight for yourself to make your life happier and easier.
If I can do it, I’m sure you can.
Stand up for yourself when the time is right, be PROUD and STRONG
Always, always remember you were a victim, now you are a survivor, stand proud!
You are the better person and always will be.
It will be good when you feel free again and alive, fight for you, for what you believe in.
Don’t let your dreams pass you by, you can live your dreams and be happy.
Remember that saying…turn a frown upside down,
A smile is contagious and a hug from someone genuine can make your day seem a little better!
Thank you to Annette for sharing her poem with us.
The fear I feel is my own fear,
Of life itself.
So afraid, because I am more aware of pain and sorrow than of joy and happiness.
I know I must not look for bad things all my life,
Accept what happiness I can,
Life’s too short not to enjoy part of it,
I must accept my good times.
Every person, whether they know it or not, has a fear,
I am more aware of mine.
Having time to sit and think sometimes does me more harm than good.
So, I must accept my life and live it to the best of my ability.
From now on I will try and accept my fears and not let them stand in my way.
We all have a person inside of us fighting to get out, to find the reason why we are here on this planet Earth.
The word fear is a very frightening, powerful word.
The biggest fear for me is life itself,
Afraid to turn another corner,
Afraid to open another door,
The fear of not knowing what I have to face next.
Is it really the fear of living I am afraid of or is it the fear of dying?
I may never know that answer.
There are always questions, but not answers, some things are best left without an answer,
So stop searching, accept life for what it is.
Hi, I’m Steph. I’m one of the newest Independent Sexual Violence Advocates (ISVAs) to join the RSVP family, joining the team in July last year.
I’ve been an ISVA for a total of 5 years, having worked across various sectors. I was delighted to be invited to join RSVP as I’ve followed their amazing work for years and genuinely felt their ethos and victim/survivor focus was beautifully suited to my working style.
I’m also a survivor. It’s what originally inspired me to do what I do. Since I didn’t have the right support it had a very negative impact on my life for a few years. Wow, I was also cruel to myself.
However, with the right therapy, excellent training opportunities and heaps of determination and hard work, I’m here. I’m an ISVA and I’m incredibly proud of what I do. I love what I do, which is sometimes odd for people to understand. They imagine my job to be a very depressing role and don’t get me wrong, it’s tough. We see people feeling very traumatised, we see their tears, fear, confusion, misplaced guilt and misplaced shame and we feel it with such empathy and compassion. We also see such strength, such determination and the incredible resilience of the human spirit.
You see, being a victim of sexual violence does not define who you are. It’s something that happened to you.
With the right support we see people not only survive but thrive. We empower and support you in whatever way you need that support and we do so with care, compassion and dedication. We’re trained to a high standard to help you understand how to report, if you choose to; the criminal justice system; civil action; the holistic support available to you and your feelings after rape and abuse.
So that’s me, Steph. A down to earth professional who says it like it is. I’ll advocate for your rights, respect you and empower you, to the best of my ability.
Visit here if you want more information about our ISVA service.
This moving blog post is by Lisa. Huge thanks to her for wanting to share her story of how she finally met the little girl who disappeared overnight after sexual abuse.
The little girl I was disappeared overnight. Gone was the happy, care free 8 year old and in her place was a sad, frightened and ashamed victim of sexual abuse.
To survive I put that 8 year old in a box, locked it and threw away the key. To think of her reminded me of the abuse and I DID NOT want to remember. To relate what happened to her to me I simply did not allow.
Denial is a powerful thing and I see now a protective thing, but there comes a time when it becomes harmful. The energy it takes to maintain that denial, to keep it hidden is exhausting and I, without question, made myself both physically and emotionally ill for many years because of it.
I did not make a conscious decision to ‘release’ that 8 year old from her box – she just got louder, desperate to be released. She had had enough of being silenced and ignored. For me she literally came bursting out at a counselling session that I had gone to because I was feeling so desperately sad and empty and thought it was time I found out why. With a single question, without any prior planning on my part I revealed my abuse. With that single reply I had unlocked the box and there was no going back.
The years since that moment have been a roller coaster and some of the toughest of my life. It has felt like I have had an open wound that every time it started to heal, just opened again. There have been times I wanted to push her back into the box, go back to denying her existence. I was not aware of the extent of the pain there would be but equally there have been times when I wanted to open the wound completely and clean away all of the badness.
I chose to keep fighting, I have persevered with the primary reason that being to free my 8 year old once and for all. To give her a voice, to tell her she is safe and to let her find the life she deserved.
Me and her are in the process of getting to know one another. I am trying hard to take care of her – showing her she is loved and has nothing to be ashamed of. She is slowly helping me break down the walls I built to surround me, shutting out the world. I realise now that she is not weak or bad but in fact brave and courageous and she sees in me that she survived. Most important of all I am no longer leaving her behind…instead we are walking hand in hand, to a better future and the one we BOTH deserved.
We would like to thank an anonymous survivor who has asked us to share this poem. It explores how difficult it can be to reach out for help as doing so means acknowledging that the abuse was real.
*The poem contains material that will trigger some survivors. Please do take care of yourself when reading this poem; particularly paragraphs 3,4 & 5 that are in blue italic font.*
Why do I need the help when it should be for others?
There are those who need it more, deserve it more, not me
Feeling I can’t function, even with a long to do list, my mind it has again wandered
Recalling, remembering what he did to me all those years ago
Trying to grapple with the fact- it did happen
Not wanting to believe this, not wanting it to be true
My mind goes in to overload-‘He got away with it because I did nothing!’
Even though I know that this is not true
I did what I was told each time but just once resisted
Yet I was the child, wanted to be loved, kept safe and not challenge him
I remember too many details- like it was yesterday
Snippets of time returned into the present from over 30 years ago
The following lines might trigger survivors of sexual abuse.
I can still feel his hands on my body, smell the aftershave he wore
and the newness of his leather belt against my bare skin rubbing it sore
I can hear the whispers of his voice in my ear that he was pleased with me
That I would be ‘his princess, his best girl’
if I smiled at him as he touched me deeper inside rather than cry as that didn’t impress
But most of all I recall the fear of when, 8 years later I said no to him
The anger on his face, raised voice, now not ‘gentle’ with his intentions
The violence that followed, the pain of penetration inside my body, going in deeper, further this time with his rage
I submitted- although stripped and pushed against a table it was hard not to
A cigarette butt jabbed into the back of my leg
“That’ll teach you to say no next time I want it!” are the words that filled my ears with dread
His grasp around my waist and arms left bruises, I was so sore between my legs
My body bled for yet another time that year
Yet the fear of that afternoon stays with me…. Just no longer locked away inside
I don’t like the remembering yet I’m finding it so hard to let go
Of feelings, of images and the sensations of him inside me and on me
Did I imagine this? Could I imagine this? Where would these ideas come from?
I don’t want it to be real- I need it to be other people’s experiences not mine- not me
I want them to leave me alone
Carefully packaged away they were, until one day it all just came out, from one thought-
Like a bomb going off in my head it was- the trauma so terrifying, so real, I was distraught
It’s been a long journey these last 12 months and a roller coaster ride I am on
Yet I am getting better- I have moved on so, so much
it’s just difficult at times for me to see the progress when I am in it.
I sometimes wish my family knew- to share this pain and feeling of unworthiness I carry,
Yet at least for now I know, it’s only me that has to have this burden and worry.
Just me, not them feeling shame and despair.
And I now know, however alone I feel, I am not alone
There are those that listen, support, believe and help the path ahead seem clearer.
Those who help when I feel ‘unhealable’ and explain the reasons I feel like I do.
To know my journey is progress forward not giant steps back and it is restorative.
This piece of writing has been submitted by an anonymous survivor.
Like a sailing boat, at the mercy of an ocean with no breeze to help it travel, I am in a state of drifting limbo.
Spending time gathering the courage to talk to someone, to pick up the phone, then not knowing what to say when it’s answered- the long list made of things aching inside not able to be verbalised and then I stupidly reduce it to, ‘I’m okay’.
Okay? What is actually okay is that it’s not okay. It is actually alright to admit that life is not okay!
Yet… I want to believe everyone else needs the help, deserves the support more than me. That by me being on the phone, another person, more valuable, more fragile, could be accessing deserved help and feeling more able to set sail, to travel on to a better place.
Me, the one that cannot even articulate a conversation or who cuts off a call when it is answered, freezing in the limbo of a sailing boat with no breeze- not knowing what to do, to say, how to respond. Just at the mercy of emotion not held tight enough on a lead from within.
Like a sailing boat, bobbing up and down, drifting into unknown and unchartered waters I carry on. I cannot stop the emotions I feel and the effect they have on my daily life. I am unable to control the swells that rise up like the seas inside me- that I feel I should be able to cope by now, yet I am so out of my depth, lost in a vast ocean- an unfamiliar place, lost, lonely and so afraid.
So I reach for the phone again. I even write my list of what I am so longing to verbalise, to share, to release and I yet, again, I cannot. I have failed.
I speak of nothingness, of all the things I really deep inside have no need to talk about. Yet aching within are the things I so wish the other person, the listener, could ask, could hear, has the power to search deep inside me and unlock the fear within.
I wait again, for another call, this time determined to say the things that are grappling with me inside my mind. I am tired of talking now- mostly by text, by writing not being able to be set free by verbalising it. I don’t want to waste resources. I don’t even know why I need to call, to be heard, to just be in conversation with someone who knows and understands- not is repulsed by my experience or too shocked to then see me face to face.
Like a sailing boat, at the mercy of an ocean with no breeze to help it travel, I am in a state of drifting, or limbo yet I have travelled some distance when I look back.
I have journeyed through storms and survived, become more resourced to cope and move on, on my own. Feeling in a state of nothingness is better than being in crisis. Bobbing up and down on the waves is better than trying to survive a storm lashing from within.
I will continue to sail… one day actually raising to sail to go it alone, saying what I feel and being okay with that.