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I think all people after a certain age start to miss the child they used to be. The one with eyes full of innocence and a mind full of wonder. The one who’s able to trust. The heart that loved ferociously without a hint of fear. A heart that would love so widely, that the whole universe would burst into tears. How pure and unblemished. Once we had all been a person who had never been hurt. Carrying a heart that was pure love to the fullest sense. And I bet that we’d all wish to be able to love that way again.

You see, as life goes on, we learn to stiffen our shells, only because this world taught us how to.

The first boy I kissed, held my shoulders down, like the handlebars of a bicycle, the same way he had learned from his father. And also the first one to teach me that my body was to be given only to the ones who will fill it. But oh my, did I feel empty as a wary car’s gas tank at 4 a.m.

I thought that feeling safe was not a privilege, until I spent a lot of time in arms that were not.

Abuse, rape, offence, or any kind of infringement a person might depreciate, apart from the fact that it is never something “asked for”, is usually taken very lightly. No matter the victim’s gender, age, or clothes, since nothing of the latter is an indication of consent to such actions.

Women are taught to adjust and watch the way they dress, in order to lessen the probability of a possible attack. It’s like women are taught that their legs are an open pit stop for men that need a place to rest. A vacant body with no restrictions when it comes to accepting guests. With knees pried open by random strangers, a body touched by all the wrong people- so much- that even in a bed full of safety we cripple with fear. Women are taught to never make their way back home by themselves, unless they’re physically accompanied by another male. Same goes for catcalling- because many men have only been taught to respect other men. So I just have to ask; Am I just not enough? Am I not worthy enough of their respect?

And I’m not saying that all men are shaped this way. But, unfortunately, women are indeed treated differently in the streets, seen as provocative, even if all they seem to do is walk.

Of course, men are often victims of abuse, as well. And the greatest problem -other than the one they’re coping with- is that no one ever talks about it. Because “men can’t get raped”, and “men can’t experience abuse”, since they are constantly expected by society  to act as alpha males with no soft spots. Because we choose to believe that if a man gets raped, it’s not rape.  We hardly let men to even talk about abuse, because they will be seen as weak, or helpless.

We are so afraid of victims’ voices, that they decide to be afraid of it, too.

And when it comes to sex, the most important thing to keep in mind, is that it takes the consent of two. If the other person is just laying there, walking down the street, wearing certain clothes, looks different on the street, or is just not ready, or even not in the mood, it’s not love. It’s not even sex; It’s rape. It’s rape or abuse when you ask them to stop, and they don’t. Sometimes they do, but not always.  But thing is, we’re not supposed to live under the hope that they will, or that the won’t even initiate the action in the first place.

But the time has come. We will not be taught to silence ourselves because our stories make us less beautiful. We were not born with a fire inside our bellies for someone to come and just put it out. Victims’ stories matter, and we need to learn to rattle them out. Any sort of abuse can happen to anyone, and the only one who defines its nature is the victims themselves. Nobody has the right to tell you that’s it’s not what it is, if you feel that it is. Sometimes, the shape of society can make you feel as your insides are scarped clean like the inside of a cantaloupe. But we have to finally learn to grow stronger from the breaking.

Abuse might completely tear you in half, but it will not end you.

So, walk freely. Don’t swallow your fear, but learn to control it. Because a life filled with fear is a life that is not lived. Speak your mind, and your stories, as loudly as possible. Don’t let anyone hush you. And above all; never hold yourself responsible. Because your abuser could have gone through life without abusing you. Remember, it was all their choice, and their decision to do those things. They would have lost nothing if they didn’t do those things. It wouldn’t take anything away from their life not to destroy yours.

Hold. Them. Responsible.

And I cannot guarantee to any victim that they will forget, or that the triggers will eventually disappear. I know mine have not. But we all learn to move forward, no matter how hard it may seem, and even if you think tomorrow will never come, and as if today will be the most difficult day to pass.

But what I can promise, is that the hurt will pass, once you, like a broken affirmation, let it go.

Remember, the most beautiful flowers grow-

In the most unexpected places.

 

[If you are struggling with abuse, depression, or PTSD due to an attack, remember you are not alone; Call the European support hotline: 116123. ]

 

Author: Ioanna Vargianiti

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