Me and a Gun: Fiction & Sexual Abuse Discussion*

The fiction piece below contains triggers.
Skip to discussion if you’d like to chat.

me and a gun fiction sexual abuse discussion Greta Stone

Me and a Gun

[Flash fiction]

The cold metal barrel pressed to the back of my neck. Pinned to the hood of a stranger’s car at the back of the mall parking lot, I struggled to breathe. Snot smeared from my nose and tears made the skin at my temple stick to the aluminum surface beneath me. My hair lay sprawled and tangled over my face, masking the real world on the other side—the world in bitter, cold, November darkness. My most intimate parts bare to the night, I squeezed my eyes shut tight. See no evil. See. no. evil.

Pressure from the barrel let up, but I stayed put as the rip of his zipper warned me of what would come next. The back of his hand brushed my bare thigh as he freed himself. I winced. It was coming, and it was going to be horrifying.

Dissociate, my mind told me. So I tried.

Somewhere in the distance beyond the van blocking us from view, two women chatted, the thud of car doors, an engine starting. I focused on those details. I focused on anything but him, my heart pounding so fiercely it drummed a rapid rhythm in my ears.

The bright parking lot lights, the alarm button on my car remote, the key I had lodged against the palm of my hand were all futile against his skillful attack. I should have run when he stepped up with a smile, when I politely smiled back while my instincts called Danger!, when I told myself not to overreact, when I didn’t want to be labeled a bitch.

But I didn’t.

Instead, I caved to compassion and lent him my phone, carelessly surrendering my wrist. With one slick twist, he flipped my fate.

The barrel returned to my neck now, heavier, colder from the night air.

My shoulders ached, arms numb as the zip-tie on my wrists chafed the skin beneath. He used his hips to jam me against the car. At the icy collision of bare thigh to metal, I recoiled. The gun barrel dug deeper into the soft flesh at the base of my skull, scolding me. I held still, obeying its command.

A brush, a breeze, a hard button pressed to my soft flesh. My insides burned as he ripped through me. I opened my mouth to scream but bit the hair that fell in instead. I willed him away, praying for a savior, a miraculous rising of the sun, a heart attack…for him or me, didn’t matter.

My thoughts stuttered, running off far, far away then ripping back to the present with every thrust of his hips. I must survive this. But why? Was it worth surviving?

My mind grew tired of running so it stayed right there with his heavy panting, the clink of my hoodie zipper, and the eery silence beyond our horrid bubble until he released himself inside of me, leaving a stain only I would see. Forever.


Let’s Discuss

Why would I write something so dark and horrid? Three reasons.

  1. I am a sexual abuse victim. I have endured multiple sexual abuse situations. I choose not to be loud about it, but it is an important topic to me.
  2. I’ve lived with depression for as long as I can remember, and it wasn’t until I started channeling the darkness into writing that I could function well in everyday life.
  3. Society sends us mixed messages when it comes to personal safety. This is the point I want to discuss today.

ground rules

There are two sides to every incident and every incident could play out in one of two ways. Let’s use the example from the story above. First, I need to clarify a few things.

Although it’s not explicitly stated in the story above, we’re going to assume that the victim is female. Yes, all of it could happen in reverse or with same sex or with any kind of person that lives. But this is the scenario I relate to. So this is what I’m writing.

For the sake of simplification (because this is going to get kind of complicated), I’m going to name the man from the story Lucas and the woman  Olivia. (2016’s top two names, although different sources quote different names.)

Okay. Still with me?

the real question Cell phone

So, Lucas approaches Olivia, asking for help. “My car died and my wife has my phone.”  *points over shoulder toward mall* “May I borrow yours to call someone?”

Olivia can do one of two things:

  1. Help Lucas by lending him her phone.
  2. Deny help and get away as fast as possible.

What does society expect Olivia to do?

That’s a good question.

“Baby, you don’t go around accusing innocent people.” ~Jake Houseman, Dirty Dancing

two-faced

It all depends on how the incident turns out. If Lucas is not a criminal, society will praise Olivia for helping (“What a kind and giving person you are!”) and shun her for denying help (“Don’t be such a bitch.”) If Lucas is a criminal, society will shun Olivia for helping (“Are you stupid? What were you thinking? You were asking for it.”) and praise her for running (“That was some quick thinking on your part. Saved your life!”)

Don't judge a person by appearanceThe problem is, Olivia  has no way of knowing if Lucas is a criminal or not when he approaches. The best attackers make themselves appear safe and non-threatening. And often the people who look tough and “criminal” are soft-hearted romantics. (Notice I said often, not always.)

So if Olivia doesn’t know what Lucas is, how should she respond?

The answer is, any fucking way she wants to in order to feel safe.

hold that thought

In the moment, there is no time to worry about what others will think of you or say about you. You must act on instinct. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t ignore it. And this applies to the long-term manipulations too. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t ignore it.

It’s that exact hesitation your attacker needs to make their move. With random acts of violence, it’s the pause before handing over the phone. Your attacker knows what society expects of you. He knows you don’t want to be labeled a bitch. He relies on that fact to trap you.

In long-term manipulations, it’s the pause while you recollect all the good things you know about the attacker that seem to disagree with that icky feeling you have that something just isn’t right. Again, he knows. He’s relying on the surety that you will not quickly dismiss all the good things you know about him. In fact, he has most-likely groomed you right into this position. (Read more about grooming here.)

don’t judge meSexual assault discussion

What it all comes down to is that so many attacks and incidents could be avoided if we didn’t stop to consider “What will people think of me if I falsely accuse him/make it clear I don’t like what he’s doing?”

Stop doing that. Personal safety first. No matter what.

And society, for your part, stop judging others period. Just stop.

Your turn

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Have you experienced The Pause before? How did it turn out for you? What did others have to say about it? How do you feel about societal standards and how they play into sexual assault?

Talk to me.


All images in article are from free royalty free website pixabay.com.

I’m Not Sex-Starved or Suicidal: Tips For Channeling Your Dark Side

tips for channeling your dark side

I was listening to Eminem the other day (yeah, you heard me right) and started thinking about public persona. Eminem, like many artists, especially poets and lyricists, get a bad rep for being negative, dramatic, and sometimes violent. Is that who Marshall Mathers is? Or is that just what he writes about? If it’s not who he is, does he have the right to make music about it? I mean, it kinda sounds fake. >___>

Thing is, if you judged me on my art alone, particularly my poetry, you’d be convinced I’m sex-starved and suicidal.

You’ll be pleased to learn I’m neither of those things. *Cheshire cat grin* So what’s the deal?

Creative Outlet

If you’re an artist, you likely know what the deal is, even if you’ve never put it into words. But then, of course you have. And if not, you’ve put it into imagery. You get it. Dark creative work does not equal a dark person. Dark thoughts? Most definitely.

So take a seat. Let’s chat for a minute.

There are two Me’s. Well, really there are about eight Me’s, but let’s not complicate things. The first Me is a social, smiling, strong woman who can lead a mass of people out of crisis without breaking a sweat. The second Me is a somber, thoughtful, delicate hermit, broken at the smallest rejection.

exercise bikingThere’s a place in the world for both sides of me. But there are reasons I aim for the first in most of my business and personal dealings. She is a more pleasant person to be around. She gets things done. She’s easier to love. And she enjoys life.


However, suppressing the second would only be harmful to myself and others in my life because, without a safe place to exist, she will rear her ugly head at the most inopportune time.  

Hence, an outlet.

There are plenty of other outlets—sports, heavy machinery, exercise, eating, etc. My outlet of choice just happens to be creative. Well, honestly, sometimes it’s eating. But I’m working on that.

If you get what I’m talking about and are in search of a way to better manage the two halves of your soul, join me on…

The Dark Side

Come to the dark side. We really do have cookies.We really do have cookies. Why do you think you feel so guilty when you eat them? 😛

Punching holes in walls, ripping your friend’s head off over something stupid, and self-destructive behavior (eating disorders, chemical addictions, self-sabotage) are all good signs you’re not managing your dark side well.

Let’s see if we can channel all that negative energy into a safe place. For the sake of this article, I’ll focus on poetry because it can be done anywhere and doesn’t require expensive supplies, unlike other creative outlets like painting and photography.

I typically use one of the two following methods.

Method One

When something is bothering me, nagging at my conscience, or interrupting my thoughts too often throughout the day, it needs a safe place to escape. So I start by figuring out what the issue is (if it isn’t blatantly obvious). Let’s say I feel hurt.

Hurt is much too broad of a topic to create anything that isn’t cliche. We need to go deeper. I will continue to ask myself questions (much like a therapist might) until I hit the flaming hot center of the issue.

focus dictionary writingFollow me on this exercise:

Why do I feel hurt?
My relationship with someone isn’t going the way I thought it would

What’s different about it?
I thought I could trust him.

Why don’t you trust him?
He started off so sweet. Now he’s kind of pushy.

Pushy about what?
Physical affection.

How is he pushy?
He just…expects it. Like I owe him.

How does that make you feel?
Like a slut.

hurt → lack of trust → sexually pushy → blames me → slut-shamed

This internal conversation can happen in a matter of seconds or it could take days. Once I’ve narrowed down the original feeling into something more definable, I encourage the concept to tumble around my mind for a few more hours or days.

I’ll end up with bits and pieces coming together slowly. Sometimes I write them down just so I don’t lose them or so they don’t keep me up at night. Other times, especially when they develop quickly, they do just fine in my head.

When I’ve got enough pieces to work with, I sit down and write it, including edits, until it’s ready to share. This is where focus helps. Write your bits and pieces down, rearrange them, connect them, swap words out for better ones (there’s no shame in using a thesaurus!) and don’t stop until it’s done.

The result:

he said poem by Greta Stone

 

Well, dang. That was a bit…intense. You might be thinking, “Is that really what he said?” The answer is no. He said a lot of things like it so it’s not far off. 

Then why the drama?

Because you weren’t there to experience it, my words have to magnify the situation in order to bring you even remotely close to what I felt in the moment. Even though these aren’t his exact words and they didn’t happen all in one conversation (or even all with one specific guy,) it gives you the feel of the situation. That’s what poetry does. It packs a lot of punch in very few words.

Method Two

With this method, I start with a prompt, often just one word. (@TastyPoems on Twitter are my favorite!) For this example, let’s say the word is bereft.

Hm. It doesn’t do much for me initially other than give me a general concept of lacking something. My instinct leans toward a lack of affection. I need lots of it, so this makes sense.

In search of further inspiration, I look the word up in the dictionary. Some of you smarter folk (*cough*vocabulary nerds*cough*) may be able to skip this step.

bereft
(adjective)
deprived of or lacking something, especially a non-material asset.

“Deprived” adds to my original line of inspiration, but nothing else grabs me. That’s not always the case. Sometimes other words in the definition or even synonyms can kickstart my inspiration.

From this point, I use a similar process as Method One, but draw on different areas of my mind. Here’s what I’ve got so far: Bereft of affection.

What are some other words for affection? Hugs, kisses, passion. Okay, I guess I’m going with physical affection here.

Passion. I like it. Bereft of passion. Phrased as such, it gives me the feeling like I could never be satisfied. Insatiable is another good word. I jot these down and begin to explore in more detail what it is I want and how I feel when I don’t get it. Bits and pieces, rearrange, upgrade words, and bang! I’ve materialized another dark part of me.

The result:

poem by Greta Stone

In The End

Method One poems tend to be the darkest because those are the thoughts that haunt me. Whereas Method Two poems help keep the visible surfaces of my mind clean and dust-free. Maintenance, you could say. I’m glad to have conquered both and feel better for it.

Once the thoughts have been immortalized in words, I am free of them. It’s as if my pen and paper (or keyboard and Google doc) are a scapegoat for my troubles. Now I can go about my business with a smile and it’s not fake. It’s real because I’ve escaped a dark moment.

What is your outlet for dark thoughts? Do you have a process?

Anorexia

You used to watch me dance.
I hated it.
My body was your habit.
You captured me
with your power,
manipulation…
And you, like Satan,
entered every soul.
You were always there.
I had no control.
Like mold that spreads,
you were everywhere.
That’s when I stopped eating.

 

anorexia_poem_by_greta_stone

Six Was Innocent

Greasy pizza at the flea market
That we lived for
Learning how to write
our names
Ice-cream melting on my shirt
And not caring
It was innocent
Until pizza made me sick
And my name was being
Written on the bathroom walls
And my shirt was soaked
With tears because I cared
And I wish I could go
back to six because
six was innocent.

sixwasinnocent_poem_by_greta_stone