Jason put you in the hospital, and your parents finally Did Something - they put you in another hospital, in an adolescent psychiatric ward. The orderly led you in, your duffel bag slung over your shoulder; you were still wearing Jason's bruises, and you saw who paid particular attention to them. The boys on the other side of the partition, through the plexiglass wall. A few of the girls, who looked away quickly as if afraid to be caught noticing.
And Kai. Kai curled up on the sofa of the dayroom, ignoring the TV; Kai staring directly at you, the only one who met your eyes. Kai defiant.
You looked away first. Of course you did.
Of course she became your roommate.
She leaned against the door and demanded your story, and you gave up on no early on, and you let it pour out - not pour, not really, because it came out in jagged clumps. You had never spoken of it. Not about Jason. Not about his father.
"But you moved in with him," she said.
You don't know how to answer. You did.
"You should've left, if you really didn't want him."
"I didn't feel like I could."
"And you never liked it?"
You don't know how to answer. How you felt never had anything to do with it.
She laughed, low and bitter. "Years. You never liked it? You never came?"
You are silent, you are still. You can't answer. Because you did, but he hurt you. You did, but you almost died at his hands. You did, but his father -
She laughed again. "I thought so."
And to her, you are weak and you are prey.
"Give Help, Not Blame" original artwork by Heather Keith Freeman of FireSea Studios. 10"x14", pen and ink on watercolor paper. Heather has an excellent blog post about this piece here. This auction is for the original physical work, not reproduction or sale rights, which are retained by Heather.
This post requires bonus disclaimer in that you need to know that Kai is, of course totally fucking wrong, here and everywhere - and I'm sure you get that everywhere else, but I need you to hear it here, because victim-blaming is massively pervasive. We hear victim-blaming comments everywhere we go at BARCC. There are plenty of people who blame survivors for not leaving, or who point to a body's involuntary response to stimulus as evidence that the person wanted it.
We see victim-blaming a lot from other people considered at risk; we see it more from women than from men, actually. It seems to be our default setting, culturally, to other people - to pinpoint what that person did "wrong", so if you can just not do that, you will be safe. Because the alternative is unthinkable.
Calling her names will not make you safer. Blaming her for what someone else did to her will not make you safer. (Yes, him too; I'm quoting Heather's art is all.)
What will make you safer?
Dismantling rape culture. Getting educated and educating others. Breaking the Someone Else's Problem barrier. Being a good bystander and making it clear that you find sexual violence unacceptable.
For more on that, follow the BARCC blog!
Team Venture shoutout to belgatherial, bloganthonning halfway across the world in New Zealand!
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Current total: $665.