I don’t remember how old I was the first time he touched me, but I remember the feeling and I remember his words. It’s normal, he said. This is what people do.
Years later, a different city, a different man, the same conversation. Never ending days and nights of ‘normal’.
Fast forward to the first time I tried telling my mother. I was 16, struggling to understand the memories that kept popping up, spending each night stifling screams as I remembered. I was desperate for help, anything to make the pain go away.
It’s normal, she said. It happens to girls. Just be strong and try forget about it.
Now at 23, here I am again. Still remembering, still holding the screams in. Trying hard to be strong and failing miserably. Attempting to differentiate between what’s normal, what isn’t. What’s fact and what’s a figment of my own imagination.
So you tell me. What is normal?
Is it normal to be touched and raped and abused at four and eight and nine and so many times in between? Is it normal to relive it every day? Is it normal that he has the entire family on his side, and I have no one? Is all of this normal, just because I am a woman? Is it normal for my body to never have been my own, is that just what being a girl is about? Is it normal that nobody protected me and is it normal that nobody feels the need to do that still?
I am not blaming anyone for what happened to me. But I am blaming all of you for every thing since.
If none of that was normal, then why don’t you do anything about it? I am one of many, one of so many. Why aren’t you angry? Why aren’t you sad? Is my life so unimportant and my pain so meaningless? Who grieves for me and who grieves with me? Why do you let it happen, again and again? Why don’t you speak for me, why don’t you shout, why don’t you rage?
You don’t because you say the same. You say it’s normal. Just an everyday, unpleasant reality of life. And in doing so, in your silence, you too stand with the man who raped me.