A Letter To A Rapist, She Is Stronger Than You'll Ever Know

A Letter To A Rapist, She Is Stronger Than You'll Ever Know

Activists are calling us "the generation of change," let's act like it.
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April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. While we are painfully aware of it, it is important to talk about it and teach the next generation a better way. This is my contribution, and to the untold numbers of survivors in the world, stay true to yourselves, you are all amazing and stronger than anything anyone will ever tell you.

A Letter to A Rapist

You're the reason I don't sleep at night.

You’re the reason this world isn’t right.

To her, you were just another face until you took her to that godforsaken place

Your nails were dirty and your breath smelled like whiskey and evil intentions

You took her innocence like it was something to be bought and sold.

You were probably “too busy” to realize she was only 13 years old

You’re the reason she couldn’t get out of bed

And the reason she would start crying without a word being said

When I went to give her a hug, she would cringe and almost cry

And what kills me is that we have the same color eyes

What hurts me more is that you’re not just a “man”

See, you made her a statistic

You made her spirit bend until it broke because it’s not elastic

You’re not just a man

You’re the reason I worry when my sisters walk alone

You’re the reason I lock every door and window before I leave home

You’re not just a man

You’re the sad reality that 1-6 women are going to be raped in their lifetime

And from Stanford to ISU preview, why does this shit happen all the fucking time?!

But guess what, you’re not a man

Because despite your efforts, she did not die in that house

She grew to be a lion, and you’re just a minuscule mouse

YOU ARE NOT A MAN

Because my mother raised me to be what you’re not

And my father taught me to have something that you never got

Ladies and gentlemen, that’s called respect

At the end of the day, you’re just a nightmare

But the boogieman is dead and she’s too happy to care

And what happened to her wasn’t right

But she rose from the ashes in despite

In spite of a broken system that protects monsters like you

But she’s strong enough to look back at you and say FUCK YOU

Our world is full of hashtags and trends. But once, just once, I'm hoping for everyone to put down the phones for a second. Just, for a second. Stand up, and use your voice! Survivors are your parents, your siblings, your neighbors, and your friends! Celebrities have come out in mass to call for change. Musicians like Lady Gaga have written powerful and impactful songs that have inspired a generation.

I see on the news that activists are calling us "the generation of change," let's act like it.

Cover Image Credit: Sydney Sims

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Yes, I Had A Stroke And I'm Only 20

Sometimes bad things happen to good people.
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Recently, I read an article on Cosmo that was written by a woman that had a stroke at the ripe old age of 23. For those of you who don't know, that really doesn't happen. Young people don't have strokes. Some do, but it's so incredibly uncommon that it rarely crosses most people's minds. Her piece was really moving, and I related a lot -- because I had a stroke at 20.

It started as a simple headache. I didn't think much of it because I get headaches pretty often. At the time, I worked for my parents, and I texted my mom to tell her that I'd be late to work because of the pain. I had never experienced a headache like that, but I figured it still wasn't something to worry about. I went about my normal routine, and it steadily got worse. It got to the point that I literally threw up from the pain. My mom told me to take some Tylenol, but I couldn't get to our kitchen. I figured that since I was already in the bathroom, I would just take a shower and hope that the hot steam would relax my muscles, and get rid of my headache. So I turned the water on in the shower, and I waited for it to get hot.

At this point, I was sweating. I've never been that warm in my life. My head was still killing me. I was sitting on the floor of the bathroom, trying to at least cope with the pain. Finally, I decided that I needed to go to the hospital. I picked up my phone to call 911, but I couldn't see the screen. I couldn't read anything. I laid down on the floor and tried to swipe from the lock screen to the emergency call screen, but I couldn't even manage that. My fine motor skills were completely gone. My fingers wouldn't cooperate, even though I knew what buttons needed to be pressed. Instead of swiping to the emergency call screen, I threw my phone across the room. "Okay," I thought, "Large muscle groups are working. Small ones are not".

I tried getting up. That also wasn't happening. I was so unstable that I couldn't stay standing. I tried turning off the running water of the shower, but couldn't move the faucet. Eventually, I gave up on trying to move anywhere. "At what point do I just give up and lie on the floor until someone finds me?" That was the point. I ended up lying on the floor for two hours until my dad came home and found me.

During that two hours, I couldn't hear. My ears were roaring, not even ringing. I tried to yell, but I couldn't form a sentence. I was simply stuck, and couldn't do anything about it. I still had no idea what was going on.

When the ambulance finally got there, they put me on a stretcher and loaded me into the back. "Are you afraid of needles or anything?" asked one EMT. "Terrified," I responded, and she started an IV without hesitation. To this day, I don't know if that word actually came out of my mouth, but I'm so glad she started the IV. She started pumping pain medicine, but it didn't seem to be doing anything.

We got to the hospital, and the doctors there were going to treat me for a migraine and send me on my merry way. This was obviously not a migraine. When I could finally speak again, they kept asking if I was prone to migraines. "I've never had a migraine in my whole life," I would say. "Do you do any drugs?" they would ask. "No," I repeated over and over. At this point, I was fading in and out of consciousness, probably from the pain or the pain medicine.

At one point, I heard the doctors say that they couldn't handle whatever was wrong with me at our local hospital and that I would need to be flown somewhere. They decided on University of Maryland in Baltimore. My parents asked if I wanted them to wait with me or start driving, so I had them leave.

The helicopter arrived soon after, and I was loaded into it. 45 minutes later, I was in Baltimore. That was the last thing I remember. The next thing I remember was being in the hospital two weeks later. I had a drain in my head, a central port, and an IV. I honestly didn't know what had happened to me.

As it turns out, I was born with a blood vessel malformation called an AVM. Blood vessels and arteries are supposed to pass blood to one another smoothly, and mine simply weren't. I basically had a knot of blood vessels in my brain that had swelled and almost burst. There was fluid in my brain that wouldn't drain, which was why my head still hurt so bad. The doctors couldn't see through the blood and fluid to operate, so they were simply monitoring me at that point.

When they could finally see, they went in to embolize my aneurysm and try to kill the AVM. After a successful procedure, my headache was finally starting to subside. It had gone from a 10 on the pain scale (which I don't remember), to a 6 (which was when I had started to be conscious), and then down to a 2.

I went to rehab after I was discharged from the hospital, I went to rehab. There, I learned simple things like how to walk and balance, and we tested my fine motor skills to make sure that I could still play the flute. Rehab was both physically and emotionally difficult. I was constantly exhausted.

I still have a few lingering issues from the whole ordeal. I have a tremor in one hand, and I'm mostly deaf in one ear. I still get headaches sometimes, but that's just my brain getting used to regular blood flow. I sleep a lot and slur my words as I get tired. While I still have a few deficits, I'm lucky to even be alive.

Cover Image Credit: Neve McClymont

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How Living With An Broken Collarbone Is Teaching Me To Slow Down

The Simple Things Are Your Blessings

Akoma52
Akoma52
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As we all are aware, life is this fun little game we were thrown into and can never escape. It is living up to expectations. It is failing to meet the mark. It is realizing what you excel with an understanding that you can't do everything. It is working with limitations while trying to break through the barriers anyway. It is staying up late smoking weed, drinking until your soul comes up, and sleeping next to someone who makes you feel whole...or maybe they just make your body feel better. Whatever floats your boat.

Life is trying to make every deadline and beating others, and making mistakes that have every potential to fuck you entirely up for the next 5 minutes, 5 days, and 5 years. And the best part? We never know when shit could straight up hit the fan and it seems like life itself is worthless. But then there are days when the sun is bright and the clouds are floating, and it feels like nothing could ruin the simple moments.

There are days when I wake up in major pain and my boyfriend is right there ready to wipe my stressed tears and support me. There are days when all I want to do is run wild, but I remember that I have to take this time to heal and rebuild my strength. There are days when all I'd rather do is sleep but I have responsibilities to take care of. From all this, I am learning to be more patient with myself after ironically boldly pushing myself to go further than I had. It cost me a good bit of skin but I earned my scars and now I have some hilarious stories to share going forward-- though not without some disapproving glares. But those don't bother me.

As long as I am smiling and still moving around by myself, then I know I will be alright. I have to remind myself daily that I can go as far as I push myself but to give myself a break and let myself breathe. Knowing who I am, I have always been notorious for doing 1,000 things at one time and then becoming stressed over them all plus five more. I know this isn't the smartest or most efficient thing to be doing to myself, and I admit to working less on not doing it in the recent past. I am not ashamed, to tell the truth, I am just very very fatigued.

My grandmother always tells me to "take a pearl and make a necklace". What this means to me is to reflect on every moment and every day, and take something away from it. Living with a broken collarbone has been a very reflective experience for me. Learning to be dependent on someone everyday for just about everything has been the biggest challenge. I am a very independent woman.

I have never liked anyone doing anything for me if I could find multiple ways to accomplish MY task-- even as an elementary school kid, group projects were not my thing. Not being able to use the right side of my body for two-and-a-half weeks now forced me to become dependent on everyone I knew it seemed like-- my boyfriend most of all. And everyone it seemed was more than willing to help me.

I know to some this may seem like a "why is she bothered by this??" kind of thing, and for the record, I'm not bothered, just not used to the feeling is all. I'm not used to having everything done for me for the most part. Tying my shoes, bathing, putting on clothes, eating, writing, typing-- and to make matters more restive, I am a RIGHT-HANDED ART MAJOR! There is never, and will never be a moment when I don't need both of my hands to do something related to my field of study.

However, coming into the studio and seeing just how much my professors are willing to help me to accomplish the projects, built my trust up that things would work themselves out.

Yes, my collarbone makes each day difficult in a new way but the amount of positive energy I receive in studio, from my job, at home with my boyfriend, and from my friends makes each day another healing experience. I reflect on this every day. I take a pearl and string it onto the necklace, and smile at how beautiful it is becoming. I am learning to slow down, count my blessings, and to not put a time limit on life. Life goes on, and it isn't a race.

Shit could hit the fan tomorrow and then be better than normal the day after. I could lose everything in a matter of seconds, but I am learning to instead of having a pity party and crying about what ails me, take a pearl and make a necklace. Reflect and Understand and Keep Moving Forward. Looking back does nothing, and time is relative. Each moment is and will be different so why wish for an old feeling to return?

Akoma52
Akoma52

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