By: Melissa Garcia Velez
I’m sorry almighty creature,
For so long I’ve kept you hidden, I’ve ignored you, escondida en la profundidad,
Punished you and disown you.
I hated you, detested knowing that you were part of me.
Attached to me. My body.
You, I used to believe, caused my agony, that of my Mother and my friends.
I hated and feared you as much as the touch of his, Oscar’s hand.
His fucking, gross, undesired, abusive hand.
I wanted to rip you out as much as I wanted to push him off my 6 year-old
I blamed you for the worst nightmares I’ve experienced.
Like a magnet you attracted them towards me
and murdered my soul.
Savagely you tortured me for the rest of my life, my trust, my peace.
And the belief that I was worth anything or that I was beautiful.
I ignored your pains, screams, desires, your words.
Your silences, your existence became meaningless to me.
I shut your voice like he covered my five-year old mouth as he, Javier, walked me
Into his dim room and pulled down my underwear and began to
Touch me as he climbed on top of me.
His fucking voice and touch destroyed me
when I am discovering I am more than that.
You made, I also believed, Mario touched me, touch you, at the age of 7
And you did nothing to defend yourself. Nothing.
No scream, no fighting back, you allowed his dark, evil hand to
Touch you, to open my small, skinny as a tooth pick legs and touch me.
I couldn’t believe you betrayed me, that you betrayed all the girls and women
That carry you with pride and grace. I simply loathed you, everything about you.
You caused my uncle to touch me at the age of 19 and there I went
Back into this bottomless, black, murky hole.
No one came to my rescue.
I felt like dying.
I felt a plastic bag blowing in the wind with no direction, lost in the
murkiness of my own thoughts, of wanting to disappear forever.
I’m sorry because I was blinded by my ego,
my anger, pain and I was being selfish.
Drowning in my agonies and blaming you, loathing you.
But it was not you, not your fault.
I’m sorry I silenced you
When you wanted to curse the world, when you wanted to cry and scream.
I’m sorry for not realizing
That we both had been tortured and killed.
I’m sorry my universe for not keeping you safe.
For not realizing that it was their fault.
They, knowingly, planted a bomb within us.
They, for the sake of their fucking, “uncontrollable” pleasure
isolated us and made us enemies.
I am reclaiming you, owning you, making you realize
That you are beautiful, a flower blooming in the sun, the warrior of my life,
And the center of my universe.
Today you’re taking over the world with your power.
Your voice is being heard.
Your stories are being told.
You are valuable.
You’re a majestic producer of life, love and hope.
You’re no longer silent, living
Out of the shadows.
Today we are one, united through the pain.
Soul, body and mind.
Today we are HERE, not in the past.
Today I hear you as you beautifully
Sing, dance, talk, scream, cry, rebel, become silent and as you
Stand up for your rights and fight the oppression.
Thank you for still being here with me, feeding me energy and the
Drive to move on. Just like you, I’m learning to forgive and heal.
My Queen, Emperor, beauty of my being, you’re part of me, we are one.
Today I’m reclaiming my vagina, mi vagina, I’m reclaiming you.
Melissa Garcia Velez
The first time I ever documented my abuse was a few months after I arrived to NYC in a Hello Kitty journal my mom had given to me for my first birthday in the states. I wrote what I remembered and how I remembered it. Some time after, my mom found the journal and ripped the pages out as she exclaimed, “No vuelva a escribir o hablar de eso.” (Don’t ever talk or write about this.) I had never told anyone, not even my mom, and I guess it was hard for her to read that her daughter had been sexually molested three times. It was not until some months after that we sat down to talk about it and I told her everything. Naturally she felt guilty, hurt and impotent, asking me why I never said anything, and I told her I felt ashamed, terrified and confused.
Although it has been difficult letting go of those emotions, dealing with self esteem issues and depression, I’ve been fortunate enough to have met the most courageous, wonderful, strong, independent women who have helped me and taught me how to start healing the wounds. My high school friends that shared their stories with me, my co-activists and co-organizers, my mother, my counselor, the stories and books I’ve read, have all been elements in my healing process. I am aware not every victim or survivor can count with such support system or that everyone who has been abused, both women and men, will tell their story. I’ve come to realize (and coming out as undocumented also helped me) that by sharing our stories we can form a bond of solidarity and we don’t have to go through all the horrible moments by ourselves.
When I first shared another poem about the consequences of being abused at an open mic, this girl came up to me and told me her story and that she understood my pain. Sharing may not heal us at the moment, but we feel less lonely and more understood. We can come to a realization that it was NOT our fault, that we don’t have to blame ourselves or feel ashamed. We are often silenced; shut down, made to believe we brought all of this upon ourselves, when that’s far from the truth. We never asked for the sleepless nights, the fear and shame our clothing causes within us, the trust issues, the insecurities and confusions, the undesirable looks, and the desire to disappear. That’s why I think it’s crucial to have open and safe spaces where we can talk about these problems, where we are not looked down upon or crucified for our experiences, but rather where we can be heard.
Many crimes go unreported, so many women and men have to live with these atrocities and no justice is made. The crude reality is that we are not safe anywhere, abuse can happen anywhere and at any time. But we have to find a better way to educate others about these issues, how to make calls for stronger and just laws that do justice where it belongs, and have compassion and understand that all experiences are different, and we deal with them differently. We choose how to deal with them and coming to terms with the experiences is always a process.
It is also important to remember the psychological manipulation of abuse and the fear that’s injected into the victims. In the undocumented immigrant community this is a huge problem because the victim won’t report any crime afraid that being detained or deported will be the consequence, rather than justice, after reporting a crime of abuse. The intersections are unlimited and we need to identify and understand them.
Today I am sharing my story through poetry as a way to lend a hand to others and to let them know we are not alone. Today I am paying a tribute to all the women and men who have and are being abused, who have and are being trafficked, sold and exploited, and specially to my Mother and my friends, whose courageous acts of liberation, love, and rebellion, have pushed me to keep going every single day and remind me that I do deserve to be loved.
Today, and for the rest of my life, I’m going to be stronger and better than any of those moments. Don’t be afraid you’re not alone.
There are many things YOU can do to help raise awareness about sexual abuse and human trafficking.
Also remember if you are undocumented have been a victim of a crime in the United States or are a victim of human trafficking you may be eligible for a U or T-Visa. In speaking out we also find resources. Please contact us if you need more information. Your call or email will be completely anonymous.
If you wish to share your story as well, we are still collecting them for Coming Out Of The Shadows Undocumented and Unafraid Month. Submit yours here.
For more facts on abuse, stories, where and how to report it, and how to notice it, you can visit the links below: