Day 341: Working With Survivors

My tongue fights the formation of these words,
as if I could draw them back,
inhale the context of which they survive.

Instead, I spit them out,
these words I hate.
The ones I want to crawl back
into my mouth, into my body.

“You don’t have to report it,
until you are ready…”

Ready to face the disbelief

Ready to fight every stranger

Ready to hear “well meaning” advice
Of all the things you should have said,
What you didn’t wear
Where you walked and
The bad people you know.

“None of this would matter if…”
I want to say

If only the police wouldn’t treat you like a criminal,
as if it were your fault that God blessed you to be a woman.
And in doing so men saw you as their gift,
to unpackage and rewrap as many times as they wanted.

If only the courts

If only your parents

If only your community

If only media

If you aren’t ready to lose you mind,
your sense of self,
your worth.

To be the one,
whose label will remain even after the scars heal.
And your pain, baby girl,
will no longer be yours
but playdoh in the hands of others.
Shifting and shaping it until the image is one they form,
but still crushable until it becomes a mess of colours,
where truth and lies are indistinguishable

If… If…

So I send you into the world.
Another victim yet a survivor,
hoping you understand
that the survival has only
just begun.

© Manivillie Kanagasabapathy

AN 1: The poem for today was inspired by my work with many of the GBV Agencies that I have been employed with and the struggles of the women and men we help.

AN 2: December 6, it is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women in Canada. In 1991, the Canadian Parliment established the day of remembrance on the anniversary of the murder of 14 young women at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal, in 1989. The shooter, a 25-year-old, claimed to be “fighting feminism” and shot and killed 14 women, injured 10 women and 4 men before committing suicide.

You can find more info on the Status of Canada page or on Wiki.

December 6 always reminds me that GBW/VAW is still very close and can happen anytime. Before this event, as a kid, violence against women seemed to be something that, at least publically, we had moved passed. I was 9 when the massacre happened, and we had left Montreal just a year earlier. Maybe that is why this day always held a significant place in my heart.


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