Dedicated to the women who have given me the privilege of sharing their stories and those who shoulder the burden alone.
Girls like me know hide—
Know what parts of ourselves are not made for polite conversation.
Know normal as the spine-tightening at a crash.
Registerthe bellow of a man’s voice like an alarm.
Girls like me don’t know sleep without phones at the bedside.
Girls like me have hearts so big they’re like sponges—
Soaking up everything around us.
Girls like me don’t know self-forgiveness.
We know excuse, quiet, face to cold tile floor,
That bruises are best covered in stage make up.
But have yet to muster the self-love to pry ourselves permanently from things we never deserved.
Girls like me know shame in jokes about our experiences,
Know how to translate the language of misogyny and regurgitate it to assimilate.
Know “no” is a whisper swallowed by the monstrous night.
How are stories are met with silence or tears,
Know how to make you uncomfortable.
Girls like me don’t want your pity.
Don’t need condescending,
Are not a haphazard apology in the wake of shame.
Girls like me don’t know how to differentiate sympathy and pity.
So married to being strong,
To avoiding the caverns that made girls like us
That we aren’t sure who to let in.
Who can carry us?
Who can love us?
Girls like me are not the inventory of our scars,
Even when it feels like it some days.
Girls like me that survival in the light is the scariest thing in a rape culture.
It should be.
Girls like me are not sorry.
Girls like me know survive
Girls like me know thrive.
Girls like me know rise.
Girls like me know this is for the sisters before, with, and after me.
We are the mothers and sisters and families formed like constellations post-trauma.
We are the red worn like a crown,
Wings made in the connection.
Girls like me—be seen.
Girls like me—be heard.
Girls like me—it happened.
Girls like me—it’s not ok.
Girls like me—it’s not your fault.