According to LoveisRespect.org, 1 in 3 adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional, or verbal abuse from a partner. Out of that statistic, girls ages 16 to 24 experience the highest rate of partner violence. However, dating abuse isn’t confined to females in heterosexual relationships– anyone can find themselves in an unsafe situation with the person they’re dating.
I was in an abusive relationship for about a year, beginning when I was 13 and ending just before I turned 15. I am now 18, and as a writer and slam poet, I’ve written a plethora of poems about my abuser and our relationship. The following poem is what will hopefully be the last poem I write about him as an isolated experience. It is also a compilation of many poems I have written about him over the years.
One of the biggest critiques in today’s society (which also unfortunately feeds into rape culture), is the assumption that abusive relationships are immediately recognizable, always involve physical abuse, and are always perpetuated by males against females. However, this is not the case, and it is important to recognize the signs of abuse that might be happening in your loved ones’ relationships, and in your own, as well as to support victims in their time of need. Thus, I’ve added some links on teen dating violence below the text of this poem. Please remember to stay safe, and surround yourself with people who make you feel loved. ♥
the bottle and i, and how you hit both of us
you are a tall glass of something strong, and i am three years sober. they taught me prevention in school and i saw the aftermath in church, growing up staggering down the aisle praying to a convenient god to grant you your wishes, but i never believed in miracles anyway, because when you grow up hearing adults talk about Jesus, you’re going to fall in love with the first unbridled deity who tells you that you’re beautiful.
and boy, you were Zeus to my Hera, pretending yourself helpless bird to gain my trust only to rape me holy, offering me the title of “goddess” as a consolation prize for losing myself. i find it ironic that Hera is the Greek goddess of marriage and childbirth, the two things Zeus shamed her into, like maybe she is protector over what in other women had been stolen from her.
i’ve been the serpent and the apple, virgin vixen plucked from tree, juice dripping down strange mouths, let the monster crawl inside and strangle me out, but you were different, melted me like spring snow, made yourself the fire escape and the burning building, told me “just jump! you’ll be fine!” and i did. and i was. but the problem with falling from heights is you never know how badly you’ve been hurt until you wake up the next morning and see the bruises—
maybe hera should’ve warned me, “don’t hold your breath waiting for the lights in his eyes to flicker back on… you don’t know what demons have blown them out.” because i know what it’s like to offer a platter of your teeth to a god, watch him throw out the ones he doesn’t want, never thinking that maybe you’d want them back.
last time i swore i was done with you i was sobering up off the definition in your fingers, this time i caught the tail end of your scent and i ran like hell—they’ve got their programs, their twelve-step reunion party with sanity, but boy-god, man-creature, you were wrong about me. i am serpent, apple, fire, i am moat around castle you will drown in, i am goddess, i am fine! i am a tall glass of something strong, and you will drink yourself under the table.