grown men who look like the predator

who were your predators growing up? 

did you know them personally?

a pastor, a soccer coach, a teacher, another person’s friend, father, brother? a laundry list of male extended relatives?

who are your predators as you grow up?

the young man that watches and follows you after class, only to ask you where you’re running off to like you fucking owe him an apology? strangers on street corners, in bars and restaurants, staring at your body as it moves in its natural way, projecting their own obscenities onto you, making jokes about your name, how you remind them of all the women they’ve consumed as they, too, “grew up”?

who are your predators now that you’re grown up?

the older male coworker who has too much to say about the female anatomy, who really shouldn’t have anything to say about the female anatomy, who’s married and has a daughter, who always says he’s the proud son of a single mother?  

and what does abuse look like when it’s “not abuse”? what are these strange feelings you get around people, around men? what does it mean to be unsure? what does it mean when you weren’t attacked or assaulted, but felt lured, groomed, preyed upon, exploited? what does it mean to feel rather than think, and what does it mean to find knowledge in those feelings? what does it mean to reflect, years later, and to feel, to know, that you could have been raped? what do we call that gray area that isn’t even really a “gray area”? how do we make sense of the evolution of abuse? the most decadent elephant in the room, that fucking pandemic of subtlety that we never talk about or really write down for the world to see, yet know, in the deepest pits of our stomachs, to be the highest of all Truths. 

how do we go from thank God I wasn’t fucking raped to

I was almost fucking raped, and rape is the most incessant yet insidious weapon of terror, and almost everyone around me feels and knows that terror, lives with that fear, actively struggles against the aftermath of the terror that has been waged against them, and I want the fucking world to know that I will die speaking out against the desecration of our existence