I know what it is like to kiss until the voice stops. To stay awake until the voice stops. To dress until the voice stops. The voice of hysteria. The voice begging you to remember. The voice shaming your body. It will never be holy. It never was.
People say that my articles are written with feeling and lack stone, cold, facts. Well, sexual assault never is a fact. It is not merely an event. It is a voice. It is a feeling. It is the rapid beating of the heart. The sweats in the middle of the night. The sexual drive that keeps you alight. It is the very knees of your body, and it touches your very soul. It doesn’t discriminate against race or gender. It tarnishes religion. It roars its PTSD with a growl familiar in every tongue.
The need for control. Of my body. It is MY Body.
I was told from a young age I was a pearl in a jewelry box. My body was precious. It was only for my husband to see. I was told my very limbs were spiritual, and at night they would agonize me. I would google and obsess. Try to recall memories in the murky depths. But I could not. My brain was a fortress and the trauma, my oppressor, would not permit entrance. Until I was touched in an intimate place, my, “No,” lacking any saving grace. Two teenagers emerging from a Yeshiva education not taught consent or sex-ed- only misrepresentation. So, as his finger trailed circles under my skirt, and I repeated “No,” I was frozen, in Yichud. I made this error. At 2 am in a parking lot in Cedarhurst I will forever remember. The floodgates were open, the oppressor entered, and the memories came unbeholden.
It became harder to rationalize Shomer Negiyah. I kissed until the panic stopped. Until the choice was mine. Until the “No,” was a directive only he could design. Until I was not a victim. Until I would not remember. I could not remember. Please, G-d, I do not want to.
But, then I had to. Because you must. Because running away trapped in a jewelry box gives you no room to say, “No!” And I did.
I was sexually assaulted before I could speak up. Before I knew how to. Before someone told him to stop. Simultaneously, I heard in school, the value of Tsnius and to be a Baas Yisroel.
But, as I get older it is harder to get re-triggered. It is harder to rationalize the voice and her derision. I was never in a jewelry box. I was never a pearl. I was a sexual object ever since I was little. So do not objectify my joints, my knees and elbows, are my choice.