“A-B-U-S-E” That’s what teacher says to me
Holds my shoulders, eyes get wide
She looks scared, like she might cry
But she doesn’t understand
I love them and they love me,
I think, just, diff-er-ent-ly.
“What? My mother? My momma, my fiercely protective tiger mom
HAHA! Watch out her claws are out!
Mmm and my father? My daddy, my ballistic storm KA-Boom waiting to explode dad
Uh-oh! Beware! The clock is tick-tick-ticking down!”
Dragged kicking and screaming into the closet,
Tantrums quickly become a thing of the past.
Locked in, seconds become hours and hyperventilation sets in
Deprivation, no contact, she never knows when she’ll get out
Has to collapse in-to herself
Well, they’ve never hit me she says
It could always be worse, she says
But what about next time, her mind replies
Strong hands grip thin arms, shaking back and forth, bruising
“Stop crying, I said STOP!
How could you let your skin get so dark?
Gaga! Idiot! It’s ruined now. You know lighter skin is prettier.
Who is going to want you now?!”
It goes on, and she sinks to the floor, words falling on deaf ears
Seeing nothing with blind eyes,
I’m ugly she whispers
I’m ruined she says
I’m pathetic she believes.
Scars pepper the back of legs, shaking knees
Cane marks falling in sharp staccato from here to here
Belts become whips in their hands, he struggles just to stay standing
Toes curled to keep in the whimpers, tears still splash to the floor.
He can laugh about it now with other Asians, no worse for the wear
Everyone else just gives him horrified looks,
Or worse, that head tilt and frown of pity –
Pity them - they can’t possibly understand, don’t really get it, won’t ever get it!
It’s really for the best he says.
I’m so much stronger for it he confirms.
It’s not like it happens to me anymore he grins.
Oh, my younger siblings? Sure, sometimes, but that’s just how it is.
They hold hands and press back into the wall
Listening hard, over hearts beating, thumping loud in fear:
“You stupidly got in an accident?! What were you thinking?
With all the financial issues, it would have been better if you had died!
Oh you feel your life is pathetic and worthless? Well it is.
OH! Nothing’s wrong with mommy, sweethearts.
Look! Look what I bought you on the way home today?
Aren’t they beautiful? Just like you two.”
So many stories, YOU could cry and rage at the injustice - But THEY don’t.
Because they don’t even know what the word ABUSE is.
Growing up with many things unspoken, the word ABUSE doesn’t exist
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE is a way of life
Unacknowledged, swept aside, no one dares draw attention to it – It’s NOT talked about.
It’s not seen as wrong – it’s how it’s always been
Parents occasionally say, “Darling-Kiddo you know I care about you!”
To them it’s all the same, exactly what they’ve been through,
How their parents raised them and their parents before
Respect piled on respect piled on just a little bit more
They survived and didn’t die, so it all must be all right
It’s for the best, they rationalize, like with everything they do
They aim to fix hurt feelings with gruff, awkward hugs and pats on the head
Making kids act like they’re okay, like everything’s okay –
Basically telling them it’s okay--to lie!
We have to stop this, got to stop this
Stand up for ourselves, for our own lives
We have to admit there’s something wrong and act to make a change
We can’t live in fear every single day, letting it all escalate and build
We’re worth more than they say!
Stop replaying and repeating the damaging words they spew,
Echoed, tinny repetitions that should be trashed, not constantly renewed.
Don’t fall for the incomprehension an older generation exudes
One that believes OUR generation’s problems are non-existent
Where it’s okay to beat down and bully, belittling women and children
Where home life consists of shouting:
“What’s mental illness? Depression?
“Those aren’t real, stop feeling sad
“You have it so good with a roof over your head –
Stop complaining on a full stomach!”
We’re not supposed to talk about our problems, speak about them, think about them
But our own lives pale in lieu of everything unacknowledged
WE have to say something for a change to occur
Verbal or physical, it’s not okay.
It’s never been okay.
ABUSE will never be okay.