From Project Unbreakable

There is choice.  We can die
from the shame of what is done
to us.  We can wear the names
like letters branded into our skin
and quietly disappear,
become the nothings
they say we are, banished and vanished,
or we can wear our own words.

We can show them
women are not sheep.
Girls are not fruit.
There is no shearing of hair
or reaping a harvest from us.

We learn through breath
the difference between being a victim
and becoming a survivor
is subtle, delicate
before it grows strength:

That shift across the line
of being versus agency
is a thing danced, not learned;
sidestepping guilt and spinning it
back where it belongs
with something simple as a lifted head,
a turn around to shout back
at what is muttered under breath,
or the woman who did not stand in shame, wordless,
but blocked a door 
shouting for police,
while another filmed the man
who pushed his penis against her in the subway.

Silence is death.
We must live no
until it is heard,
and shout yes
where it is needed.

About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
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63 Responses to Survivors

  1. Rhonda says:

    This is brilliant Susan. I love it, and you for your continued expression of truth as only you can say it…xoxo

  2. Rhonda says:

    Reblogged this on 50 Shades of Gray Hair and commented:
    Of the many reasons I blog, this is at the top of the list: Meeting, befriending, supporting, and being supported by a woman like Susan. Thank you for this amazing piece my friend…I love your voice and am honored to stand beside you…

  3. mimijk says:

    This is powerful and beautiful Susan..

  4. Pingback: White Space and Gray Matter… | 50 Shades of Gray Hair

  5. Magnificent poetry, Susan.

    This poem is about Surviving sexual abuse and not being a victim anymore. Hoping all other victims stand up for themselves and fight back. Am I right or wrong?

  6. claudia says:

    amen to this susan! refusing to be victims..breaking the silence.. in some countries more difficult than in others but i have hope that things change

  7. Mary says:

    A strong peace. There IS a difference between being victim and survivor; and women do need to make their voices heard. The last stanza is strong. Silence is death indeed.

  8. What can I say… as a man I’m ashamed that this has to be written… I certainly hate that women are shown as victims… great and important words

  9. powerful Susan, powerful!

  10. wow wow wow – I so love a champion – and that’s you (ps – might you have dropped a word from line 2 of last stanza?)

  11. brian miller says:

    amen. nice and empowering….you are right there is a difference between survivors and victims…and using our voice, telling out stories…letting our stories rise up together makes all the difference in the world….

  12. janehewey says:

    powerful piece, Susan. My favorite aspect is where you step up the imagery and flow in the stanza which starts “The shift across the line” Real poetry!

  13. It’s true how most true survivors are really heroes to me but because it’s expected to just keep going people can take for granted the effort put forth to sustain our momentum and then there are those who are more comfortable being a victim. It’s really hard to know how to measure struggle these days.

  14. poemblaze says:

    Powerful poem, well written. Great message.

  15. Ruth says:

    Words to live by, Susan, for anyone who has ever been counted among the victims of beings who abuse power… really such a powerful poem. Love this especially:

    That shift across the line
    of being versus agency
    is a thing danced, not learned

    It was that for me, and though I’ve never found the words to aptly describe the transition, I recognized them in what you wrote. Thank you.

  16. Oloriel says:

    A very powerfull poem, Susan, thank you very much for sharing it!

  17. Unfortunately there are too many victims because they’ve ignorantly chosen to be unforgiving… forgiveness is #1 key to true freedom, that’s liberation for generations~ I’ve experienced similar bonds~ Brilliant writing always !

  18. shanyns says:

    Yes! Yes! Yes! Survivors we are, and we wear the scars but we won’t surrender our voices. Well done my friend, well done!

  19. Amen and amen!! Susan, I have a friend working on a project about violence against women. She’s a fabulous pastor in the UCC and a fellow activist. Please, if you would like this poem considered for her project, email it to me? This is so vital, so raw, so incredible. And you are right; it’s like we say about AIDS: “Silence = Death.” Only the death is inward, in the soul… You really put this one across, one of your best ever. And that’s saying something. Amy

  20. There is no virtue in suffering in silence.Well done!

  21. jmgoyder says:

    Incredible, Susan – I am so moved. Julie

  22. Strong! Making the right choices!

  23. I visited the website and what I found there is so harrowing, chilling me to the bones. Well done my friend for this powerful poem.

  24. Wonderful poem….. There should be no victims of anything. Life is so fleeting, though, and I don’t undestand why God would allow the kind of suffering that comes at the hand of something like rape. Mine is not to reason why, though. It is but to share the love that God bestowed upon us all. And my hope is that every interaction I have in life exudes that and am certain that anyone reading your very touching words here will find that understanding in their own hearts…. Very well written…….

  25. BroadBlogs says:

    I’m still so amazed at how often victims are shamed and blamed for attacks on them. I hope there will be a day when everyone finds it incomprehensible.

    It takes such strength to survive sexual assault – let alone having to deal with that blame-game too.

  26. Absolutely fantastic. This is so very good, I don’t know where to start. Thank you for sharing it with us!

  27. ManicDdaily says:

    It is all so interesting –I think silence is death was an AIDS slogan originally, no? But of course women have been cast in difficult positions for a very long time. I think it is practically impossible for us to imagine what women in other countries deal with. Thanks, Susan. k.

  28. Women are finally really gaining equality in opportunities in Western countries..and hopefully the same will be true in other areas of the world too2s..But are they respected I’m not so sure..particularly on the internet…and some very Lord of the fly like avenues of communication.. like Reddit..if you will…

  29. nelle says:

    So evocative of Dinah in The Red Tent, one of my all time favourite characters. Can I shout a hallelujah to your words?

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