Tell: A Poem
10.05.16 by Margarita Saona
Something incredible happened in my country [Margarita’s home country is Peru — ed] that presents evidence of the power of telling (the fifth finger of self-defense) and the idea that one wave sets thousands in motion. A small group of women started organizing a protest because of a couple of cases where the judicial system had not prosecuted men who had blatantly abused women. They created a closed Facebook group. The members quickly rose from a couple hundred to, now, over 60,000. In this group, meant to coordinate the protest about these cases, one woman started telling her own story as a survivor of abuse. And another one followed. Soon there were thousands of women telling their stories, and every minute the members of the site witnessed the shocking reality: the stories of women’s verbal, emotional, and physical abuse at the hands of men could not be contained neither in their numbers nor in the horror they related. Even though the group is still closed, many of these women, along with their allies with ties to the media, started to reveal what was happening on this Facebook site to the general public through opinion columns and newspaper articles: one after the other they denounced the pervasiveness of the terrible secret all these women had kept. A public Facebook site coordinated the details of the event and on August 13th the march #NiUnaMenos took tens of thousands of Peruvians to the streets in several cities to manifest their repudiation of the violence against women, the awful truth that had remained hidden for so long. I believe that the brave women who started sharing their stories have opened the eyes of even those used to minimizing these abuses. It is, of course, everybody’s prerogative to share a traumatic story or not. But this phenomenon has confirmed my belief in the importance of telling, both as a way to heal for the victims and as a way to create a stronger community capable to standing up to violence.
And I wrote this:
You’ve been silent for so long,
out of fear,
out of shame,
it never happened
or that it was not all that painful,
You believed it was your fault,
because that is the way they raised you
or because somebody actually told you
But now it’s time.
It’s time to tell.
You heard it from your friend,
your cousin, your sister,
your teacher, your elderly neighbor,
the young girl at the corner store,
the woman you never paid attention to,
the one you always admired from afar.
A brave one opened the door
and told her story
and, like an unstoppable tide,
We are so many…
How did we remain silent for so long?
Speak up; tell your story,
because your story concerns us all,
because each story told
clears the path for thousands more.
because only then,
when we were legion,
just how strong we were.
They won’t silence us ever again
and our daughters will know how to face
the battles that might come their way,
and if they have to fight those battles,
if they are wounded, humiliated, degraded,
they will know how to raise their voices,
they will call it loud and clear,
and we will,