When he assaulted me, —

but that is the wrong word


is what they do in video


when the men shoot a

volley of arrows into

the sea of the goblin army

Assault rifle.

No, it is not the right word

But neither is rape. Not

for this. Not for me.

I cannot bear the baggage

of that word. Not


So what I’ll say is that

he took from me

It was a theft that

left me blind

He put me temporarily

in darkness

I had to claw my way

out, clutching my


He tore out stitches

He chewed me up and

spit the bones out into

stale Manhattan air

I walked home in a hoodie

and could only think one


He took. He took.

I slept in my hoodie

zipped all the way up

as if it could sew up the

pieces he had ripped out

like a bad stitch.

I kept my hoodie zipped

because underneath it

he had rent a hole

a rip in me that

left an emptiness

a black sky void of stars

I’d walk through the city

but now the air went

right through me

I’d try to fill myself up

with reading

and school

and exercise

and sex

and paninis

But it all got swallowed

He stole from me and left

a negative, all-consuming


I was the whole black

universe and still something

was missing

I don’t remember when he

took it

Somewhere in the

nanoseconds between

when he held my face

to kiss me

and when he held my

wrists down on the mattress

I only knew when I saw his

eyes darken with an


A hunger I never saw before

I won’t say rape

I will only use these words

like a loose brick to

strike your cheek

To let fly

your teeth from their

deep roots

To leave you with

gaping sores

These words are only bullets

to pepper and season

your breast, if only

to see the hunger leave

your eyes

But your body is an imposition

I cannot figure out how to

destroy you

And so I am left with only


To drain you of your

physical might

So that I can go back in


and drain the muscle from

your arms that held me


enfeeble the thighs that

stole my thighs

I am left with only words

to fill up the space

and reclaim, remember

what you took.


I am a 23-year-old woman from the suburbs of Maryland, having previously lived in New York for university. I have studied in the fields of English literature, creative writing, special needs, and mental health. The stigma of sexual violence and mental illness is a deeply-rooted issue in today’s society, and literary organizations like this are a pathway to acceptance and healing. My experiences come from a place of pain and loss, a sense of stolen identity. I write about these things to grow, to live in dignity, and to hopefully connect with others who have endured, with the ones who have persevered, with the ones who continue to struggle and battle through every day.