Dear Abuser: I am the Revolution You Never Expected

By Shahida Arabi


Photo Credit: Photo CC-BY Gisela Giardino. Modified.

Who am I?

I’ll tell you who I am.

I am the light you tried to strangle, the light you tried to stifle in your chokehold

but my light bled all over the pages of your book, your preconceived narratives,

your filthy words and your attempts to bring terror

back into the blank space of my eyes.

Who am I?

I’ll tell you who I am.

I birthed revolution in my bones like the many women that came before me

I ignited flames beneath my skin, using the fiery spirits of women who walked beside me

as matches; we breathed fire into each other’s hearts

until the world could see us

and from the ashes we were reborn.

Who am I?

I’ll tell you who I am.

I am the fear in your hatred, the pain that you tried to use to violate my sacred

spaces, rip me apart until I was nothing, but I knew I would always be

something, somebody, and now I am.

I am layers and layers of the love and power that act as your kryptonite,

and with the words and actions of all those who rose with me,

I’ll build an impenetrable wall.

Who am I?

I am the thing that nightmarish people have nightmares about

wake up sweating about, thinking about —

their furrowed brows tense with self-doubt —

wondering if I and the other warriors I march with

could ever come back to life.

Who am I?

I am the restless rebel you tried to bury,

the one you tried to pull out by the root and eradicate

when she began to grow from the seed.

Who am I?

I’ll tell you who I am.

I am the girl you left for dead

thinking she’d always fall and never rise again.

I am the girl you cut with your razorblade wrath,

the girl you thought would never fight back.

I am the girl you underestimated, the woman you tormented, the child whose shackles you tightened.

Who am I?

I think you already know –

I think you understand.

I am the prisoner you tried to cage, the little girl you made afraid –

I am the woman who never gave up, the one who exposed your charade —

who am I? I am everything and anything that you will stand against

to try to regain control.

For every source of darkness, there is a bleeding soul,

one that shines so brightly that the entire war zone

becomes illuminated.

I am the truth, your karma, the revolt —

I am the resistance, the pieces you tried to keep shattered,

coming back together again.

I emerge quietly, but I resound loudly —

reverberate through your skin.

My power was never yours, and it was never yours to take

Who am I?

I am the second coming,

of everything and everyone                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          you tried to break.

Copyright © 2016 by Shahida Arabi. 

All rights reserved. No part of this entry may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author. This includes adaptations in all forms of media.

Get a signed copy of my new poetry collection for survivors, She Who Destroys the Light: Fairy Tales Gone Wrong, here.


7 Spiritual Ideas That Enable Abuse and Shame the Victim

7 Spiritual Ideas That Enable Abuse and Shame the Victim by Shahida Arabi
Spirituality can be a beautiful thing, a healing balm for the hurting trauma survivor. I believe as survivors we all have a right to our unique beliefs and faith. Yet there are some spiritual beliefs and principles that, when taken too far, can be distorted to blame or shame victims of abuse or other forms of trauma, proving harmful and limiting to the healing journey. It’s important to shed light on spiritual frameworks that may hinder or impede a survivor’s journey to authentic healing and can perpetuate a larger victim-shaming discourse in society. Here are seven spiritual philosophies that can be misused to blame the victim and enable abuse.
1. The idea that there is no separation. Spiritual gurus like to promote the idea that we are all “one.” This is true to some extent: we are all humans, having a similar experience of consciousness, living in an interconnected world. What affects one, will inevitably affect another (unless they are protected from the effects by a bubble of privilege). Yet the idea that abuser and victim are “one” tends to minimize and deny the reality of the abuser’s pathological behavior, which makes them far less united with the rest of humanity and society as a whole. The truth is, while we are all interconnected, abusers rarely have any respect for that sacred interconnectedness; they are more prone to being divisive and hateful to bolster their false sense of superiority, their selfish agendas and their lack of empathy or compassion for anyone other than themselves. They pose incredible harm to their loved ones as well as the larger society.
The abuser makes himself or herself distinct and separate from the victim by engaging in horrific acts of emotional, psychological and physical violence. When used to excuse the abuser, this philosophy outright denies the fact that some abusers have no ability to empathize or show remorse for their behavior, which is a large part of what makes us human. This philosophy can be exploited to justify horrific assaults on the victim’s identity and erosion of beliefs, urging him or her to reconcile with the abuser under the idea that we must treat the abuser like everyone else, like ourselves, rather than a perpetrator who needs to be held accountable for their actions.
2. Our pain is an illusion, created by our ‘dysfunctional’ thinking. We’ve all heard this one, especially in new age spiritual frameworks. In this scenario, we are the creators of our own pain due to erroneous thoughts, because “love is all that ever exists.” Yet true love rarely exists within an abusive relationship (unless it’s coming from the victim), and our perceptions of the abuse are not simply due to erroneous thinking – they are due to egregiously damaging acts of mental and physical violence…