Bianca Gillam

So I experienced assault at the hands of a man who did not agree with my views – I called him out on some sexist comments he’d made, and a few of our mutual friends had berated him for it, and he became convinced that I was spreading lies against him and trying to turn people against him. He got very drunk and his paranoia escalated to the point where he pushed me up against a bar, trapped me with his arms either side of me, and repeatedly threatened my life. I have had this experience, and my feelings about it, invalidated my so many of my peers (females included), who have said things such as ‘you overreacted’, ‘he was just drunk’, ‘he wouldn’t have actually hurt you’ etc. As part of reclaiming this experience I have written a poem, which I wanted to post here. For any woman who has ever been scared of a man. For any woman who has felt helpless and weak at the hands of a man. I stand with you against violence towards women.

‘between a rock and a hard place’

my spine hits wood,
blocking any movement.
his strong arms slam down
on either side of me,
cover my other avenues
of escape. he spits bile
in my direction, stewed
for weeks, unexpressed
until now. i am conscious
of my own smallness.
i wish i could be smaller,
shrinking into insignificance,
shrinking to a thumbsized
girl who could run away
on little legs, below his line
of vision. but i cannot shrink.
he is unyielding aggression,
i am small, yielding, too small
to protect myself but not
small enough to escape.
he says he’ll take my life –
he could. my fragile heart
panics, starts beating faster,
beats adrenaline through my
veins. neither fight nor flight
are an option. i am helpless.
i am nothing. he is everything.
and suddenly he is gone.
‘you’re lucky’ they say
‘it could’ve been worse’
‘he was out of control, he
was drunk, he didn’t know
what he was doing.’
i am lucky. he could have
torn me limb from limb,
with no apparent awareness
of his actions. he could’ve
really lost control, followed
through with his threat.
i am lucky. it could have
been worse. and there is
not a thing that i could
have done about it.