I hope you’ve seen the video, seen the reaction and read her words. Halsey, an incredible, powerful woman, told her story on stage in front of thousands. You could tell how personal it was to her. Telling her experience and the experiences of people she was close to, the heartbreaking tales of people who should never have to go through what they did. It tugs on so many strings and breaks all our hearts. I want to post the poem in full. It deserves to be shared. The poem contains themes of rape and sexual assault and can be triggering.
It’s 2009 and I’m 14 and I’m crying
Not really sure where I am but I’m holding the hand of my best friend SamIn the waiting room of a Planned ParenthoodThe air is sterile and clean, and the walls are that not gray, but greenAnd the lights are so bright they could burn a hole through the seam of my jeansMy phone is buzzing in the pocketMy mom is asking me if I remembered my keys ’cause she’s closing the door and she needs to lock itBut I can’t tell my mom where I’ve goneI can’t tell anyone at allYou see, my best friend Sam was raped by a man that we knew ’cause he worked in the after-school programAnd he held her down with her textbook beside herAnd he covered her mouth and he came inside herSo now I’m with Sam, at the place with a plan, waiting for the results of a medical examAnd she’s praying she doesn’t need an abortion, she couldn’t afford itAnd her parents would, like, totally kill herIt’s 2002 and my family just moved and the only people I know are my mom’s friends, too, and her sonHe’s got a case of Matchbox cars and he says that he’ll teach me to play the guitar if I just keep quietAnd the stairwell beside apartment 1245 will haunt me in my sleep for as long as I am aliveAnd I’m too young to know why it aches in my thighs, but I must lie, I must lieIt’s 2012 and I’m dating a guy and I sleep in his bed and I just learned how to driveAnd he’s older than me and he drinks whiskey neat and he’s paying for everythingThis adult thing is not cheapWe’ve been fighting a lot, almost 10 times a weekAnd he wants to have sex, and I just want to sleepHe says I can’t say no to himThis much I owe to himHe buys my dinner, so I have to blow himHe’s taken to forcing me down on my kneesAnd I’m confused ’cause he’s hurting me while he says pleaseAnd he’s only a man, and these things he just needsHe’s my boyfriend, so why am I filled with unease?It’s 2017 and I live like a queenAnd I’ve followed damn near every one of my dreamsI’m invincible and I’m so f***ing naiveI believe I’m protected ’cause I live on a screenNobody would dare act that way around meI’ve earned my protection, eternally cleanUntil a man that I trust gets his hands in my pantsBut I don’t want none of that, I just wanted to danceAnd I wake up the next morning like I’m in a trance and there’s bloodIs that my blood?Hold on a minuteYou see I’ve worked every day since I was 18I’ve toured everywhere from Japan to Mar-a-LagoI even went on stage that night in Chicago when I was having a miscarriageI mean, I pied the piper, I put on a diaperAnd sang out my spleen to a room full of teensWhat do you mean this happened to me?You can’t put your hands on meYou don’t know what my body has been throughI’m supposed to be safe nowI earned itIt’s 2018 and I’ve realized nobody is safe long as she is aliveAnd every friend that I know has a story like mineAnd the world tells me we should take it as a complimentBut then heroes like Ashley and Simone and Gabby, McKayla and Gaga, Rosario, AlyRemind me this is the beginning, it is not the finaleAnd that’s why we’re hereAnd that’s why we rallyIt’s Olympians and a medical resident and not one f***ing word from the man who is PresidentIt’s about closed doors and secrets and legs and stilettos from the Hollywood hills to the projects in ghettosWhen babies are ripped from the arms of teen mothers and child brides cry globally under the coversWho don’t have a voice on the magazine coversThey tell us take coverBut we are not free until all of us are freeSo love your neighbor, please treat her kindlyAsk her story and then shut up and listenBlack, Asian, poor, wealthy, trans, cis, Muslim, ChristianListen, listen and then yell at the top of your lungsBe a voice for all those who have prisoner tonguesFor the people who had to grow up way too youngThere is work to be doneThere are songs to be sungLord knows there’s a war to be won– ‘a story like mine’
We are not free, until all of us are free. Keep intersectionality in mind, always. Halsey is inspirational. A beautiful, gifted poet. Time is up. We come together in marches, crowds and all over the world. Halsey you moved me to tears but you also changed me. This is a thank you as well as an appreciation. I hope it resonates with you just as much as it did with me.
Written by El,