“If you say it hurts too much, I’ll stop. That’s all you have to do babe, but if you say it…I’ll hurt your friends.”
“If you fight back at all, or scream, I’ll hurt your friends. I’ll get them. It’ll be your fault. Do you know what I’ll do? Imagine their faces when I shove this inside them…imagine how they’d feel knowing you’d let me…” the knife is playfully stroked down my cheek; I can feel its sharpness. She holds it in front of me. “If you scream, I’ll shove this inside them, where I’m about to shove it inside you. Feel this pain and if you think your friends should feel it, then scream. You choose. It’ll be your fault if they get hurt. If you scream…then they’ll scream because of YOU.”
These words haunt me. Most nights I wake up choking on a silent scream, the words ringing in my ears as loudly as they did originally. I feel that horrific pain again and the desperation to keep my scream silent. To hold it in. But also, I couldn’t afford to dissociate the pain. Her threat had trapped me. I was terrified that if I dissociated, then I wouldn’t know how bad it was…and may accidentally scream later and give her permission to inflict this on someone innocent. And I wouldn’t even have felt it. I deserved to feel this. I was sure of it. So every night I wake up in that pain, my scream silent in my chest and throat, and my body rigid with the effort it took to not make a sound. Then I realise I’m not there anymore, and the scream transforms into a sob, and my body slumps, and I collapse onto my side and heave with tears rather than with pain…
I remember the powerlessness. I remember the terror that someone else would have to get hurt if I was “bad.” I was lying on my back, in this particular memory. I moved my arms, and forced them underneath me. I couldn’t fight now. I felt only relief; I couldn’t fight. I couldn’t hit her or punch her.
“Look, my arms are underneath me…I can’t fight you…I won’t let you hurt them…”
I remember she stared into my eyes, and smiled. “You’re in control here…feel the pain, and you decide if you should feel it, or whether it’s too much for you and your friends should feel it instead. If you scream, I’ll know your choice.”
What a choice. How could I…I just…how could anyone make that decision? I couldn’t. I was totally trapped. I couldn’t dissociate. I couldn’t scream. I couldn’t fight. I didn’t want to believe her threats but how could I call her bluff? It wasn’t worth the risk. It was a choice between me going through shit again, or innocent people getting hurt on my behalf. The choice was simple…though frightening.
I remember her playfully running the tip of the knife across my stomach, very gently. Toying with me. Trying to trick my body. Then she took a deep breath, smiled, moved the knife lower. “Scream if it hurts, baby…” she whispered, and winked. Oh
God oh god please god no please god just take me away now…take me from this… I took a deep breath in. I could focus all of my energy into keeping my breath inhaled. That could be my method of distraction. Don’t breathe…don’t breathe… I saw a flash. Instantaneously, fire ripped through me. I felt my body jolt involuntarily, juddering against this inanimate object that didn’t belong there. I felt the scream in my chest. ‘Don’t you dare’ I begged to myself ‘don’t scream…don’t scream…’ I focussed on the inhaled breath. Tried to picture my lungs holding it. They were holding the moment before this agony. I needed to preserve that.
Oh my god this pain… I could feel my face was wet. My eyes were crying, but I still wasn’t breathing. Somehow, I could get away with crying. Thank fuck. I have no idea how I could have stopped that from happening.
Don’t breathe don’t breathe. Focus Jade…
Another flash. Another wave. My shoulders lifted, even though the pain wasn’t there. I felt pain in my ribs even though she wasn’t hurting me there. Everything was just so rigid. Trying to contain the screams that were catching in my chest and throat. I knew if I breathed the scream would escape. I closed my eyes, trying to imagine a happy place. Imagine somewhere else. Then I stopped myself.
‘No…don’t you dare dissociate…’ I stopped myself. The imaginary world tumbled away. The pain returned. Brutal.
She took the knife away, started wiping it with something. Some chemical . I decided not to look what. I decided to take this moment to quickly let the air out and breathe in. I gasped a gulpful of air back, and was almost silent. She didn’t hear. It was okay. I had a new fresh wave of trapped air to focus on.
She grinned at me. “This will get you clean…”
I stared into her eyes…somehow pleading. Please…please please don’t do this…please…
No use. Another flash. Worse pain. Burns. My stomach muscles clenched; my body struggling with this pain, trying to fight it somehow. But the wave tore through regardless. I felt my hips, then stomach, then chest and finally shoulders and neck contract. Like some messed up Mexican wave. Mexican wave of agony.
Focus…focus…focus…don’t be the one to let her hurt someone else for fuck’s sake Jade… I was harsh to myself. It was the only way I could have managed it. I guess this was her plan.
Eventually, she stopped. She grabbed my hair and pulled me into sitting position. I bit my lip against the pain. My body didn’t want to move. It wanted to lie there, frozen, until the pain subsided. She sat behind me, twisting my hair and whispering in my ear. I can’t remember what she whispered. I was still focussing on my trapped air. I was breathing it *very* slowly through my nose. The scream was choking my throat. I was going to suffocate on a silent scream, surely.
She held the knife to my throat. “I thought I heard you scream…” she taunted. I closed my eyes, the tears suddenly coming fast. I hadn’t, I hadn’t I hadn’t I hadn’t. No way. No. No.
She tossed the knife away, and left, locking the door behind her. Was she going to carry out her threat? But I hadn’t screamed…I hadn’t…
I glanced at the knife, tossed away carelessly, no longer needed. That’s how I felt. A toy no longer needed suddenly. I thought about the knife being held to my throat and realised it was always there. I was always terrified of her threats to harm people I cared about under my name. The knife was always there. I would just do whatever it took to stop the knife from taking me.
I refused to cry…even after she’d left, still terrified that the scream would come out. I just lay down. Rigid. Shaking. Bleeding. And feeling hideous; had I screamed, was someone now getting hurt? Because of me?
I now know these were all lies. Empty threats so that she could hurt me. So many of the abusers trapped me in situations such as this. Never again.