We hold onto to our stories

long after the danger has passed

long after we have been liberated

by our own courage

by the intervention of others

by time

by circumstance

in part because of how your face changes

when we tell you our truth

You don’t mean to look at us differently

We know that

But we become someone different in your eyes

we are not objects for your pity

we are not damsels in distress

we are not mysteries that need to be solved

we are not broken toys that need repair

We are survivors

Survivors who have walked through hellfire to be where we are

Who know self-hatred and shame

like we know the lines on our palms

like we know our faces in the cracked mirrors that tell us lies about blame, about our ugliness

We have days when we are warrior women who will put your courage, your fierceness to shame

We have days when we are laid low by pain of remembrance

that you cannot imagine living through and still breathing

There are days when we are stretched thin and haunted, our will to survive fragile

These are the dangerous days

Do not turn away

This is when we need to know that you can still see our worth, our beauty, our value even when we can’t

You may need to tell us hundred times

a thousand times

and we may still not always believe it

this will frustrate you

scare you

keep talking

keep listening

and remember that we are more

than the worst that was done to us


© 2017 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All rights Reserved


  1. I believe that even though we doubt what other people say about us, at the back of our heads we hope that there must be some truth behind them, truth which we can always use as a foothold from falling into the pits of self-destruction, assurance that perhaps all those efforts to keep breathing were not as meaningless as we initially thought. And a great proof of this importance lies within the words of gratitude said by the people you helped live through the same struggles you’ve battled in the past.


  2. I apologize if this long-winded interpretation cannot speak enough for the emotions of the poem. I am no survivor like you, but I really appreciate the efforts you’ve been putting to help other people.


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