Outcry: “Touch”

Here is third sexual assault poem in the series. This poem has less to do with sexual assault itself and more to do with the effects that one lives with afterwards; particularly the effects on the body. This is based on my own experience and may or may not be true for others, but from most sexual assault and abuse victims I have known, this describes at least one stage that most of use went through on the way to healing.




Her body’s a war zone, it’s ravaged and razed

Old violence still lives there; she’s damaged and dazed

Oh God, there’s a hand, it’s touching my face

Now it thinks it can penetrate me anyplace

He pulses beneath, his lap under her back

She feels his arousal, a silent attack

She can’t wriggle free, her would has gone black

And now one friendly gesture can cause a flashback

I learned very well: “safe touch” doesn’t exist

But part of me feels that I should be pissed

That he stole that away, made closeness a threat

Just one more human need I’ve had to forget

A wound that I haven’t reconciled yet

A vital heart-need that I can’t have met

A mother’s warm lap, a sister’s embrace

The want for these things was always replaced

With the need to not need, a fierce, frantic quest

A desperate marathon from which I could not rest

Running from kindness and comforting hands

Fearing that touch came with other demands

He made innocent contact connected to sex

And I’m always afraid that’s what one will expect

So I try not to feel, close my heart up once more

Quickly slam it shut and lock up that door

Knowing the longer that I keep it caged

The more work it will take to break loose as I age

How could he do that, make me so afraid?

That every reach toward me is meant to invade?

His torture created a unique form of dread

Where each touch is a sign that says “DANGER AHEAD”

But I’m tired of running, of feeling the fear

Of shying away from a touch that’s sincere

Fuck him and all of the pain he instilled

I want to fight now; I can and I will

© Sarah Henderson 2005


About writingforrecovery

Sarah is a writer and poet who speaks out about issues that make people uncomfortable. Sarah advocates for causes such a sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse, and mental illness, and often speaks openly about her own experiences. She is determined to abolish the stigma associated with these issues and believes that it starts with people telling their stories, so she started a blog called Writing for Recovery where people can do just that. She is the author of three volumes of poetry and is currently at work on her fourth. She is convinced that there's a novel somewhere in her, and occasionally picks at the chapters so far. View all posts by writingforrecovery

8 responses to “Outcry: “Touch”

  • Eileen

    Thank you for posting this, it is what I needed at this moment. I hate how being touched can trigger me at any moment. Thank you for putting these emotions into words.

    • writingforrecovery

      It used to feel like this for me all the time, too. But it really can get better, I promise you, it doesn’t have to feel like that the rest of your life. Don’t give up hope, keep working in therapy and reminding yourself that those are only feelings, only memories; they can’t hurt you anymore. Peace to you.

  • Diya Sen

    The turmoil in the heart of all the victims resounds in your words. Keep writing…

  • To Sum It Up – 16 « CSA Awareness Month

    […] Read the rest of the entry by Sahara here Bela was newly married. Besides her and her husband there was only her widowed mother-in-law in the family. Her husband’s sister used to leave her fifteen month-old daughter with her mother on her way to work every morning and collect her on her way back home every evening. There was a fourteen year-old male servant in the house who helped Bela with the housework and her arthritic mother-in-law with childcare, heating the baby’s milk, fetching and carrying, etc. […]

  • Eileen

    I wanted to leave another comment. This poem made me start to question why no one helped me & the like. I spoke about this with my therapist and she encouraged me to keep reading your blog because I am finding the voice to fight the hurt. Thank you again.

  • csaawarenessmonth

    Hi Sarah, that’s powerful writing. Thanks for sending it in. Can we please request you to post our badge with it as well? Thanks again.

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