On Being Brave

I am often told that I am brave, and I feel uncomfortable with that expression. For I feel for most of my life, I had little choice but to be “brave”. When you live inside male violence, not giving up is brave.

Only when, I view my time then, I can see that I could not let fear in for it would of destroy me.

As a child, I was known as a “brave girl” for I never cried. The last time I remember that I cried, was from pain was when I was six. Then I cut my knee and got poison in the cut.

Then I cried – only for my mum to say I was a baby.

I never cried again in public.

As a teenager, I made a fantasy that I was brave for I could not feel pain.

This was proved as men treated my body as a dustbin. They would hurt me in all parts of my body, and I felt nothing. If I did feel pain – I know to smile. I know I had to pleased the men to stay alive.

I never thought why I felt so little. Why I made everything into films.

I never thought I was in a constant state of fear.

I had closed from seeing that I had reach a bottom.

Now, I can see that time. I do not think “brave” is the right word for who I was then.

Courage is nearer, not right, but nearer. For me “courage” is a more emotional word.

It expresses a situation where there seemed to no exit except imagination and the will not to be destroyed.

It takes courage to know to be passive and silent, when so much wants to fight back, When I was abused by men, if I had been brave and fought, I think I would of been killed.

Instead, I went into myself, and place my hate and anger in my heart. For, I know if I got away from the life I was living, one day I would say who those men really were.

Courage is prepared to be patience. Courage believes that there is life outside male violence.

Now, I can speak out, I feel so proud that child and young woman lived.

As I say their truths, I will not turn away when it is hard. For, if they had the courage to believe there could be a future. Then I must have the courage to lie bare their realities.

8 responses to “On Being Brave

  1. Your strategy Rebecca of not crying or showing any emotion or pain was a coping strategy or rather a survival one. It was the only way you knew of coping with situations wherein you had no power or control over your life. Instead you were totally at the mercy of callous, sadistic, inhuman men. Now comes the hard part, dealing with the feelings which were rightly buried in order that you could survive. So, perhaps ‘brave’ can be applied to you now because you are showing great bravery and courage in looking at how you coped when you were younger. It is very painful I know looking into the past and seeing the little girl whom no one saw but now you see her and now, you can re-connect to her and tell her she is not alone.


  2. Thanks Jennifer for your very thoughtful comment.
    I feel I am seeing my teenager and young woman now. I am seeing the time when I lived sadistic violence as a prostitute. Although, I occasionally think of my childhood, I feel that I have come to terms with that part of my life.
    Most of my trauma comes from the years as a prostituted girl/woman. That was the time that I survived by deadening my emotions and refusing to see myself.
    I choose to write so that I can show in plain words the conditions that can drive a woman to have to lose herself in order to live.


  3. I can understand what you mean about ‘brave’ not being the right word. Somehow it implies that you were showing bravery by choosing to be in a certain situation. At that time you were strong to survive.
    I agree with Jennifer – your bravery is coming now, since it is painful to deal with the past, and easier to keep it buried. But we can’t keep it buried.
    I’m learning so much from your writing – about you, and about myself.
    Thank you for finding it in you to be so frank and honest and open. You are doing a great thing.


  4. Thank-you Ruth and Maia.
    It gives me great strength to have your support. I suppose that I am brave to write as I do. It is that I feel I have little choice but to say my reality. I find as you say that I cannot buried it again. Although it is painful writing, and I far more ill when I don’t.
    Also, I want to show the reality in the hope it can be part of a change that will make male violence less.


  5. I felt very touched by your writing and reading your responses to what other’s thought and wrote. I find the links you are making by stepping back and looking at the Then and the Now very helpful and they make so much sense to me, when you put it the way you do.
    It might feel weird when I say that I enjoy your writing, but what I mean is that your writing is affecting me in a great way because I stop and think. Thank you.


  6. Therse – Thanks so much for very kind and touching responses to my blog. It does mean an awful lot to me. I am very flattered and honoured that my writing is affecting you.
    I learnt to write as I do by reading an amazing Canadian book – “My Father’s House: A Memoir of Incest and of Healing” by Sylvia Fraser. She does not write “misery memoir” – rather she treats her fragmented memories by writing as if it a detective story. She write with a forensic detachment – which heightened how the destruction of her sense of self was done by abuse. She write in the moment of the past, and with the hindsight of becoming a survivor.
    I try to write like that. I have found for the only I can deal with pain of fragmented memory is face it head-on. I write to see, feel and know who I was then, and how it made who I am now.


  7. You are speaking not for the women and girls who have been prostituted, but for any woman/child who has been sexually abused. Your words resonate with me and I am grateful to have found them today. Sending Blessings!


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