In an excerpt from their developing series Like Drinking Unicorn Blood, Mica England writes, “You underestimated me. Not just my ability, but my hatred.”
One is constantly reminded of the complexity of survival and survivors alike. Not all survivors call themselves such. Not all survivors harbor hatred. Some open their palms to forgiveness; others stay; others continue to love. Some will remain angry for years and deservedly so. Some compartmentalize and move on, as with Siri Espy, who writes “But I’m a survivor, and life has gone on.”
Every year Persephone’s Daughters releases a new issue, I contemplate what to write for our opening letter. What can I say that hasn’t already been said in every word and stroke of paint, oil, or pencil in these pages? In these photographs, these collages? These pieces speak for themselves. In some, men come to terms with their experiences of sexual abuse, and adult children spill out anger towards their abusive mothers. In others, what was done has been placed in the past, where it belongs.
In the midst of trauma and on the other side, what often manifests is a kind of grief. Grief for the person one could have been, grief for the person you are now, grief for the inability to build a bridge between the two.
Standing in an auditorium earlier this year during what feels like a lifetime ago before the pandemic arrived in my state, Tarana Burke, the founder of the Me Too movement, spoke to an audience of dozens of survivors, myself among them. The hardest question she said she is ever asked - “How do I get back to the person I was?” Her answer: “You can’t. No one can. But you can get the story out of your body. And there is a difference between telling the story and getting it out of your body.”
Melanie Ward titles her prose piece “To Read When I Need Reassurance That it Was as Bad as I Remember.”
If nothing else, I hope this letter, and these words and these artworks, are a reassurance. It was as bad as you remember. You were hurt and you were harmed. You remember it well. It is your story. Your story happened, regardless of those who said it did not.
And one day, though it may not be easy, you will get it out of your body. Whether you then tell your story is up to you, but please be assured that someone wants to hear it. And maybe that person is you.
I close with the words of interviewee Lori Greene, artist for the first U.S.-based permanent memorial to sexual violence survivors: “I am creating objects that hold the memory of who I am.”
Welcome to Issue Seven.
Founder & Editor-in-Chief
Meggie Royer is a writer and photographer from the Midwest who is currently working in the domestic violence field in Minnesota with a focus on prevention, youth, and public health. Her poems have previously appeared in The Minnesota Review, Winter Tangerine Review, The Harpoon Review, and more. Many of her poems promote female empowerment through body positivity, courage, healing from assault, and familial love passed down through generations of women. In March 2013 she won a National Gold Medal for her poetry collection and a National Silver Medal for her writing portfolio in the 2013 National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Her work can be found at writingsforwinter.tumblr.com.