Trigger warning: Child sexual abuse, trafficking, rape, trauma, neglect, gender based violence.
I wrote this poem at 00:35 one night last week whilst thinking about the way children experiencing significant traumas and abuse are brought up side-by-side with children in safe, loving and healthy environments.
You know the kids I mean. The kids at your school who never arrived on time, sometimes didn’t turn up for weeks. Sometimes they were excluded from school and then spent their entire lives hanging around the estate and the school gates. Sometimes they were getting in cars at the end of school with people you didn’t know. They were the ones your parents didn’t want you to hang around with, the bad eggs, the trouble causers, the bad influences, the wastes of space, the never-amount-to-nuthins.
I wrote this to explore how it feels to be those children. And what it must feel like to look upon the lives of others with awe, powerful jealousy and a feeling that they would never understand the stuff they did – even if they tried to explain why they are the way they are.
Those loved kids had never seen the stuff they’d seen. Those protected kids had never felt what they’d felt.
A day in her life
I wake up. She wakes up.
I’m tired from drinking til 1am. She slept soundly from 9pm.
I find my screwed up uniform. Her mother brings her ironed uniform.
We’ve got no hot water. She has a hot shower.
I put on too much makeup. She splashes her fresh face.
I straighten my dyed hair. She plaits her healthy hair.
I refuse to eat any breakfast. She is served porridge and fruit.
I forget to make some lunch. She is handed her packed lunch.
I walk out of the door. She walks out of the door.
I walk down to the gulley. She walks down her block paved driveway.
I read the vile graffiti on the wall. She reads ‘Great Expectations’ in the car.
I get asked to get my tits out. She gets asked what lessons she has.
I meet my friends and crash a smoke. She meets her friends and share a joke.
I am taken behind an old shop. She is walking into the school gates.
I am held close by an older guy. She is holding her English books.
I am humiliated and objectified. She is supported and personified.
I am worrying if I’m pregnant. She is wondering if she got an ‘A’ again.
I am falling asleep in class. She is raising her hand when asked.
I am borrowing money for food. She is eating her packed lunch.
I am skipping lessons to get a drink. She is being challenged to think.
I am under the tree that no one knows. She is safely at school in full view.
I am climbing into a dirty bed. She is trying to keep the equation in her head.
I am feeling drunk and bare. She is tying her tie with care.
I am writhing in premature adulthood. She is planning her 14th birthday party.
I am screaming at this guy out here. She is giggling with some guy in there.
I am fighting for him to get off me now. She is twiddling her pencil and laughing now.
I am disoriented and alone. She is getting ready to head home.
I am running through the estate. She is meandering with her mates.
I am wishing I had my damn shoes on. She is watching someone in the distance.
I am coming up the estate hill. She is watching a running shoeless girl.
I am looking over my shoulder. She is distracted from her conversation.
I am pulling my shoes on as I cross over. She is wondering why the girl has no shoes on.
I am staring at some bitch who is staring at me. She is watching the shoe-girl intently
I am embarrassed and cold and need to get home. She is tempted to take pics of this on her phone.
I yell over ‘what the fuck you looking at?’
She mumbles ‘nothing, sorry’.
I feel my face flush red and my eyes well up.
She pipes up ‘but why weren’t you at school?’
I yell back ‘the fuck has it got to do with you?’
She snaps ‘you look a right mess!’
I yell through tears ‘you know nothing about me, I couldn’t care less!’
She gawps at the shoe-girl, the never at school-girl.
I am jealous of the perfect-girl, the mummy’s-whole-world-girl.
She wonders what went wrong for her, why she always cries rape.
I wonder how she got so lucky in a life I am constantly trying to escape.
She continues to walk along the street. I pick the stones out of my feet.
She tells her mum of what she saw. I creep in and carefully close the back door.
She is told ‘some girls are just trouble, dear’. I am told ‘that fucking car turned up here!’
She finishes her meal, then does her homework so she can finally chill.
I get another death threat whilst googling where to get the morning after pill.
This short story ‘A day in her life’ is not as far fetched as some might have us believe. Many children are living lives of horror, fear, abuse and violence, right alongside the children living lives of fun, learning and safety.
This blog may be reproduced and used in education and professional settings with the name of the blog and the name of the author.
If you do choose to reproduce, please reference:
Jessica Eaton – Victimfocus Blog, (2017)