Today we have two poems from Mike Chapman, a survivor of sexual abuse and trafficking as a child and of sexual assault by clergy as an adult. The poems are powerful and graphic and may be triggering for some. You are encouraged to use your own discretion before reading.
First, let me give you some background… When I was 30 (I am in my mid-50s now), I uncovered repressed memories of being sexually abused by my father at age 3. In 2019, I sought out additional therapy, including PTSD therapy. We ended up uncovering the fact that I was trafficked by my father to other men, and that the abuse did not actually begin at age 3 but started much earlier – when I was an infant, about 7 months old.
My therapist encouraged me to let those abused parts of me tell their story. Since the child at that age is pre-verbal, you can encourage them to tell their story in ways other than “speaking,” including just giving them a keyboard. He told me he has had patients grab their cell phone in his office and start frantically texting, telling their story. I did that at home, I reached out to both the infant me and the 3-year-old me – I gave them my computer keyboard and encouraged them to share. These 2 poems simply poured out – without any editing. (and no, I am not known for writing poetry.)
A Father's "Love" In my crib, soft and warm Asleep for the night Soft warm blanket protects me from cold My father enters the room I can smell his cologne Old Spice lingers in the room He removes the blanket He cradles me in his arms like so many times before warm, soft, safe, loving He places me on the cold floor. This is new Why am I here? What is this in my mouth? I can't breathe! So scared! What is happening? So much weight Unable to move Terror! Coughing up New smells, new tastes So frightened What happened? I cry. I am wiped down Placed back in my bed Covered in my blanket protects me no more I cry myself back to sleep Every night My father's "love"
Me at age 3 Heavy weight on me. Heard to breathe. Why is he doing this? I don’t understand. I am so scared. I don't want this. Betrayed! I thought he loved me. Why is he doing this to me. Why is he causing so much pain, I don’t understand it. The stuff I drank makes me feel weird, like I don’t really understand what is happening, but I still remember. I can still feel everything. Why does he keep doing this. Night after night, like the boogie man, but he is real. so much pressure on my head, rhythmic up and down against the mattress. Sometimes I hit my head on the headboard. It hurts. I like to leave toys on the floor. Maybe this will stop him, give me some warning. He gets mad. Swears. It doesn't stop him. I am powerless. I am so alone. If I had a little brother, I wouldn’t be alone. Maybe then it would stop. Maybe. I am so weak, he is so big. I can’t fight back. I have to give in. I hope it ends soon. Maybe he won't come back next time. Maybe. I can’t breathe. I have to try to breathe through my nose. So hard. I try to catch breaths when I can. He is done. I cough-up - hard. Slimy gross. The smell, the taste, he wipes me down. Removes the evidence. I cry myself back to sleep - Exhausted. But I can finally breathe.
Mike has traveled a long way on his healing journey from those days. He has experienced profound healing in his life. It is important as we share our stories to remember that healing is possible. We can move from surviving to thriving. You can move from surviving to thriving. If you find yourself triggered by these poems please reach out to someone you trust today. We are not intended to walk this journey alone.
Be well. Stay safe. Take good care.