The poster reads: “I care about you.”
It was after I suggested very matter-of-factly that he only wanted to have sex. He got on top of me, retorted that he cared about me. I told him to stop. He said it over and over again throughout the whole thing, as if to literally beat it into me. And even though I know he didn’t mean it when he said it, those words remain inextricably tied to that moment so that whenever they’re spoken, regardless of the speaker or scenario, they remain within that context. It’s a phrase now that always feels unbelievable and slightly antagonistic when I hear it. I’ve carried it as a dark and cynical lesson to never believe it from anyone. I hope that by taking those words outside of myself I can let them and the meaning they’ve carried go. And maybe when I do hear those words again it will be without his voice or his meaning attached to them, and they can finally mean something else.
Photographed in New York City on June 8th.
People who knew of my rape saw me as a beacon of strength and I was met with friends who would encounter an assault and react as I wish I did when he pinned me down. They would gleefully tell me, “What would Berna do?” as they fought back and sought help from their community.
I falsify my bravery and even three years later, these words still resonate. Like this woman, I hope that I can shake off these invisible wounds and allow new and real meaning to such an expression.