Killer silences

Killer silences

or trying to forget
yet the images bounce back
each time the word is seen, heard, read…….


living with the pictures
hidden, covered

pictures of him
pictures of disgust,
forcing himself between my legs
down my intimacy
without my consent
by applying his strength
the first day of our kiss
or after so many times
without romance
without foreplay
for his own orgasm
or when i am asleep
in the middle of the night
or when i am not awake yet……

extreme disrespect for my body
let alone for my mind

when the first feeling is shock
did it really happen?
a look at him
is it you you just did this to me?
i do not know you anymore
the words heard
you are an old woman
you do not want sex any longer

and the feeling of guilt that emerges

the sleepless rest of the night is not finished
and yet the guilt has started building up
like a fortress that will
keep the silence for too long

when the following day is wordless
or ‘normal’
when working hours fakely hide the reality


when coming back
to the place that should be a refuge
becomes a trip to a scary hell

and days and nights repeat themselves
amongst other abuses…

and an intimate life of guilt
behind the fortress of silence

when the guilt confines to the border of non worthiness
when the repetition converts a human being
into a nobody
a small wrinkled ball thrown to a corner
that no one can see
and that does not have enough air
to call for help.

how to send a SOS
when one is reduced to no one
by the recurring forced power
exerted to tame

when the mind becomes split from the body
when the body becomes object
and the mind this little wrinkled ball

tamed to guilt
who can see it
who can see me?
behind the mask
when the effort of a begging hand
becomes an exhaustion

breathing truces
when the conscience knows
they are all false promises

why to seek help then
when the ‘normal times’ come back
times when thinking straighter becomes possible
false hope it will never happen again
it will happen again
and again
the fortress and the ball

the wrench between
the tamed mind that think still
and the no one’s body

will any one see it?
if only someone could see it
i could start throwing a word that could lead
a listener to understand
the hell i live in…..

of course there is the law
but who would believe a married woman
accusing her husband of sexual assault
the effort of reporting to the police
seems an exhaustion too

the little mind ball wants to survive
and relating recent incidents
will collapse it
this is sure
it will become a mount of dust
disconnected pieces of nothingness

better to stay this little ball
and keep our killer silences…..

desperation for
something external to happen
the only possible salut

the salut comes from him
when the killer silences
end up frustrating him
and he leaves the house of hell……….
and i cry, cry, cry
my love has left me
was it really love?

sleepless nights
of a half empty bed
of a half empty self
tears filling the ocean of pains

hour after hour
day after day
week after week
the habit of the void builds up
a void that becomes softer
because of survival
i can live
i can live without him
i can move without him
i can breath without him
i can think without him
i can be without him
the healing hope
takes months of other efforts
to hook into the mind
till the postponed and postponed day
when the law learns about the ordeals
between the hiccups of the tears
and this day, i know i have won
this day i am freed

(Photo Credit:

How do you like your torture, fast or slow?

Saleyha Ahsan has been visiting Y, an Algerian who fled Algeria for the United Kingdom, seeking asylum. His story is being enacted in a video on the Guardian website. He can’t see it, because he’s “a threat to national security”, and so he can’t access a computer, much less the internet or a mobile phone. His crime? “Y was tortured in Algeria – the evidence is clear from the scars on the front and back of his head. His crime was to speak out against human rights abuses in the early 1990s. When it was clear that he had to leave he came to the UK, and with his powerful testimony he was given full rights to remain. Not a false passport or fake name in sight. Leaving saved his life. Not long after, he was issued with a death sentence in absentia in Algeria.” Wait. That can’t be right. His crime is that he `agreed’ to be tortured? Yes, that made him a threat. However one parses the niceties, Ahsan has watched “an isolated edgy young man turned old through the “slow torture” of these last eight years in the UK. Detained for a total of 57 months in prison – first for the ricin case, for which he was fully acquitted, then detained again based on…? Your guess is as good as mine. It’s called secret evidence and neither Y or his lawyers have any idea what it is.”

This practice of slow torture is particular to women and takes many forms.

In the UK, according to the most recent Prison Reform Trust Fact Files, “The number of women in prison has increased by 60% over the past decade, compared to 28% for men. On 12 June 2009 the women’s prison population stood at 4,269. In 1997 the mid-year female prison population was 2,672. In 2007, 11,847 women were received into prison.” Twelve years of step-by-step, rung-by-rung escalating incarceration of women. Twelve years of silence. Slow torture.

Nadera Shalhoub Kevorkian has been thinking and writing about the slow torture of Palestinian women. Palestinian women have been placed in a condition of betweeness: “we as women are in a state of betweeness, we are kind of border patrolling everything, we are border patrolling the border between the outside and the inside, the private and the public – our bodies, our lives, our future are all in the state of betweeness….Look at the example of the checkpoints …; I was dropping my partner off at his clinic… they stopped us and they put the men on the right side and the women on the left side, and they told the men to raise their hands and body searched them, and we were on the other side, and this kind of not knowing, this uncertainty that we were all living at that moment, this geography of fear that they created in a very small space, our space as women, all of a sudden it became militarized and they kind of stole our space from us. We became exilic in our own space and the men became dehumanized and demonized in front of our very eyes….This militarization … ends up putting us, as women, as boundary markers, so we are the punching bag for the men outside and the punching bag for the men inside, and we want to move and change the situation, but we are in a state of ‘betweeness’.” The checkpoints are the fast and the quick of torture. The slow torture is the state of exile in one’s own home. How many decades of silence before a new language and a new home are fully established?

Slow torture is a product of a particular application of the rule of law to women and men deemed to be foreigners, and so [a] menace to society and [b] meant to be grateful for whatever juridical crumbs they can get.

In California, for example, activists have targeted undocumented residents and their U.S.-born children. They want to cut off public services to undocumented residents, to challenge the citizenship of any U.S. born citizens of undocumented residents, and set harsh new standards for birth certificates. Who’s targeted here? Women. Making pregnant women worry about what will happen, to them and their children, if they go to hospital in labor is that same as shackling women prisoners while in labor and childbirth. It’s criminal, and it happens all the time. It’s slow torture.

Veronica Lopez  is from Guatemala. She lives in California. She lived with a violent and abusive partner. She reported him. He was tried and deported to Guatemala. Lopez then spent nine months in immigration detention, terrified that she would be deported back to the reach of her abusive husband. Only at the eleventh hour, and then some, did the State come through and grant her a U-Visa, which is designed precisely for women in Lopez’s situation. Others have not been so lucky, and have been deported. The state of betweeness for women stretches across the world. The practice of slow torture haunts us.

(Photo Credit: Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice)