Carry your keys

If there’s a mini van parked next to the driver’s side of your car, crawl in through the passenger seat. There might be someone behind the dark glass waiting to open the door and snatch you.

When you’re walking through an unknown place, hold your keys in your fist with the point sticking out between your fingers. Unlike a knife or gun, your keys are less likely to be turned against you.

Always be aware of your surroundings. You never know who might be hiding in the forgotten alley. Be alert when you walk alone, make sure you pay attention.

My mom teaches me what all mothers must teach their daughters in this ongoing assault on our bodies.

When it happened to me, I checked a box in the list of experiences that make woman. It was just enough of a salty, noxious taste to let me relate to all those rape poems.

When it happened to me, it didn’t run at me from out of the dark, all muscle and grab. It came from the familiar. It came with an ask, but not the right ask. It came with other people in the room. After being trained to act like prey for wolves, I wasn’t ready for boa constrictor.

Sexual assault is four times more likely to give you a birthday present, discuss social justice, be invited into your home or even your bed, than it is to run at you from out of the dark. It’s easier to fear the monster under your bed than the one sitting on your living room couch.

We teach our children not to take candy from strangers, but at the same time teach them to ignore their own boundaries. “Don’t be shy sweetie, give Auntie a kiss. Give Daddy a smile. Say please, say please, please, please, thank you.” He gave me a ride home afterward.

If I have a daughter, I will teach her everything she needs to know in this ongoing assault on our freedom. Sweetheart, know that you are so much more than someone else’s prey. It’s not our job to be prepared, but I’m sorry I have to tell you that it is our necessity.

Make sure you carry your keys when you walk through unknown places. You will discover doors to new opportunities you will need to unlock.

Always be aware of your surroundings. You never know what sweet, ripe mysteries might be hiding in the forgotten spaces all around you.

When you climb into your car, remember you are the driver. You’ve got to know who you are and where you’re going.

Most importantly, know that there is nothing more sacred than your own blissful aspiration, so when someone else’s desire tries to consume you in unholy ways, let your own self love burn through

Rachel Greene, a member of the Old Growth Poetry Collective, has been published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Vanishing Point.

 

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