A young woman sits in my office, her face bathed in tears, her story finally coming out in convulsing bursts, like a pipe that has long been out of use finally allowing water to flow again. She has been carrying the shame for so long, she can’t even form the words. She wishes she was someone else, anyone else, with a different story.
Sexual violence becomes shackles, ever so carefully hidden under layers of “I’m okay,” and “I’ll get through it.” It encircles stomachs, destroying appetites and causing eating disorders; it pounds against the quiet of the night, preventing sleep and causing depression; it chains a woman to her room, breaks down her relationships, turns up in bad grades, or overwork, or unexplained and sustained terrors.
“ ‘And God saw what God had made and it was very good.’ ”
She looks up at me, daring to believe for this one moment.
“Those words are about you.”
And one, two, three, four, more, so many more of us, begin to believe enough to rattle the chains, to pull on them with force, to remove them from each other and fling them far into the void, never to return.
We walk on the way, believing we are good and there will be resurrection.
“Survivors.” We become.
Cecilia González-Andrieu is professor of theology at Loyola Marymount University, member of the board of the Ignatian Solidarity Network, and author of Bridge to Wonder: Art as Gospel of Beauty.
La doctora Cecilia González-Andrieu es profesora de teología en Loyola Marymount University y es la autora del libro Bridge to Wonder: Art as a Gospel of Beauty.