Uncontained pairs poetry and prose pieces about sexual assault experiences with a sculptural representation and the author’s anonymous bio. It allows these stories to be part of anyone’s identity—your boss, your roommate, the un/familiar faces walking down the street. We are defined by more than just one negative encounter, yet those parts of a victim’s life can hold a heavy weight on their soul. Culturally, these are not the stories that get shared at the dinner table, instead they get locked away to seldom again resurface. Uncontained empowers individuals to no longer be afraid sharing these experiences and release them from their shackles. It also emphasizes the unknown, showing that anyone could be undergoing elements of this journey.

 

Uncontained

It wasn’t me, it was my friend: Whisky in the hand, one too many

It wasn’t me, it was my friend: Faces blurred in the aisles, lights flashing, windows passing

It wasn’t me, it was my friend: Pushing off the stop sign colored lips that said go

It wasn’t me, it was my friend: Who couldn’t find the voice to muster a no

It wasn’t me, it was my friend: Tight pants and high-heeled boots that were only asking to be worn

It wasn’t me, it was my friend: Lost cries in the evening, fear in the morning

It wasn’t me, it was my friend: Anxiety dripping through a pearly smile

It wasn’t me, it was my friend: Exhausted from sleepless nights, flashbacks of yesterday’s nightmares

It wasn’t me, it was my friend

It wasn’t me, it was my friend

It wasn’t me, but it could have been

It wasn’t me, but it should have been

It was my friend

So it could have been me

Sculptures

1.

This woman is an actress  This woman is a sister and daughter  This woman is a friend

This woman is an actress

This woman is a sister and daughter

This woman is a friend

Fool for Fetish

I thought you were asking for directions

Well, you did ask me for directions

And I gave you directions as I always did: hesitant sounding, but 92% sure that I was right

I just wanted to be friendly

But then you're asking about me

And I've never been good at knowing when enough is enough

You weren't my type

It didn't seem flirtatious

But London was a lonely city

And I collected moments with strangers

Hoping in vain for them to feel like midnight jaunts with the best of my friends

Looking for magic in an unfamiliar place

This here was black magic

Shrouded in normalcy

And that disturbed me more than I could say

 

"You have a beautiful face"

"Oh...thank you"

"Will you let me cum in your face?"

 

I've heard pick-up lines

Those movie quips and verbal dips into a corny cheesy version of your life as it stands now

But this was no set up for a belle of the ball, or a rom com heroine from your guilty pleasure special

I was wearing sweatpants for god's sake

My face was as bare as my sexual experiences up to that point

But why did that even cross my mind?

 

You looked at me with the same face

That I now noticed had a peculiar vacancy

From an outside perspective

We could have been talking about anything

I lied about some boyfriend

Because obviously, the only way you could justify me not wanting cum in my face was the presence of another man

And no--I did not let him cum in my face

"So...you're just not into that sort of thing."

"No"

 

The last thing I said to him was "Have a great night"

Programmed politeness was the only thing I could comprehend in this reality disc skip

Two blocks from my place

We parted just as unceremoniously as we had met

No receipt from this failed transaction

I wish I spat in his face

Like he wanted to spit in mine

But then again

It wouldn't change the fact that he was scum

I wondered how many people he's asked this to, point blank

I wondered if anyone said yes

I wondered

 

2. 

I am an activist and visual artist based in Pittsburgh, PA. I spend most of my time behind a camera or a book, and will gladly give you the best tips on how to ruin Thanksgiving dinner. My favorite color is turquoise, and I never wear gold jewelry. My gender identity is more confusing than theoretical physics, but I'm also not a physicist, so you may want to run that by someone who is. I'm a survivor, but I'm also so much more.

I am an activist and visual artist based in Pittsburgh, PA. I spend most of my time behind a camera or a book, and will gladly give you the best tips on how to ruin Thanksgiving dinner. My favorite color is turquoise, and I never wear gold jewelry. My gender identity is more confusing than theoretical physics, but I'm also not a physicist, so you may want to run that by someone who is. I'm a survivor, but I'm also so much more.

What does the 17 year old know of consent?

What do “yes” and “no” mean to her, and

What do they mean to her 20-­year-­old boyfriend?

There was no way to understand what he was

Doing.

You can't condemn the action you never Realized was happening.

Even when you learn what

Sexual assault looks like,

When you find out about its

Many faces,

You don't always think to apply it inwards.

You try not to think about saying

Yes

Because you were afraid to say

No.

You never even wanted to date him

You wanted to fuck him,

Once.

Then once turned into months.

Safe spaces quickly turned into sacrifices,

Made for an Abrahamic god.

The one you had lost two years prior.

And four years later the reality of the situation, the

Gravity of his actions came to you

Moments before a climax.

That bed became a monument to destroying what was

And building what would be.

Hunted became hunting became hungry for forward momentum

And the reclamation of trees.

 

3.

i walk on water. i take in the earth. i breathe fire. i thrive in good air. this isn’t a riddle, i am just a being.

i walk on water. i take in the earth. i breathe fire. i thrive in good air. this isn’t a riddle, i am just a being.

it’s not that I’m incapable of trusting again

it’s not that she isn’t a love or my friend

it’s not that I feel like she never cared

it’s not that I’m broken or needing repair

 

and it’s certainly not that I wanted to pursue vengeance

it’s that people don’t want to hear me

it’s that they’ll patronize without listening

that’s what hurts the most

 

4.

I love thin crust pizza and soda from a glass bottle. I want to travel with my family when I get older. I want to have a family of my own when I’m older. I love watching live performances and sports games. I'm getting my ass kicked by the intensity of my job but I'm loving every minute of it. I’m learning so much every day. Every day is a blessing. Everyone in my life is a blessing. I love my friends and family, there is no difference between the two. I get scared a lot. I am afraid of spiders and of being obsolete. I have a boyfriend who is incredibly understanding and we make funny faces at each other which is my favorite part. Ice cream from Dave and Andy’s is my favorite summer time treat. When I was in grade school, I was bullied. I’ve had issues with my self-image since those days, but am finally growing into my own skin; therapy helped with that. I was raised Catholic, but believe in a God who knows more about love then what organized religion can preach. I didn’t start masturbating until my senior year of high school and can’t get off without a vibrator. I prefer to have sex with the lights dimmed low enough to see the contours of my partner’s body. And I like it when they bite me softly. I enjoy painting with watercolors and reading historical & religious fiction, and fantasy books in the evening with a warm cup of tea. I had a 3.7 gpa in high school and a 3.5 gpa in college. I’m growing older, but I’m not sure if I’m growing up yet.

I love thin crust pizza and soda from a glass bottle. I want to travel with my family when I get older. I want to have a family of my own when I’m older. I love watching live performances and sports games. I'm getting my ass kicked by the intensity of my job but I'm loving every minute of it. I’m learning so much every day. Every day is a blessing. Everyone in my life is a blessing. I love my friends and family, there is no difference between the two. I get scared a lot. I am afraid of spiders and of being obsolete. I have a boyfriend who is incredibly understanding and we make funny faces at each other which is my favorite part. Ice cream from Dave and Andy’s is my favorite summer time treat. When I was in grade school, I was bullied. I’ve had issues with my self-image since those days, but am finally growing into my own skin; therapy helped with that. I was raised Catholic, but believe in a God who knows more about love then what organized religion can preach. I didn’t start masturbating until my senior year of high school and can’t get off without a vibrator. I prefer to have sex with the lights dimmed low enough to see the contours of my partner’s body. And I like it when they bite me softly. I enjoy painting with watercolors and reading historical & religious fiction, and fantasy books in the evening with a warm cup of tea. I had a 3.7 gpa in high school and a 3.5 gpa in college. I’m growing older, but I’m not sure if I’m growing up yet.

Another day forgotten by the boy who was supposed to roll over and wish for this day to be happy. The boy who promised he would do everything he could to make it that way. The boy who promised to be different from the past. 

 

But now that's all you are. The past. A distant haunting shadow that stalks my dreams and turns them into nightmares. My stomach aches from all the lies I was force fed. I wish I was bulimic so I could wash them out of my system. 

 

But instead I just stopped eating.

 

I was too full from how empty you left me. 

 

 

I felt too broken to be patched up. I felt too alone to remember the names of the friends I left for you. I felt too uncomfortable to remember how bodies are supposed to be loved. I felt too betrayed to admit to myself what you had done. 

 

 

It was a gift after all. It was a gift. It was what I wanted. It was the recognition that I deserved. And you made sure I knew that it was a gift. 

 

I said I'd try it once. That was ok. The next time I didn't want to though. It didn't feel right and it hurt and I was meek and uncomfortable and vulnerable and I told you all of that. But you liked the way it looked and how BEAUTIFUL it made me.  So your multiple offers washed away my abject refusals like the water from the shower washed away your sweat after our encounters as I trembled, knowing there were things that were stained too deep to get washed down the drain. But you would just ask if I was too cold.

I was stained by your dominance all over my back and my arse. I was stained by my feeling of self-consciousness and uselessness and my fears of abandonment, and being obsolete. I was stained by the shame I held for not standing up to you.

 

Maybe I just wasn't used to it. That's what you said when I relayed how uncomfortable I was, and how you loved it so much. You made sure I knew that.

I wanted to be loved so much and you knew that too.

And it was a gift…so I felt obliged in spite of my body's abject refusal. And the pain before during and after. And the tears stained on my pillow that you never saw because it would have been too much for you to have ever looked at my face. 

 

So it's ok. It's ok that you took it out that one night and I couldn't tell because my eyes were buried in the red satin sheets. It’s was ok when you took it out since I was almost numb to it. Almost. This new object, your object, was larger and more painful and I rejected it with all my might. But you wouldn't take no for an answer when I said it, so why would you listen to my body. You pressed on and found the next best spot to hold yourself as you finished. 

 

But it was ok because the shower would wash it away. And it was ok because I was too scared to speak up. And it was ok because all my other pleas were silenced. Like how I wished we would use condoms because the pill was not mixing well with my brain. But they never felt good for you, so we couldn't. That wouldn’t be ok, if you couldn't get pleasure out of what you did to my body. 

 

And I was too scared to go to the doctors or tell a friend or tell myself what you did was wrong. I didn't know what to do; there was no plan B. So I just prayed when my period came late. I prayed that it would come. And one night, unannounced, just like you, it eventually did. But my body was angry with me, it knew the toxicity of the situation before is did. So I ignored it. Because in my shrouded ignorance everything was still ok. I wanted to stop it all, but I couldn't. I couldn't find the words anymore because you never listened. 

 

But it's ok.

 

It's ok, because you said it was.

 

It's ok, because when I told you what you did, you denied it.

 

It's ok, because I was crazy.

 

It's ok, because I stalked you when we walked home in the same direction or when I showed up to my classes or extra-curriculars that you were also in.

 

It's ok because when I was having night terrors and panic attacks I could come to you, and only you, since you were my best friend and you urged me to tell you.

 

It's ok because you had all the Power and I had none.

 

It's ok because when I re-told you what happened and you once again denied it, and you touched me again to lift up my chin and stared inside of the hollow body you left, and you stared at my eyes now quivering and drained of all composure that I promised myself I would keep around you... and you told me I was BEAUTIFUL.

 

That’s what made it all ok.

 

It wiped the slate clean and it made it all ok...right?

 

Right?

 

Right?

 

RIGHT?

 

Maybe you have been right, maybe I am crazy

 

 

 

No?

 

 

 

No

No no no no no no no no nonoonononnononononononononnonononnonononononnonononononnonooooooooo

 

NO!

 

IM DROWNING IM CRASHING IM CRAZY IM WITHERING IM HURT IM SCARED IM ANXIOUS IM FORCED TO SEE YOU EVERY WEEK IM SO UNCOMFORTABLE AND IM SO SCARED. But I'm BEAUTIFUL.

 

B

 

E

 

A

 

U

 

T

 

I

 

F

 

U

 

L

 

smack. 

 

...shouldn't I have capitalized that word? Shouldn't that have been the apex? That smack. That crash. That tumbling down. That bruise. That attempt...

 

I think it was just a wake-up call.

It was the real gift.

It was my escape.

 

I got out. I found my friends. I found myself. I found that I am more than one fearful moment. I found that I am beautiful. But I will remember what you did Mr. I have all the Power and I won't be silenced anymore. I will not bury what you did to me in the dirt. And let the weeds take over.

 

I am cracked, but unbreakable.

 

I am a sunflower, and I will stand tall.

 

5.

I do not know what love is supposed to be.     My name is _____. I am 22. Female.  I am 5’8, 140 pounds, dirty blonde/brown hair.  Blue Eyes.  I love to sing, mostly in the shower.  My favorite band is The Beatles, my favorite color  is orange, and my favorite food is pickles. I love my  big family, I love all my friends, I love my best of all friend.  I am a graphic designer by trade, and an artist by nature.     I like to laugh, a lot. I read. I draw. I listen.     I’m intense, so I’m told. I can feel my body getting hot,  and heavy, and weak when I love or cry or fall apart.  I wish I could turn it off; I wish I could show you.     I’ve always been looking for a person to love, to love me.  I’m learning to be that person for myself.     I’m growing up but I’m not a grown-up. I’m learning  still, every day. I’m scared, I’m young, I’m trying to get there.     My name is ____. I do not know what love is supposed to be.

I do not know what love is supposed to be.

 

My name is _____. I am 22. Female.

I am 5’8, 140 pounds, dirty blonde/brown hair.

Blue Eyes.  I love to sing, mostly in the shower.

My favorite band is The Beatles, my favorite color

is orange, and my favorite food is pickles. I love my

big family, I love all my friends, I love my best of all friend.

I am a graphic designer by trade, and an artist by nature.

 

I like to laugh, a lot. I read. I draw. I listen.

 

I’m intense, so I’m told. I can feel my body getting hot,

and heavy, and weak when I love or cry or fall apart.

I wish I could turn it off; I wish I could show you.

 

I’ve always been looking for a person to love, to love me.

I’m learning to be that person for myself.

 

I’m growing up but I’m not a grown-up. I’m learning

still, every day. I’m scared, I’m young, I’m trying to get there.

 

My name is ____. I do not know what love is supposed to be.

Studio Apartment

 

I am a fixture

A beautiful fixture

Small

Between you and the wall

 

Tired and bleak

My shoulders curl next to your spine

You have lost your temptation

Fallen away with your pride

 

My dear

There is no more fire

Sick and cold

Your lips are useless

Your hands feel clumsy

 

Forgive me

I am broken

My heart is hollow like your ankles

 

Not good enough

 

...

 

Strip me

Like you do when I feel so sad

Guilty and soft

Hung up against the fridge

Waiting to collapse

 

You lay on your back

And

Sleep

 

Hold me

Just for a moment

To know that my body has meant something

My eyes fill and bleed

Ribcage full of mud

To feed my wilting flowers

 

Darling

Write me more letters about my perfection

Build me steps so that I can be chained to them

Clinging to stone

Afraid of the Earth

 

6.

I am male. I am 6’3”. I am 200lbs. I am a singer, and an actor. I enjoy theatre, old books, and cooking. My favorite color is orange. My favorite book is Of Mice and Men. My family is and has always been, a rock. They refused to let their deadbeat son throw his life away. I owe them everything. A year ago I let down a lot of people very close to me, but I spend every day trying to fix what I broke. I dream of a day when I can see them all again and look them in the eye like I used to. What defines me is the transgressions I have made against myself and those I care about, not what other people have done to me. What defines me is how I will do right by the people I have hurt, and the lies that I have told. Forgiveness is what motivates me.

I am male. I am 6’3”. I am 200lbs. I am a singer, and an actor. I enjoy theatre, old books, and cooking. My favorite color is orange. My favorite book is Of Mice and Men. My family is and has always been, a rock. They refused to let their deadbeat son throw his life away. I owe them everything. A year ago I let down a lot of people very close to me, but I spend every day trying to fix what I broke. I dream of a day when I can see them all again and look them in the eye like I used to. What defines me is the transgressions I have made against myself and those I care about, not what other people have done to me. What defines me is how I will do right by the people I have hurt, and the lies that I have told. Forgiveness is what motivates me.

I am male. I am 6’3”. I am 200lbs. Like many people in their early 20’s, I frequent bars. That is to say I used to. A friend and I met regularly at one of our favorite bars, usually once a week, to spend our parents’ money on cheap pitchers. This was a particularly low point in my life, one I am still recovering from, but sexual assault was not an aspect of my mental state yet. It was a pretty typical story, a man and a woman meet at a bar. They both are fairly buzzed. They make out at the bar. I can’t remember her name, and I’m sure she couldn’t remember mine. She was older than me, I remember that. She pulled me out of the bar into the alley. It was freezing, early February. We continue making out, but she tells me to stop touching her. I put my hands down, but she puts them behind my back. She tells me not to touch her with my hands again. She tells me if I do, she’ll run into the bar and yell that I tried to rape her.

I am male. I am 6’3”. I am 200lbs. I think I would go to jail. She kisses me roughly, but not painfully. She unzips my pants but my hands stay behind my back. She gropes my penis, demands that I get hard. I can’t. Perhaps I’m too drunk. Perhaps I’m too cold. Perhaps I’m too scared. She growls in my ear for me to get hard. I cannot. She kisses my neck roughly. She bites at my neck, then makes a hickey. Then another one. Then another one. My hands are behind my back. She tells me she wants everyone to know what we did, and she is marking me with proof. My neck is in pain, but the kind of pain I should want. I tell myself that I want this. After several bites, she makes one more attempt at my crotch. She pushes away. “We’re done.” She disappears. I run back into the bar, but my friend is not there. I catch up to him, spent the night on his couch.

I am male. I am 6’3”. I am 200lbs. I tell my friend what happened. He says he would never have believed her, neither would have anyone at the bar. I have a hard time believing that. I’m not sure if it’s stupid for me to think that or if I’m sexist for assuming I wouldn’t have been believed. The next day I wore a turtleneck so no one would notice, but a few people did. One friend asked me about them, and I said I burned myself with a friend’s curling iron. He believed me until he noticed the other marks. I pretended to be proud of the marks. I’m still not sure if I should have been.

 

7.

I was born in Hong Kong, China. I moved to the United States when I was about 2 years old. I am also bilingual, I speak both English and my native language, Cantonese. I am currently planning on attending to Chatham University. I will be studying under the Business major content. I love to take pictures especially around the Pittsburgh area. I enjoy taking walks down on the nature trails in early summers. Though, I do prefer the autumn colorful trees and cinnamon scent breeze over anything. I love to drink tea on cold nights and eat mint chocolate ice cream on warm days. My all-time favorite movie is "Spirited away" by Hayao Miyazaki. Sometimes I love to sit back and relax while reading Calvin and Hobbes series. I fantasized of traveling around the world when I am older, one of the places I want to visit the most is Australia. Best of all, I love to smile and be an optimistic person. I hope to be able to help others in ways that I can and make this environment a better place to live.

I was born in Hong Kong, China. I moved to the United States when I was about 2 years old. I am also bilingual, I speak both English and my native language, Cantonese. I am currently planning on attending to Chatham University. I will be studying under the Business major content. I love to take pictures especially around the Pittsburgh area. I enjoy taking walks down on the nature trails in early summers. Though, I do prefer the autumn colorful trees and cinnamon scent breeze over anything. I love to drink tea on cold nights and eat mint chocolate ice cream on warm days. My all-time favorite movie is "Spirited away" by Hayao Miyazaki. Sometimes I love to sit back and relax while reading Calvin and Hobbes series. I fantasized of traveling around the world when I am older, one of the places I want to visit the most is Australia. Best of all, I love to smile and be an optimistic person. I hope to be able to help others in ways that I can and make this environment a better place to live.

The Monster that Lived beneath my Bed

A couple months ago, I found a Monster that lived beneath my bed. Its leathered skin and padded shoulders were all that I could see. Although it was intangible and invisible to everyone I have known, it is quite vivid and clear through the kaleidoscopes of my eyes. I’d realize the Monster followed me to where ever I went—to where I had an evening lunch or that small unusual spot behind the bookshelves at the library. It lurked around the corners where I haven’t notice before. Sometimes the Monster wakes me up when I’m asleep. Somehow it seeps its way into my dreams and intensifies my nightmares. And when I’m not expecting it, the Monster screams into my ears for the times I have been alone. While the Monster doesn’t peep a word, it maneuvers its way to get his message across.

There were abrupt moments when the Monster wanted to physically harm me. He would apply pressure to the air pipes of my lungs, burning the fragile skin of my heart, and raised the goosebumps on my arms, bringing down a rainfall of shivers down my spine, blinding me with its darkness. Sometimes the Monster climbs on my back and weighs my weakened shoulders down. It distracts me from my daily work and steals me from my reality.  And I am still afraid, I am afraid of the unpredictable moves the Monster makes. The Monster leaves a nasty residue behind and causing me to feel uncomfortable and disturbed.

This creature denies to feel a drop of sympathy. And yet, it continues to lurk around and follow me. It refuses to leave me alone. I tried to run, I tried to hide, and I tried to tie up the Monster. But none of these answers seemed possible. The Monster laughs and snickers at my attempt of success. And yet, I begged, and begged again. I beg for it to release me from the locked chains around my wrists and ankles. I beg for it to pack its bag and disappear. I beg for it to stop my pain.  But my words are nonsense, they were just insignificant unsatisfaction. And it seems to me there was only one way out.

When I told the humans I have seen something I shouldn’t, when I told them I saw a Monster, when I told them I was physically in danger. The humans laughed at my face, others looked at me in confusion. They asked “What Monster?” And I responded to them, “The one that lurks behind the shadows.” They told me I was foolish, and it was a sad complaint. They told me it wasn’t a big deal, and believed it was something I exaggerated. They told me to forget, to let it go, and it probably meant no harm. It was disgusting to see the people who hadn’t taken me serious, and a wave of disappointment followed right after.

 

8.

I'm a 23 year old woman with an eclectic mix of interests. I teach elementary school and special education. I'm a musician who keeps picking up instruments; the violin is my most recent ambition. I enjoy being part of and watching musical theater. When alone in my apartment, I can be found wildly singing Broadway tunes from old shows. I have written a cookbook for children as my Master's thesis. I have loved cooking since I could climb a stool to my kitchen counter. My goals in life are to save all the animals, help all children, and acquire world peace. Big goals. I'll start with finding the meaning of life. In all seriousness, though, I spend my days overcoming the anxiety and diagnosed PTSD of having been harassed on the streets of New York through breathing exercises and sheer willpower.

I'm a 23 year old woman with an eclectic mix of interests. I teach elementary school and special education. I'm a musician who keeps picking up instruments; the violin is my most recent ambition. I enjoy being part of and watching musical theater. When alone in my apartment, I can be found wildly singing Broadway tunes from old shows. I have written a cookbook for children as my Master's thesis. I have loved cooking since I could climb a stool to my kitchen counter. My goals in life are to save all the animals, help all children, and acquire world peace. Big goals. I'll start with finding the meaning of life. In all seriousness, though, I spend my days overcoming the anxiety and diagnosed PTSD of having been harassed on the streets of New York through breathing exercises and sheer willpower.

On a day this past August, in broad daylight and in a populated area, I went for my first run in over a year. I felt pretty safe and I didn't have a pouch for a phone, so I left with just my keys. After all, I was only going to run 10 blocks near my apartment, which is also near a hospital. I ran along the East River and a man was walking leisurely in the opposite direction. As I passed, he veered into my path and ran his whole hand across one side of my butt. He didn't look at me. He didn't say anything. He just made the conscious decision to violate another human being's boundaries. My first reaction was to turn and scream, "Hey," at him. He didn't even react. Not a word. Not a look back. This man thought it was so completely okay that he didn't even turn to make sure I wasn't going after him. He just calmly and slowly kept walking at the same pace. This is not okay. No one has the right to put their hands on a stranger’s body and not fear repercussions. So I hope he is scared. Because I called the police, and showed them the camera they have mounted right there. I hoped we would catch him. (We didn't.) Despite that, I'm glad I didn't do nothing, like I usually do in these instances. I finally took a stand.

Luckily for me, there were some good guys out there, one of whom let me call 911 on his phone and told me it wasn't my fault, while the other who ran after the guy to take a picture. There are good people out there. Be one of them. Thank you good Samaritans.