My Body

Anon: "It's only now that i've started taking control of my body and seeing it as MY body, that actually ya know what? I can and will have a say in how it's treated.

"I do own it, it is mine. For so, so, so long it didn't feel like mine, it didn't feel like home but just a sack of body parts for people to sift through. 

"Some guys have called me weird or difficult because I can be very particular about how i have sex or how I like to be touched. I don't talk about my past, I don't share my history because the abuse is a part of me. Not telling gives me a sense of control, power even."

Claudia: "I cut myself. It's how I tell the world what happened to me without saying anything.

"I tried to tell my aunty what happened to me when it was happening and she didn't believe me. It would break my family to tell them what a guy they love so much did to me. I use a razor on myself because that is my way of saying what happened to me without the words. 

"When summer approaches people can see the scars. I want them to see what my body is telling them. It's a silent scream to them."

R: "I felt so powerless that I have spent seven years trying to starve myself.

"I have an eating disorder but I don't want to be labelled by anybody. Being thin gives me control, I stopped feeling powerless. When I had a memory I used to eat so much i couldn't stop eating. To be in control I stopped eating completely. 
"I now do not eat and I can't tell my doctors why because they would not understand what happened to me and would tell my parents. 
"This is my first step because I am anonymous. I don't have any problem with sex because I can't think about it after what happened. I can't tell my doctors and I hope you understand."

Pat: "I am happier being overweight because I feel safer." (story shared via website's contact form)

"The pressure of staying thing makes everything worse. I ate a lot after I was raped by my boyfriend. He raped me after six years and it was brutal. I ate to make my body big and protect myself. 
"I have not had sex since because I do not want to be attractive to anybody. My doctor says I have to lose weight for health purposes, but I am happier being overweight because I feel safer. No man comes near me when I look like this. I don't want the rapist to ruin my health so I will be starting on a diet and exercise plan. 
"My body can save me too, I need to save it first. I don't want sex anymore. I'm ok with that, but there is a big pressure where I live. They make me feel like I've got to have sex. It's my body, I will do what I want with it. Thank you for your project, it makes me feel powerful."
(post has been edited to adjust grammar)

Sharon: "Now I'm in my forties. My vagina feels like a war zone. I say that because everything has been taken. 

"It's after everything has been taken. But it's like a war zone. Maybe that's a bit much, calling my fanny a war zone. I don't know why that came into my head. 

"I always had infections [as a child] because of what was going on. I thought it was normal for it to be sore or itchy. My mother put lotions on it but she was none the wiser. It was the Seventies, no one talked about it, even if it was going on right under her nose. I got married quickly because I wanted to get away [from my rapist], and he was just as bad. My kids are what kept me going, they are the little miracles that came out of that marriage. [My vagina] has been through a fair bit. I'll give it a rest now. I'll give it a breather, a bit of space, Lord knows it could do with it. Anyone would think I was round the twist laughing about it, but there you go, I'm laughing about it."

Terri: "No one tells you how to reclaim your body again. 

"Especially, a female body and on your own terms. Having a woman's body means there's a sexual price tag on us from when we start to develop. But I've already had that put on me. So, no more. 

"But how can I be a woman in today's society, and admit I'm traumatised by the consequences of the so-called sexual price tag on my body? If I reject [the idea that] my body isn't there as a sexual thing, then that's hard enough for most women. But to say I'm so traumatised by the sexual price tag on my body, it's ruined me, that's hard to say. It's very hard to say when your surrounded by a media that makes it glamorous to be worth your sexuality, and only that."  

Claudia: "I thought I was horrifically ugly because during the attack they were making comments about my appearance. 

"I had a mirror opposite my bed, and I would lie awake at night and stare at myself. I still do it now, sometimes. I imagine my body as that of another woman, because it helps me see I'm not ugly. For a few seconds I'll see myself as a stranger, and I'm not horrific. But then I'll remember it's me again, and all the ugliness is back. I know it's not my body's fault, it's how they made me think of it. 

"There are some bits I hate more than others. I hate my breasts because of what was said during the rape. I am thinking about having a breast reduction. I want to anyway, for health reasons. But part of what happened plays into that decision. I want there to be less of them. But I have to get used to them being there. I want to find a way to do that."

Miryla: "I don't touch [my vagina]. 

"I've got a wall up. I am badly triggered. That's all I want to say about it. I don't touch it, I don't think about it. I've shut it off, but that's what I want to do."

Aoife: "He liked my hair so I dyed it very dark brown, nearly black as soon as I was old enough. 

"At family gatherings he would run his fingers through it. No body knew why, they didn't know why. It would make me freeze because of what he was doing to me when no one was there. He knew why he was doing it, he knew I was scared of him, that's why he did it. It was like saying 'I can bully you, even when everyone's here and you can't tell anyone." 

"Everyone thought I'd become a goth when I dyed it. A lot of people asked me why I didn't keep my blonde hair, well it was strawberry blonde rather than full on blonde, but why would I want to keep it? It's very dark now, I really like it that way."

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