*Dedicated to my abusive ex-boyfriends and others like them,
To those of us who, despite them, are still here, And those who, because of them, are not. When I was caught up in the hatred,
The vile, ugly madness, Sometimes I thought I’d die,
Wished I’d die, But somehow,
I’m still here. My mouth held shut, I swallowed your triumph,
But the ties have been cut. The lights are on, And my head is held high,
And I scream aloud – No longer in terror, But to remind and to warn you-
I’m still here. I tried to forget but could never forgive.
Every stranger had your face, Your twisted smile of conquest. I managed to blink my eyes hard enough
And you were gone. But I’m still here. Now I see through your charade of control.
Your face no longer masks your fear. Your force no longer hides your desperation.
Your power no longer disguises your impotence.
Your advantages have disappeared. And I’m still here. I used to struggle for answers,
Explanation, compensation. I tried to triumph Through drugs and starvation,
In beds of strangers, But no justice could prevail – Because the war was not mine to fight. After years of carrying Rage and pain and shame and fear
I return it all to you – the rightful bearer. You can try to forget it ever happened,
Ease your guilt, erase your evil. You can choose to live a lie, You loathsome, pitiful little man,
But I refuse. I know the truth and I’ve risen above it.
You tried to destroy me. You failed. I remember The punches and bruises, Scratches and scars, The crying and begging, Shouting and lying, The sweating and bleeding, The beating and raping.
FUCK YOU. I’M. STILL. HERE.
Tracy Grinstead-Everly (she/her/hers) is a social justice attorney and intersectional advocate who has dedicated over three decades to activism and community leadership, primarily in intimate partner violence and reproductive rights. She is a changemaker with many “firsts” on her resume. She has been honored to support myriad survivors reclaiming their voices and pursuing safety, one court case, legislative bill, systemic change, policy implementation, and courageous conversation at a time. Tracy is the proud Sephardi Jewish mother of two amazing adult children whom she loves beyond words, and she adores that her wonderful husband of 28 years doesn’t remove her feminist bumper stickers when he drives her car, even though they are magnetized to provide that option. Tracy’s favorite holiday is Halloween and the best introduction she has received to date as a public speaker is “This woman is as fierce as her shoes!”