It’s been a long day, her hands are on my lap, palms upward facing as she’s stretched out on the L sofa. The soles of her feet are angry. Hot with frustration at the day. She’s staring blankly at the ceiling. Her ex-girlfriend used to stare at the ceiling in her bedroom, claiming the flimsy wooden shelf made with plant pot hooks reminded her of her Godfather’s house with all the Jesus statues.
If the Jesus statues and ceramic doors in all of our godparents houses could speak they’d have a lot in common. They’d spill secrets most family members want to bury. Inanimate objects know more about what she’s been through than our closest friends. There’s always a shelf, a doll, or a crooked door that plays a recurring role in the episodic daydreams we womxn involuntarily visualise: When we’re waiting in line at the grocery store; right before a date asks “what were you just thinking”; when she scrapes the wall in the passage by the bedrooms with a chopstick.
She did the scrapey thing on the wall often, for many years. That wall has an ocean of metallic wavey lines on it, each one telling a story of an anxious hand; a moving piece of furniture, or the twins fighting again. No friend, therapist or relative will know as much as the insides of her Mums house. What is inatimate objects could speak? What if the wall reach out to those hands and make her feel seen, say “I see you” and validate her feelings.
When I’m writing about she I’m trying to avoid that its me. I think this is what many of us do, because we all know the deal yet barely speak about the traumatic experiences that reside in amongst us in real time. Global Surveys say that about 1 in 3 (30%) of women worldwide have been subjected to either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. The problem in Egypt, where I have been living for the past 6 months is alarmingly high at 99.3%. This means that in every social setting, there’s a bag of people navigating similar trauma to me.
Since training in “Trauma informed” facilitiation practices I have become better equipped at spotting trauma related stress in the everyday. Yet, the more I explore this in my work practices, the more I realise how paralysed I feel by anything reminds me of my own past trauma. Not long ago, I ran away to the states to be closer to my (now another) ex after I was sexually assaulted by someone I thought was a close friend.
A Definition — Sexual assault is an act in which one…