Tonight, peace will finally come…
No more! It's all too much, and I'm so done. Done with the pain. Done re-living events from the
1970s and 80s on a constant loop in my brain. All of it coming at me like a bad dream sequence
in a movie, but this dream sequence is in 4-D. Too much. All of it. Make it stop! I have to make
it stop. Spinning out of control. All of it coming at me nonstop. Visions only I can see. Flashes of
ropes and knives, a darkened room lined with brown paneling, a box filled with “toys,” and the
form of a monster, covered in sweaty black hair, smirking, terrorizing, looming. The smells of
stale cigarette smoke and beer breath linger in the air, but it is air only I can smell. His laughter
echoes only in my ears with his words -- whore, little bitch, worthless, I will kill you. Alone in
feeling his prickly, black mustache, clammy, aggressive hands, and force overtaking a little girl.
The girl I was forty years ago, yet it all feels so real right now.
No more! This night will not be like so many other nights -- sleepless, petrifying, a brain filled
with a movie whose projector I have no control over. Tiny, round pale blue pills will be my
One, two, three, four . . . solid bits of hope for relief sliding down my throat. The only answers to
make it all stop . . .
Five, six, seven, eight . . . I still feel him, his weight, his hands. I still see him . . . can hear that
sick laugh continue . . .
Nine, ten, eleven, twelve . . . invisible cigarette smoke still burns my nose, makes me cough, the
smells of his beer breath and moist flesh make me want to vomit . . .
Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen . . . I'm still a whore, worthless, damaged forever . . .
Seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty . . . Finally, relief coming. Pain is dulling. Sleep will once
again be my friend. His voice floating away to the distance. His touch lighter. Now, the smell of
Seal the deal . . . ten more blue bits of hope . . . now at thirty.
The bottom of the pill bottle finds the bottom of my pain.
No more! Serenity is coming. There is peace in the fog . . . eyes are heavy . . . the world in slow
motion . . . weight is lifting . . . floating . . . light . . . carefree . . . until . . .
A shrill of laughter shatters the mirage of escape. A bubbly, brown haired girl so precious she
causes true reality to set in. He did those things so long ago. The smells, the visions, the sounds,
the feelings are ancient. Events from decades ago, but the little girl in the next room is real. Her
brother is real. They are perfect and love and mine. What am I doing to them? Condemning them
to a life with some of the very people I must escape, because without me, they have no one.
Without me, they will leave their lives of love and acceptance. Their home will no longer be a
safe haven, but instead a prison, reeking of alcohol. A frigid, dungeon where souls are crushed,
and brains are washed in the rancid, murky water of messages of worthlessness that stains for a
No more! I must be strong. Crawl my way to the bathroom, fingers down my throat, retching
through the fog. Frantically trying to get rid of them. Tiny blue specks come up out of me, each
one a frightening reminder that he almost won. They are not my saviors that bring hope. They
are the monster’s tokens of victory. They represent defeat. He will not win. Not tonight or ever.
My children will not suffer because of him. I will not die because of him. With an empty
stomach, I will sit up all night. No sleep by choice.
One o’clock . . . two o’clock . . . I will not slip away. I will fight eyes so tired, begging for sleep.
Fight the enticing nebula that taunts me with promises of everlasting peace.
Three o’clock . . . four o’clock . . . Slowly ascending from the numbing fog. Lucidity is setting
in. I want to live, tonight and always. Not just for my kids, but for every survivor who has been
left to feel they cannot take another day, because of the monsters who left them feeling that way.
Five o’clock . . . six o’clock . . . Rising from immeasurable hopelessness like the break of dawn.
Resolved to transcend the ingrained lessons of worthlessness and shame. Breathe in sweet
victory over a night almost lost to the great escape. He has taken enough from me.
Traci Powell transplanted to Central Florida from New Jersey in 2008. She is a neonatal nurse practitioner and a mom of with two kids, two dogs and two cats. Traci is an advocate for survivors of child sexual abuse living with PTSD and started Voices in the Silence to give Central Florida survivors a safe place to tell their stories and connect. She shares her story to battle the shame and stigma surrounding sexual abuse and PTSD, because she knows one survivor’s spoken story is another survivor’s permission to speak.