I Am 12.
Taleah Cook, Grade 12, Narrabri High School -
It was christmas day, I can smell the turkey, ham, and a candle scented like a Christmas tree, this year is different. Suddenly this wave of terror swept over me, it is because he arrived. My family has no idea, except for him. “Why are you so stiff? You seem scared.”, of course I am, he is the reason I'm scared of men. He is the reason I shudder when a man touches me, the reason I cower towards men. He has been for a year now. I wonder how long this will go on. I want to know how long I will be scared of men. So many questions went through my head when it happened “Why is this happening to me? Why is HE doing this to me? What did I do to him? Is he angry with me?”. When all of this happened I was 11. Those questions always run through my mind. I am exhausted. I am 12.
Loving myself is hard now. When I look in the mirror I don’t recognise the person staring back at me, she was pretty, she has long blond hair, I want to cut it, I'm not allowed to. Dad says I can't, because I look better with long hair, but I need to cut it. She had blue and grey eyes, now my eyes are broken and glazed over like glass. She was glowing with innocence, now I am dull. She used to smile, now I fake it, it was a pretty smile, but now it is faint. I used to know who I was, I don't know who I am now. I started school at 4, I loved going to school, now I don't, I’m in sixth grade, with a male teacher who gives me a look when I am working. That look terrifies me, I am always scared. I am 12.
I flinch when I am touched, even when it’s mum. He doesn’t live with us, but I am still scared of men, he doesn’t visit often, but When he does, I am stiff. When i see him, I am supposed to see love and safety, but I see fear, and hate. He is my older brother, aren’t they supposed to protect their younger siblings? When I see my house, I am supposed to feel safe, I feel petrified. The only time I feel safe is when I see my dad. He is the only man I trust. I am 12.
I was 11. He was my brother, I loved him. But he did not love me. He told me to keep my mouth shut and he will be nice to me. I am silent, my family doesn't notice. No one notices, but him. He says things to me, I hope it doesn’t happen again. Twice was enough, once was enough. Nothing was enough. I was me, now I am the nothing, all I see is dark. I was 11, now I am 12.