I Will Stand With You

In a playground, at seven years old, the idea that a boy is mean to you because he fancies you goes around like a game of telephone, and you believe it. So, it goes from whispers to passing notes and as you sit next to the boy who breaks your favourite pencil no one tells you any different. For you are naive and innocent, too young to know any better, and though it hurts when he trips you up the phrase boys will be boys is sang like a nursery rhyme.

At sixteen, when your first boyfriend starts to throw harsh words at you like rocks at a window you take it. You stand there cracked and close to shattering and he tapes you up with apologies, waiting for you to forgive him. He didn't mean it. He loves you. You know he wouldn't do anything to hurt you. So, you warrant his actions and don't tell a soul because that is what you were taught.

Now, you are in your twenties and instead of words it's punches that sting far worse. You see other girls who don't have to hide their love behind make up, glasses or excuses. You're not clumsy. You don't walk into cupboards. But you bruise like a peach and everything hurts. Yet, still you say nothing because he is always two steps ahead of you, against you, spinning lies that crawl under your skin while you find a reason to stay.

He's the only one that will love you, he's said so himself, and it plays like your song, at the tip of his tongue, and rather than turning it up like you used to, you try to drown it out and get him out of your head. He is always in your head, planting seeds of doubt. He asks where you are and who you're with as if you're a criminal and he's a patrol officer. He reads his version of Miranda rights, does anything he can to silence you, and says that even if you leave, it's your word against his.

Alas, it gets even worse and all you taste is blood as his touch, that was once so delicate, leaves marks on your skin. You play dot to dot with the bruises, trying to figure out where it all went wrong, but the trail runs as cold as him and you can't find your way back to the person you were. He has changed you, made you frail, but you can barely recognize him either. He no longer kisses your wounds so they heal. He blames you for everything.

Until, one day, you can't take it anymore. You want out of the cage he has built around you. To free yourself from his hold. Oh, it hurts so much to be with him and you flinch whenever he's near. You finally decide to tell someone, only to be called a liar. The title attention seeker pinned to you like a scarlet letter. Your encounter goes around like another bout of telephone with the truth slanted and distorted the further along it's passed. They don't take into account he drinks too much or that violence runs in his veins, and in lieu of asking for help you have become his punching bag.

You want to scream, almost losing your voice, because you are petrified. If he hits you one more time the light behind your eyes will fade. So, when you decide to take back your life, don't be afraid. It's no fault of your own. Love shouldn't hurt. It's him in the wrong. Someone should've told you that. And in your own fight to speak up against abuse, for what it is worth, I will stand with you.


  1. This is amazing, Zohra. The feelings in this are so real. You've written so beautifully about such a deep topic.

  2. Zohra, I'm in love with the way you string your words together. It's like it comes so effortlessly. This piece evokes so much emotion for the reader, even if they/someone they love have never gone through something like this-- that's how strong of a piece this is. I love how it flows chronologically from childhood to adolescence and now adulthood; it really speaks to how women shouldn't stay silent at the face of abuse, even if it seems harmless at first.

  3. Okay. I found it. My favorite peice. This is just too beautiful for words &i don't wanna say too much i'll such sound repetitive and bland. You are a wonder writer, Z. I love you.