Should is a dangerous word.
My Aunty was raped twice.
The first time she didn't fight back. Shock and fear kept her still.
Why didn't you fight?
You "should" have screamed. You "should" have done this and this and that.
The second time, she'd gone back to a friends house. The guy's girlfriend suddenly disappeared, the guy she liked feigned "sleep" on the sofa, and the other guy, made his move. She fought this time, with a head full of "shoulds". When he was finished, he tossed her down the stairs onto the pavement outside. This is where she was found.
My mother went to see her in the hospital. Swollen, bruised, covered in knife-cuts and bite marks, but somehow alive. My mother held her as tight as she could and thanked the world that this good heart was still with her.
After, they took the man to court. He was found guilty. But, Britain in the 70's was a sexist place so she was only awarded half the compensation (as a woman she was half to blame afterall.) The guy she had liked, she didn't like anymore. He struggled to make eye contact with her after that. He bought flowers and chocolates, but nothing could ease his guilt that he had remained in inaction. My aunt never saw her rapist's girlfriend again, but she probably blamed my aunt for taking her sweetheart away, even when she had remained in the other room, listening.
And my mother? She raised me strong and aware. But also to know my own limitations. Alive and bloodied would always be better than dead. And I was never to carry shame for whatever choices I made in a situation of someone else's making.
Should is an easy word in the safe after, but it doesn't protect you during.
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