Taking Back My Voice/How to Heal

Andrew Rimby

I don’t remember his name. Why, you may ask? A shutdown of that part of my brain that knows if I conjure up who he is, by name, a wave of trauma will sweep over me. (a protective feature) Wasn’t it enough that I thought I wouldn’t be able to escape alive from his house? One thought that continues to repeat in  my mind is “do what he says to get out before he harms you even further.” 

The Event:

A man you had been with before, and this was the 5th time you had visited him. The timeline of that night, blurry…………………………………………………………………………he joked about using physical violence when he got mad and pulled a knife on someone who questioned him. (I should have left then)

The “NO” I screamed was loud, I know it was. Physical force that I used to get him off of me after he refused to listen to my “NO” after “NO.” Then, the gaslighting deflective technique was used on me.

I did this to you because…

  1. “You teased me so how could I resist?”
  2. “Why did you come here tonight if it wasn’t to do this?”
  3. “How could I help myself when you look the way you do?”

All of these questions screamed at me as I ran out the door. 


It’s been 3 and ½ years. I know I had to write this down to continue to survive and thrive. In solidarity for those who understand and have lived through assault. 


Andrew Rimby (he/him/his) is a Ph.D. Candidate and queer activist at Stony Brook University researching nineteenth-century literature from a queer transatlantic perspective. He is the 2019 inaugural recipient of the Guiliano Global Fellowship, a 2019-2020 Public Humanities Fellow, and a 2019 Stony Brook Graduate Fellow in the Arts, Humanities, and Lettered Social Sciences. He is the co-creator of The Ivory Tower Boiler Room, a Literary and Artistic Community. His article, on teaching Whitman during the pandemic, recently appeared in Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies. He is also the Associate Editor for the Watchung Review and a board member of the Walt Whitman Initiative.

To read more of Andrew’s work, find him on Instagram and Twitter!

Life in Quarantine: Witnessing Global Pandemic is an initiative sponsored by the Poetic Media Lab and the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis at Stanford University.

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