The Story of An Unhappy Tale
Gabriela Estefanía Riera Robles (@gabyestefaniarie), Mexico
Juliana. How I would love to be called Juliana! The name is full of power and presence, full of force and vehemence. Truthfully, I think all of the qualities I give to Juliana are just in my mind and I invent them to survive and resist.
I am Estefanía, 28 spins around the sun, 8 hours of sleep a day, 4 cups of coffee on average and 1 hour of social media per day. My story is one of 23 years of resistance.
At five years old, the girl I used to be was in her grandparents’ house playing with her cousins. In that circle of bubbly love, just like that, I was a victim of sexual violence by one of my cousins, El babas [The Slime].
From that moment the girl’s life was transformed into a state of not feeling worthy. It took away her love, compassion, maternity, allowing herself to receive and give affection, trust, having dreams; it took away her body, her menstrual bleeding, her spirituality. She had become a slave to him.
Estefanía, 16 spins around the sun, 11 years of resistance, 12 hours of sleep a day, 4 hours of television allowed, and 1 hour of crying per day. The girl was crushing memories.
Estefanía, 22 spins around the sun, 17 years of resistance, 9 hours of sleep a day, 8 hours of university classes, and 1 hour of music per day. The señorita [young woman] decided to forget. The señorita promised to keep quiet. The señorita tries to fit in.
Estefanía, 28 spins around the sun, 23 years of resistance, 7 hours of sleep a day, 6 hours of class a week, 4 ex-boyfriends, and 1 hour of therapy a week.
Have you ever thought about the importance of language, words, ideas, the ways in which our mind expresses itself verbally? I tend to get hooked on thinking and finding a logical answer for things. It’s so obvious! How could I not rely on that resource when that was the mechanism I chose at the tender age of five to process all confusing information that had come to my mind: “Whoever loves you, hurts you.” So, to cope with the pain, my body and my mind became dissociated. I gave myself nicknames: the baby, the girl, the señorita. And so it was that birthdays, important occasions, unforgettable moments, loves, break ups, friendships came and went. And the baby, girl, and señorita were dissociated. Juliana! How I would love to be named Juliana! Unruly, uncompromising!
Sunday. A day like any other during this quarantine. As my mother, la Chatita, would say, “Because, daughter of mine, this quarantine caught us locked up.” Yet for me, it meant that Sunday evening I could talk with my family.
Juliana, I know that I would love for us to be friends and that you will always be there to defend me. Because I find myself here again facing my greatest fear: El babas has entered the family virtual meeting. By the great goddesses! Juliana, help me please!
Juliana was that energy that would set me on fire and make me want to set everything else on fire, too. She was the very life force, womanly strength, the joy of feeling alive. Juliana, my white wolf, had been there from the very beginning of the resistance, protecting my essence when I was a baby, girl, and young woman. Juliana was my guardian and guide.
“This message is not intended to greet you or to ask what is going on in your life. NO! This message comes straight from my gut, out of anger and a deep desire to seek justice with my own hands. And to tell you what you are: A RAPIST!
You are an adult who is clearly aware of his actions, deeds, choices, and the damage he has done to people all his life. But just in case you do not remember, I am a 28-year-old woman, your cousin, who you sexually abused when she was a girl. Now do you remember who I am? Oh no, wait a minute. You surely have done the same to others, but that is not mine to deal with in this story. Here I will do justice for me and my life.
You are shameless and disgusting. I do not care about the reasons you have decided to be in my spaces, but once and for all I am telling you, YOU ARE A RAPIST and absolutely shameless. Get out of my life, get away from everyone in my life, get away from anything to do with me. Leave our family spaces, I do not want to see you, or I will say to your face, YOU ARE A RAPIST!
Let me be clear: I am not the same innocent girl that you abused. Now I am a woman who can say all of this to your face: YOU ARE A RAPIST!
I will not give you the pleasure of making me feel less than or like my story does not matter. If you have had a miserable life or have faced suffering and sadness, that is not my problem. My concern is healing myself and living a life free of your trash and your hurt, a life in which I do justice for the girl inside me. Now, the woman I am repudiates you and sends you back to the space you have been living in and where you will remain for the rest of your life: the shadows.
My pack is with me, as you will have noticed. I AM NOT ALONE! I AM NOT CRAZY! Your world is falling to pieces around you because I broke the silence about who you are, A RAPIST.”
Can you feel that?
Juliana sent that text to El babas on April 28, 2020 at 3:58 PM. Trembling, frightened, emotions spilling over. Ay! Would you look at that brave life? I confronted him! I know that facing the abuser of my childhood was not something I was looking for, just like I was not looking to be abused. I had dreamed about saying to his face all that he was, all the damage he had done, all the hell he had put me through. And poof! There it was, I had done justice, I had denounced him.
Now we can be on our way together, Juliana and Estefanía. The pain will always be present. But I have learned that my life cannot be reduced to a single experience.
My life cannot be reduced to one of victimhood, pain, and abuse. My life is a story of ongoing healing from a place of deep self-love.
The girl, the young woman, and the grandmother together are abolishing time; they see each other, accept each other, and seek justice by way of consciousness, awakening, walking, accompanying, and loving.
The damage and control which that experience caused in my life are still here, but they are no longer dominant. Only a few days have gone by, but I feel like I can look myself in the eye, and smile from my soul. The fear has gone. I can live in and with myself.
Borislava Madeit and Stalker Since 1993 (@fineacts), Sofia, Bulgaria
For creative nonprofit studio Fine Acts
These works represent the power, courage and perseverance of women. The original fighters, the born readies, the ones who never gave up and who continue to campaign – and to win – for all women.