What Is Bravery?

Why say I’m brave?
You don’t call robbery victims brave
when they tell
You don’t call shooting victims brave
when they tell
You don’t call mugging victims brave
when they tell
Yet your clouded view calls me brave
when I tell
I was raped


Today is Quadrille Monday over at dVerse Poets Pub. The prompt will be up at 12:00 PT, but I learned that the word for today is “cloud” from Victoria who has access to the prompt earlier than I do. But I wrote the first draft of this Quadrille earlier this morning not knowing what the word was and then worked it in later. I think it’s better with the change.

The impetus for this poem was something that happened last week when I told a group of people in a meeting that I had been raped. I won’t go into the context of the discussion, but during and after the meeting several people told me how brave I was to speak up. As I pondered those comments over the past week I felt an anger welling up. To me, those comments were indicative of the stigma that still remains on victims of sexual assault, like somehow we are partly to blame for what has happened to us and we should be ashamed of what we’ve been through.

I am thankful that God doesn’t see it that way. He doesn’t call me brave; He calls me beloved.

I am a Jesus Freak, and I don't care who knows it. I am a wife, mother, sister, aunt, daughter, and friend. My blood family is only part of the larger family of Christ that I belong to. I love to write, especially about my dear Savior.


32 Responses

  1. Sadly.. A rape culture
    started in the old testament
    around the time of concubines
    and sharing daughters..
    and still reigns
    to women
    all ways that comes…
    there is no bravery/patriarchy
    in the weakness of man fallen to rule….

  2. I believe that those well meaning people said what they did because of the shame that many rape victims have felt and thus kept quiet about the crime against them. I think they were saying you sure were brave not to keep quiet and feel shameful about it. It does take courage to speak up! The fact that many victims blame themselves doesn’t help matters…more shame. Thanks for sharing, Liinda.

    • I don’t doubt that they were well meaning. And at first I even thought it was nice of them to say. As I thought about it more it just made me frustrated that we are still in a place as a society and culture that there is shame associated with this type of crime for the victims instead of the perpetrators.

  3. Oh, Linda. He does indeed call us beloved. I am so sorry for what happened to you. Our scars do make us brave, I think – more places for His light to shine through.

  4. I hope a day would come that no one will have to survive a rape. A time when such cruelty exist no more.

    This is a powerful and insightful piece, Linda. And what makes it more beautiful is the way you look at life. God bless.

  5. Powerful poem. Sometimes it seems that the leaps women have made, are backtracking further and further. I am so sorry this happened to you, and I hope there is some comfort in sharing.

  6. “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” (Rev. 12:11)

    Your testimony helps to set people free and destroy the works of Satan.

    Now, whether we react to your testimony properly may always be up in the air when you speak or write. Yet if your goal is to set us free, then you may have to give us grace and allow the Holy Spirit to work in us. Maybe, we will change.

  7. I feel anger on your behalf and guilt that I belong to a culture that glorifies sexual assault and degradation of women. We all bear the collective responsibility to do more to prevent future rapes.

  8. Stigma only adds to the pain…you were a victim of man’s evil but God is good and loves you as His daughter. I think He weeps with us over the wrongs done/said to us. Prayers for peace and healing.

  9. Powerful words. The stigma is institutional, from the beginnings with law enforcement and evidence giving, right through to the language of the courtroom. It ALL needs to be challenged constantly. Thank You for these words of truth.

  10. I find your use of ‘clouded’ in this powerful and honest poem such an innovative use of the word for such a thought provoking issue.So much of our thinking is clouded but your poem really clears the ground. Yes, rape is another form of violence and we don’t help the victims by sensationalising it or demeaning it. Thanks for fully sharing why you wrote the poem.

  11. Oh Linda, I feel for you. People who have not experienced rape or known someone who has been raped find it difficult to express how they feel about it. I can understand your anger. As you say,God doesn’t call you brave – He calls you beloved. Your poem expresses your emotions so well and you’ve worked in the prompt word perfectly.

  12. Know this….many many many people do not blame the one who was raped. Perhaps these people simply were at a loss for words — people struggle for the right words. Sadly, and we are seeing this played out in the media now, there are still too many who view female bodies as chattel, something separate from the mind and something ready for the taking. I have faith that more and more we are beginning to answer these folks back and say, this is NOY okay.
    Your poem is powerful. Thank you for posting.

    • I do know they meant well and do not intentionally “blame the victim.” But we need to change the language we use with sex crimes so that they are seen as the same as any other in terms of the victim. Thanks for your encouragement.

  13. Oh my, this made me want to cry, Linda. Bravery lies in the willingness to not allow oneself to remain a victim, I suppose–no matter what the offense. I can’t imagine the pain of surviving rape. But I also see courage in those who don’t fall victim to bullying…or at least don’t remain there. God bless you.

  14. “I am thankful that God doesn’t see it that way. He doesn’t call me brave; He calls me beloved.” So true; I am thankful, too! Your Quadrille is well written, thank you.

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