The roar of the lioness, the squeak of the mouse.

Voices on sexual assault: mouse or lioness.

Voices on sexual assault: mouse or lioness. (Photo courtesy Pixabay.)


[Trigger warning: reflections on sexual assault.]

I wasn’t sure what to do with my feelings last week. They sat in a jumbled heap in my gut, and I couldn’t seem to sort them out.

I didn’t want to write about them; I had other priorities, like my memoir manuscript. But I couldn’t escape the heap in my gut nor the whirlwind in my head. I needed to write in order to figure this out, and move on.

Now that I’m a writer, that’s what I do. I write.

So here goes:

This is about the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week, most of which I watched. 

To be clear: I write from a position of privilege in that I have never been sexually assaulted. Harassed, yes. Assaulted, no. 

But I have been in positions where it could easily have happened, so when women tell of their assaults and attacks, I feel their fear and pain deeply. It could have been me. By the grace of God or the luck of the draw, it wasn’t me.

I feel their fear and pain, and when their stories are dismissed, I feel their betrayal and humiliation and anger.

I want my voice of support for these women to be heard, but mine is a quiet voice, and there are more relevant voices—many of them—roaring on the internet and over the airwaves. My voice would be lost. In fact, acquaintances have asked me to allow the roars to own the stage in this chaotic time. Now is not the time for quiet voices, they said.

I claim to listen more than I talk, so I did that–I listened. 

Yet my writer instincts would not allow my voice to be silenced. So I’ve turned that voice into a poem. It’s not my genre, but the words have quieted the jumble and stilled the whirlwind, for now, at  least.

The roar of the lioness, the squeak of the mouse. 

A bird sings.
This is my voice, a melody of peace and harmony.

An owl hoots. 
This is my voice, waiting for dusk to be heard, quiet wisdom.

A mouse squeaks. 
This is my voice, gentle, unobtrusive, sometimes unheard.
But persistent.

A lioness roars.
This is not my voice.
Her roar drowns out the hoots and songs and squeaks.
The roar commands attention; the jungle listens, it stirs in response.
A roar moves mountains.

A squeak moves nothing.
But it greases the wheels of motion.
It persists.

No Comments

  1. judy lawless on October 1, 2018 at 9:57 PM

    I share your feelings. Karen. 🙂

  2. Debbie Kirsch on October 2, 2018 at 6:53 PM

    I feel the same, too. But for the Grace of God, & some of my own innocent stupidity, at the time…

  3. Debbie Kirsch on October 2, 2018 at 6:55 PM

    And, how could I forget to say, sweet, bittersweet poem.

  4. Deborah Rampolla on October 3, 2018 at 7:01 PM

    Hey there Karen…….I haven’t talked to you in a while, but I love and miss you. I love the eloquence of your writing. You’ve hit the nail on the head with how we as individuals find different methods of expression. All are important. Women (and men) need to speak in any way they are able about injustices. Thank you for putting you feeling into words.

  5. Wal Green on December 23, 2018 at 10:56 AM

    Hello Karen. The importance of your words here must never be underestimated. Sexual offences should never go unpunished. In sexual offences I have been involved in (retired cop), the perpetrator uses their real or acquired position of power to help them facilitate their offence(s). The unfortunate aspect is that the victims become victims because of their vulnerabilities. An aspect of which is that sometimes the victim is unaware of how vulnerable they are.

    I hope my contribution makes sense and is not too lengthy.

  6. Karen DeBonis on December 24, 2018 at 12:42 PM

    Wal, your contribution makes absolute sense and is not at all too long. Power preys on vulnerability. That dynamic plays out every day, and if there is a silver lining in the stories in the news in the past two years, it’s that it has been exposed. I do hope as a result, women become more aware of their vulnerabilities, and learn how speak out. Thanks for reading, and sharing your thoughtful comment!

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