Some Thoughts On Living In The Body Of A Woman Who Was Sexually Abused As A Child
The Axis Theatre, Ballymun November 26th, 2021 at 1pm
Written, and performed, by Hazel Katherine Larkin
Oh no! Not another piece of work about her body by an Irish woman writer over 40!! What is this band wagon upon which she is jumping?!
Well, actually, I’m not jumping on any bandwagon. I’m in that space where ideas I had years ago were deemed unacceptable, undesirable, unwanted. A bit like myself really. And then, and then, they found their way into the mainstream. They found their way to be acceptable, these stories of women. It takes years before my ideas become acceptable, and it’s usually my words in someone else’s mouth that makes them acceptable.
It used to annoy me. Sometimes it still does. Frustrates me more than annoys me, I suppose. My lack of privilege has been an obstacle forever. I have white privilege, that’s for sure, but I lack many other types of privilege. Like a loving parent, a supportive sibling, a husband, boyfriend or significant other, who wanted me to succeed. I have been without many of the privileges that allow people to thrive, to succeed, to live.
Maybe I don’t feel like I have a home because I have never felt at home in my own body. It never belonged to me in the first place. Or, rather, I was never let feel it was mine: It – I – was always treated like public property.
I present to you the body of evidence. The body of an abused woman. And the point? The point is that nothing that has happened to me has not happened to someone else. That anything that has happened to me, has happened to someone else. That I have never experienced anything ‘unique’. There really isn’t anything special about me, and my experiences. Except, perhaps, my ability and willingness to share them.
Why do I share? For two reasons: So you – who have had similar experiences – won’t feel alone. And so you – who have never experienced these things have a glimpse of what it’s like.
I remember someone being a bit cross with me, a few years ago, when I wrote a piece about infertility treatment. Her response was ‘You don’t have to go into such great detail. We all know what it’s like.’ But the truth is that we don’t all know. It isn’t common knowledge. We might think we know, but we don’t. We only know something when we have the details – either through personal experience, or through detailed information from those who have had personal experience.
More recently, someone who read my book Gullible Travels made the point that the graphic details made the abuse I suffered as a child more visceral, but also made the book more compelling. That the writing made a difference – the details were rendered in such a way as to not feel gratuitous.
I am making my body an offering because I finally feel like I can: Like it is mine to offer. I get to decide who gazes upon it. Maybe that will make me feel at home. I am sharing. I am sharing what I have, and what I am. I am inviting visitors. I want to nourish my guests. Pull up a chair, and let me honour you.