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I’d like to have a bruise. A broken nose, some missing teeth. Something to show. Something people can see. Something that makes people step in and stop it all, make it go away.

I’d like a big scar – right across my face  – one that makes people gasp and look away. I want something that shows the pain, something that shows what it feels like – something that makes people glad they’re not me. Makes them know they’re the lucky ones, the ones who got it right, found Mr Right.

I’d like a big scar  – one I see every time I look in the mirror to remind me, so I never forget, so I don’t let it wash away in the river of time with everything else I can’t remember, so I don’t like him again, so I don’t think he’s OK, so I don’t laugh at his jokes and smile at him when he catches my eye.

I don’t want him to come here smiles and laughter and kindness and generosity. I don’t want his money, I don’t want him to buy me earrings, to pay my mortgage to share his wine. I don’t want him to be nice – I want him to rage at me, sneer at me – call me a slut. I want him to put me down, silence me, make me beg. I want my skin to crawl and my heart to pound as I struggle to swallow the bile rising in my throat.

I want to feel the coldness take hold of my heart again, to build the walls around me and dig in to feel safe. I want him to go away. Go far, far away and never come back, to never call my girls darling and tell them he loves them, I want them to forget the sound of his voice and the touch of his hand, I want to erase all their memories and replace them with ones of things that are good.

I want them to see the monster. I want them to know that this man is two men. He laughs and he jokes and then he turns. I want them to know that he is not safe, he is not good, he is not kind and he is not true. I want to wrap them in a blanket and hold them tight, keep them safe, never lose them.

What if I lost them? What if they never know? What if they fall in love with this man who is their father? What if they never understand?

I cannot bear it. I cannot bear the thought of them thinking I did wrong, of them thinking I was unfair, that I robbed them. What if I did? What if I did get it wrong? What if I should have been more patient? Stronger, more tolerant? What if I could have survived?

I am so confused. I need a scar. One I can see. One that reminds me of the tears, one that reminds me of the fact that this is how I always felt. That every night I cried into my pillow; that every night I cried into my pillow and hoped he wouldn’t realise, hoped I wouldn’t have to let him make it better, hoped he was asleep. I need a scar that says ‘slut’ so I remember that is what he used to call me,  another that says ‘disappointment’ so I never forget that’s what I was and one that says ‘shame’ because that is what I brought to him.

I want the world to see. I want the world to understand. I don’t want to have these thoughts on my own anymore, to cry alone in the dark. I want to be held tight . . . . so tight and have my tears wiped away. Kissed away by the one who loves me. I want to be told I’m not a disappointment that I don’t bring shame anymore. I want to be precious – I want to be a princess – I want to be honoured and loved. I am not a slut.

I am not a slut.

I never was.