Trigger Warning: description of assault & abuse
I needed to do it. I needed to wear the story of my assault on my skin. It felt like a mistake I had to make and a choice I needed to act on quickly.
It started with my back tattoo, I found that a lot of emotions came up about my assault while getting a tattoo that speaks to my artisthood. I was resentful of that tattoo experience being about him. I was resentful of so many things being about him.
That night I found the Latin phrase he had a partial stick and poke of, one that I had offered to work on our last night together. He was drunk and I was desperate to find something for us to do that was better than him hurting himself. He had gotten drunk before and cut himself in front of me. I was scared of that repeat so I offered to add to his tattoo. He turned away from me, going to a bar to get drunker instead. This was the night I finally decided to leave him. It wasn’t until after the clarity of that choice that I let it sink in how toxic our relationship was. I was out to lunch the next day when I realized I had been assaulted.
There was a day when he put a bag over my head, dragged me to the closet, stripped me and chained me to a chair inside. He forced me to tell a story and then strangled me unconscious, triggering a now haunting PTSD that affects my creativity and my writing. The struggle around writing was enough to make me suicidal in the years that followed and I suffered silently and alone with that.
So I came across the Latin phrase:
Una salus victis nullam sperare salutem
I decided I needed to get it tattooed, bigger and more beautiful than his shitty incomplete stick and poke. I would take that phrase and make it a metaphor for my healing.
This is what I wrote about it:
In honour of the person who strangled me, whose assault left a mark on my life. The story I carry is not just inside me, I carry it on my flesh for all the see. It was relatively easy, kind of pain free. Simple to bring something with meaning to completion.
On the night I left you, I offered to finish your stick and poke tattoo. Or to work on it, or something, anything to keep you calm while near blackout drunk. You didn’t want to finish it, you got drunker instead. I knew I had to leave, should’ve realized a lot sooner.
“The last hope of the damned is to abandon all hope”
Is what you told me it meant,
I looked up Viktor and read it in a book, differently translated as:
“One hope saves the defeated, the knowledge which they can’t be saved”
In the story of Trojans, what a trojan horse you were, the shell of what I wanted, but full of demons within.
I like my translation best
“I’ll go down fighting”
Wearing my story on my skin was liberating. When people ask and I tell the story I get high fives for survival. He strangled me so getting it close to my neck seemed appropriate. I always knew I wanted to reclaim that experience with a tattoo but I could not have imagined doing something so beautiful.
Part of me is scared he’ll find out, scared he’ll hunt me down. But that part of me that’s scared of him isn’t in control of me. I choose instead to wear my bravery on my skin.