First She Was Raped as a Child, Then Bad Got Worse

Photo Illustrations by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty

By the summer of ’81, the warring in my head was near con­stant. I had sharp memories about the day I was raped, and, at times, I awoke screaming in the dark. I was afraid to go out­side, went days without bathing and rarely ate. My tangled, unwashed hair fell out in clumps. I don’t remember crying or even talking much. I mostly kept to myself. It was safer that way, I thought.

I was scared that somebody might touch me.

Me and Mama were like ships passing in the night until the day I used a razor blade to arch my eyebrows. In a bizarre at­tempt to look like Farrah Fawcett, I also used a hot comb to straighten my hair and lopped off the front left section with a pair of her sewing scissors. I wanted feathered bangs like the white girls at school. I nicked my eyelid with the razor.

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