Reason #5,678 I read romance: The safe space it provides to have women reflect, speak, listen, express, and share our collective anger, frustration, and hurt.
I could have quoted three pages of this discussion but I knew I had to cut myself off somewhere.
Maybe she was shouting, but she couldn’t tell. “What could she have done differently, Nikhil? What? Stayed home? Stayed in places where you could have taken care of her, where you could have done with her as you pleased?” Sold her, starved her, told her who could and could not touch her.
She spun around, shaking so hard she could barely manage it. She couldn’t stand to be in the same room with him. Her skin felt too tight around her. Her scar felt like it would split at the seams, unable to contain the rage inside her. In all they’d done to her, she’d never questioned the colossal injustice of it. Of walking down the streets of her town and needing to wrap herself in her own arms, behind books, under layers and layers of clothes. She had done every single thing she could. Always.
And she had never, not for one moment, thought it was her fault.
She’d never for one moment not known it was them. The bastards who had taken everything. Her uncle who had taken her home by never giving her one. The man who’d bought her and taken her childhood. Those monsters who had taken her body. She’d never blamed herself. She’d felt only anger. ANGER. Such intense anger it had seared the wounds shut. Cauterized them.
But to hear Nikhil blame Jen for what those bastards did to her, to watch him be what she told herself every day all men couldn’t possibly be, someone who shoved all responsibility on women because he could, someone who stood apart and took comfort in not bothering to understand—it made the anger unbearable. Because there was Joy. And he would never be this. Because how could she stand it if he were?
“You okay?”Nikhil said behind her.
She was standing at the kitchen counter. The hard concrete clutched in her fingers. She hadn’t noticed herself move. That level of anger was unacceptable. It took away her awareness, her control. She tried to loosen her grip but couldn’t.
“I didn’t mean it was her fault,”he said behind her.
Actually, that’s exactly what he had meant.
It was easy to blame Jen. So he did. It wasn’t just him. The rest of the world did it too. All the time. Blame those who had been hurt. So they could live in the world that didn’t know how to stop those who did heinous things. In a world that let them get away with it.