it was me and a gun
and a man on my back
but i haven't seen BARBADOS
so i must get out of this

Each one of us has a rape story.

That is not to deny the suffering of thousands of young Muslim girls, chosen by Serbian soldiers acting on orders from their leaders, then dumped, dead or pregnant, with no ability to rise on the third day. Nor to make more acceptable the fate of a shocking number of American prison inmates, every day facing the cruel, but not unusual, punishment administered by those stronger than them.

I can never understand their devastation, or feel anything remotely like their despair. But still, I have my rape story.

5am friday morning
thursday night far from sleep

The nineties were still new and shiny when I met my knight. I was a mouse leading a drab high school existence, not even visible enough to be ostracized. To be honest, I hardly noticed myself at the time. I was a shadow, doing my duties, living in dreams. Then I met him.

and do you know CAROLINA
where the biscuits
are soft and sweet

He saw me. How he picked me out from the crowd, I don't know. But his look touched me, and suddenly, I was someone special. So one day, out of nowhere, he came up to me and said hi. I was sitting under a tree reading Pride and Prejudice, and he was the last I'd expected. To be honest, I hadn't expected anything.

i'm still up and driving
can't go home obviously

We started doing stuff together. You know, other than reading, pondering, studying. I learnt how to bowl and my maths grade plummeted. I handed in my first C essay and I got a lovely tan.

It's so easy to say that if i had known, i wouldn't have done that. I ruined one of my futures for that guy. I could have done better, but I chose not to. It seemed inevitable at the time. He was there for me, wasn't he? He was my life.

so i'll just change direction
cause they'll soon know where i live

One day, he asked me to skip school and go to the beach with him. It was overcast and clammy, not exactly a perfect day for seaside frolicking. Obviously, I couldn't refuse.

I felt nervously rebellious as we walked through grey sand dunes, alone together. I held his strong, safe hand as he led me, where, I knew not exactly. Then we stopped.

and i wanna live
got a full tank and some chips

I wanna fuck, he said. What? I think I asked, although the shock may have left me speechless. Earlier, we had kissed, we had held each other. We had done nothing more. More had never been on my agenda.

He didn't exactly tear my clothes off. I certainly didn't fight him. I lay in the dirty sand and let it happen to me, this invasion of my self, cursing myself for skipping school. When he was done, it started raining.

it was me and a gun
and a man on my back
and i sang "holy holy"
as he buttoned down his pants

And then what? He stopped being my hero. I dropped him, dropped everything, became your average depressed teen, thoroughly convinced that nobody could possibly understand me. I stayed in my room doing nothing for hours. I hardly spoke. If earlier I had revealed little of myself because nobody was interested, now I took deliberate care not to share anything with anybody.

And then? I went through life like a brick-walled tower, rarely thinking about it, but often feeling guilty for the direction my life had taken.

And? Did I ever get myself back? I hope so. The world is too beautiful to let one snake spoil it for you. I had lost a lot, and given up a lot. Slowly, I gathered up the pieces. I tried smiling again. It felt funny at first, then better.

It can't rain all the time.

you can laugh
its kind of funny
things you think
times like these
like i haven't seen BARBADOS
so i must get out of this

"Me and a Gun" is a voice-only song from Tori Amos's first solo album, Little Earthquakes. It is based on her own experience with a sexual assault. She wrote it a long time after it happened, as a response to the memories that flooded back to her.

The song has touched a lot of people, helping them deal with their traumas, and is still being played at concerts to a usually totally silent audience. As a consequence of the profound response to her song, Tori Amos has become heavily involved with RAINN, a support group for victims of sexual abuse.

"I'm doing this so that people who feel at 21 their lives are over, or they don't know how to have an intimate relationship, that they can be beautiful again." (Tori Amos)

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