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Trigger Warning: Chained is a poem about the trauma that comes with domestic violence, and how it can still affect the survivor years later. It’s not an easy read, and wasn’t easy to write. Domestic violence is a cycle that affects many, and the effects continue even after the abusive relationship ends.  

I got away from you 8 years ago,

But I'm not free,

not truly.

You still haunt me in

my dreams. I can't

escape you.

I can't escape

your actions. I'm stuck.


You faced virtually no consequences.  Boo-hoo, you lost

                                                            a couple friends. I lost e v e r y t h i n g

            No one will believe you,

                        you stayed with him.

            Why would you stay in a place you

                        never felt safe? You’re not making any sense.

            When you’re being abused, nothing

            makes sense.

I couldn’t leave, everyone insisted that I was overreacting,

that I was “good for you.”

            Your chains were wrapped around my wrists and ankles.

I’m still trapped, rust is forming on the shackles. They’re invisible, but they’re


            Blood is dried on my skin; I can’t scrub you off me.

Why do you live in my head?

                                                I know you’re not thinking about me,

you don’t deserve to.

            You took away the person I was,

replaced me with a feral, traumatized animal.

                        I look in the mirror and I don’t recognize myself.

            But the reality is that I don’t know who I am without my trauma.


I want to hate you.

            I want you to feel the hatred I feel for myself.

                        It isn’t fair that you get to live your life

                                    while I’m left here, trapped.


I deserve to be free from your chains.


Ridley Zarate

Ridley Zarate has been writing poetry since middle school. With stark simplicity, they often write about the more difficult aspects of mental health others avoid discussing. Current work on their first book of poetry brings them closer to realizing a dream: to see their work in bookstores. Five cats enjoy interrupting their writing process, and when they aren’t writing or posting to their poetry Instagram, @sleepysadpoet, they can be found reading or playing video games.  

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