Janette Schafer: On the day I testify for Homeland Security
an homage to “The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats
The darkness drops again. I square my shoulders, dab lipstick of martyr red on that which spills the truth.
My mind fixes on the memory of his mustache, gagging hair, rude insinuation of tongue in my cavity of gums.
My prayers were not to be the only one. In the shadow, 438 images of child pornography. I slouch beneath supplication. We were but mice to a falcon.
I think of the shape of my seven-year-old body cocooned in the weight of my near-fifty years. She is in my throat, her second coming at hand.
Together we draw nigh to this rough beast under protection of the Federal Government. We face the nightmare of our rocking cradle.
Surely there is more than this gray room and sterile sound of fingers on a keyboard taking record of this blood-dimmed tide.
At the edge of my fingertips she shimmers of invisibility, the child I was before his slow thighs blanked her gaze.
She is Light Guardian, Music of the Spheres, her hour, come at last.
Janette Schafer is a freelance writer, photographer, and singer living in Pittsburgh. She is the chief editor of Social Justice Anthologies and the Artistic Director of Beautiful Cadaver Project Pittsburgh. Her writing and photographs have appeared in numerous publications. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Chatham University. She is the author of “Something Here Will Grow” published by Main Street Rag. She has a forthcoming chapbook titled “Mother’s Unbearable Itch” from Alien Buddha Press.
Familial and sexual trauma are motifs in Janette’s writing. On October 7, 2019, the man who had sexually abused Janette as a child was arrested by federal agents. Facebook reported to Homeland Security conversations in which her abuser had used Facebook’s messenger to solicit young girls to send sexually explicit photos and videos. Janette testified to Homeland Security about the sexual trauma she had endured until age 13 from her abuser. The federal agent indicated that her testimony helped secure a plea deal for the prosecution and her victim impact letter was read at sentencing. Her abuser was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison and began serving his term in December 2020.
Janette agreed to share these details publicly in an extended bio to help allay the stigma, shame, and secrecy inherent with being a sex abuse survivor. She also wishes to thank PAAR (Pittsburgh Action Against Rape) for the support as she gave testimony and waited for the trial and sentencing outcomes. The phone number for PAAR is 412.431.5665.