How to Be Safe by Melissa D. Sullivan

Issue 13

Try not to
wear scarves or
long jewelry
that could be used to
strangle you. If you’re in
a home
with stairs,
try to stay on the first floor. If
violence is unavoidable,
make yourself
a small target. Dive
into a corner
and curl up into a ball
with your face
and arms around
each side of your head.
Don’t run
to where the children are,
as your partner
may hurt
as well.


Method:  In researching how to help in a friend facing a bad situation, I found this website of practical, yet horrifying advice meant to assist victims of domestic violence.  As I read the suggestions, I was struck with how violence was presented as all but inevitable. In creating the poem, I tried to focus on the instructions that made me the smallness I felt when reading that website.  

Melissa D. Sullivan is a writer, attorney and recipient of the 2016 Parent-Writer Fellowship in Fiction from the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing.  Her most recent short story appeared in the Adelaide Literary Magazine. She lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania with her family.