Gryflet’s #MeToo

The #MeToo movement has been short of revolutionary, even becoming Time Magazine’s ‘Person of the Year.’ Its ripple effect has mobilized the previously silenced voices of those suffering from sexual harassment and abuse by those in positions of power. But there is a layer of atrociousness, masquerading as love, that casts another kind of profound silence that many times seems impossible to break: This is the dark cloud of domestic violence – hidden within walls that become psychological prisons – where publicizing the assaults could lead to higher levels of shame and brutality.

Bleeding Inside
…is a song that grapples with domestic violence.
written, performed, and produced by: Gryflet
vocals and lyrics: jh0st
recorded: 2015
Skin turned blue while waiting
for the abuse
Crashing down clashing knives
Walls inside her head…
Bleeding inside, blue as ice
She waiting for the hit
It’s love…
she loves to hate
…bleeding inside
Step outside the sun
Glasses hide but she don’t
Smile and pass but she won’t
Laugh inside the walls that…
Bleeding inside, blue as ice
She waiting for the hit
It’s love…
she loves to hate
…bleeding inside
Take it, burn it, break it, forsaken
Love it, turn it, burn it, run for it…
Bleeding inside, broken nights
You’re waiting for the hit
It’s love…
So run from it!
Ice eyes and hollow
Return to beg
Vengeance flash of light
Your ruined smile…

The #MeToo movement has been short of revolutionary, even becoming Time Magazine’s ‘Person of the Year.’ Its ripple effect has mobilized the previously silenced voices of those suffering from sexual harassment and abuse by those in positions of power. But there is a realm of atrociousness, masquerading as love, that casts another kind of profound silence that many times seems impossible to break: This is the dark cloud of domestic violence – hidden within walls that become psychological prisons – where publicizing the assaults could lead to higher levels of shame and brutality.

In 1999, I lived across ‘The Vogue,’ a cheaply built, garishly clad high-rise building steps from Manhattan’s Korea Town. The building had a reputation for being home to many of the upscale ‘room salon girls’ that worked the grey area between hostess and prostitute within the thinly veiled ‘businessmen lounges’ on the upper floors of 32nd street…

To and from work, the women would walk in groups, on the surface light-hearted and rambunctiously joking, locked arm in arm as if they were re-living their school days in Seoul. But there was one woman I noticed on several occasions, dressed better than even her designer label attired peers. She was always alone, aloof behind her dark, designer sunglasses, walking tense and tall.

Rushing to my office one Saturday summer, I inadvertently brushed past her in the opposite direction. Despite her attempts to hide behind her large, pitch-black sunglasses, an ominous black and purple bruise extended past her frames. I can still viscerally remember the smell of her perfume mingling with the New York traffic and almost imperceptible scent of drying blood. I froze for a moment in the face of on-rushing thoughts: There were rumors about ‘kept women’ where sugar daddies would pay the overpriced rent and lifestyle costs in exchange for the exclusive ‘right’ to a room salon girl they fancied. Could she be one of these women, trapped within a pseudo-domestic arrangement where money and power purchased abuse?

Unsure of what action I should take but knowing I should do something, I followed her for a couple blocks. I felt like a stalker as I churned over plans of how to find out what had happened to her. As I quickened my pace and drew closer, I saw welt-like bruises on her arm in what seemed like the imprint of a gripping hand. She was wearing a high, black collar in July that only accentuated more raw injuries on the side of her neck and swollen jaw. Sensing my proximity she quickened her gait. I shouldn’t have reached out and touched her shoulder. Maybe there were more hidden bruises there too.

“Excuse me, can I help you in any way?” I awkwardly blurted out. She pivoted and shook almost violently. Get away you f**-g bastard!” she shouted back in Korean. The afternoon crowd turned and stared. I backed off, confused and speechless, and let her disappear into the city.

Before I had only felt a distant sadness for those that lived at ‘The Vogue,’ but in the following weeks I now intentionally walked past the building’s lobby entrance to and from work to see if there were others like her trapped within the nightmare of this hideous architecture. I had jotted down the number to a domestic violence hotline and was determined to hand it to the bruised woman. Through my naive arrogance, I imagined myself in a kind of movie, playing the role of the unassuming hero. But the summer slipped by and I never saw her again. To this day, I wonder if there was more I could have done.

I imagine domestic abuse is like a dark, secret labyrinth trapping its victims. How can #MeToo translate into #HelpMeToo? In this case, the woman at ‘The Vogue’ was a prisoner of not only her circumstances, but of language and culture. Who would she reach out to even if she wanted to? Why didn’t she have a network of friends that could help her? Or was the maze too dark and too deep, an opiate nightmare of broken promises freshly tattooed in bruises of flesh, mind, and heart…