Model Survivors by Mercedes Lucero

This piece was inspired by the words of Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo Movement, in which she states, “There is no model survivor.” It addresses sexual assault, and is a very powerful work.


Model Survivors

Because model survivors inherently know to call what was done to them sexual assault, they tell everyone. Model survivors don’t feel shame when they tell their friends. Nor guilt after they tell their parents. They even tell the neighbors. They whisper what happened to their cats. They tell the person who drops off their mail. They write letters to their childhood friends because it is that important.

Model survivors keep talking about it even in their Sociology lecture after the professor asks them to please sit back down so as not to disrupt the other students. Yet, because they are model survivors, they keep talking and when they are finished, the class (and the professor) all applaud in admiration for hearing such a compelling narrative by a model survivor.

Model survivors always call 9-1-1 and wait for police to arrive.

Model survivors always report the crime the next day.

Model survivors always report during the window of time and within the statute of limitations according to their state.

Model survivors always live in towns where there are adequate facilities in the area, all non-profit organizations that offer services free-of-charge. Model survivors seek out the help of mental health professionals and ask their families to accompany them for support. Model survivors have families that do so without question.

Model survivors have friends that believe them. Model survivors have parents who believe them. Police, who are trained to help facilitate communication during the investigation, are very understanding of model survivors. Nurses and psychiatrists tell model survivors that they’ve never witnessed such stunning model survivor behavior. Model survivors speak up even though they know the person.

Model survivors speak up even when it’s a family member.

Model survivors speak up even though they dated the person off and on a few years back.

Model survivors speak up even though they had consented multiple times before just not this particular time.

Model survivors speak up even when there are no physical injuries.

When the details start coming in, no one blames the model survivor after learning alcohol was involved and that they were both heavily intoxicated. No one blames the model survivor at all, in fact.

Model survivors always press charges. Model survivors live in states that help move the investigation forward. Model survivors have health insurance that covers the cost of the forensic exam.

Prosecution moves quickly for model survivors. Model survivors feel comfortable speaking in court. Model survivors feel comfortable speaking in front of their families, judges, prosecuting attorneys, and strangers. Most of all, model survivors feel comfortable speaking in front of the person. Model survivors are never afraid because they know they live in a system that designs policies to protect them.

Model survivors remember to eat breakfast and bring water to the trial.

Model survivors understand every question and do not get frustrated or appear angry.

Model survivors remember to speak slowly.

Model survivors take deep breaths.

Model survivors are calm when speaking.

When the trial ends after a few days of hearings and after a sufficient guilty verdict is announced, model survivors go about their life. This kind of justice is expected.

In fact, the only reason you heard about any of it is because your friend used to be roommates with a model survivor back in college and read a post about it on Facebook.

You’ll think about this story, though, when it happens to you. However, you’ll feel confident and capable because you already know exactly how the whole thing will go.


Model Survivor


Mercedes Lucero is the author of Stereometry (Another New Calligraphy 2018) and the chapbook, In the Garden of Broken Things (Flutter Press 2016). She is the 2017 winner of the Langston Hughes Creative Writing Award for Poetry and her writing can be found in Puerto del Sol, The Pinch, Heavy Feather Review, and Curbside Splendor among others. You can see more of her work at or find her on Twitter @loose_arrow.


(Next: Seven Nights of Longing by Siddhartha Gigoo)

(Previous: Vocab Lessons by Chris Shorne)

Feel like submitting? Check out our submission guidelines


Image: Clarence Alford Pixabay Licence