It’s Always Been Your Body

What my mother taught me that the Supreme Court never will

Susie Kahlich
6 min readJul 4, 2022


Photo by Aiden Frazier on Unsplash

When I was about eight years old, my mother tucked me into bed one night and told me this story:

When she was about my age (at the time of the story), a man in her small Wisconsin town — a friend of her father’s — took her into the backroom of a local shop and touched her inappropriately. He told my mother that if she shared their encounter with anyone something terrible would happen to her parents.

My mother really loved her parents — in fact, everyone in the town really loved her parents. They were pillars of their their Swedish immigrant community: respected, looked up to, admired and cherished. My mother was understandably terrorized.

She told me that, over the month following since the man had touched her, it became more and more difficult for her to live with the terrible feeling that the man had produced inside of her by touching her; and (perhaps even more difficult), with keeping a secret from her parents, especially her father, to whom she was very close.

Eventually both her mother and her father noticed that she was behaving strangely. They sat her down, and asked her what was going on. She refused to answer for fear of what might happen to them. My grandparents continued to cajole, press, and convince my mother to share what was bothering her, and eventually she did. Not without tears, shaking, and the expected trauma of a child who has been sexually violated.

My mother told me that, once the story was out, her mother held her close. But her father — this pillar of the community, and her favorite person on Earth — put on his hat (this was back in the days when men wore hats) buttoned up his coat, and said “don’t wait up”. And left the house.

My mother told me that her father came back many hours later, when she was already tucked away in bed and fast asleep. She does not know what happened that. But she never saw that man in her town again.

Before I fell asleep that night, my mother went on to tell me the moral of the story. She said: your body is your own. No one can touch it without your permission. No one can tell you what to do with it. No one can force you to harm yourself, or force you…



Susie Kahlich

CEO of SINGE | Founder of Pretty Deadly Self Defense @ | Former producer of art podcast Artipoeus: art you can hear @