As a note of warning, this entry could be triggering. No event is described, but abuse is mentioned.
If you have silence in communities, I think that silence is very loud.
(Rebombo as cited in Jecks, 2009)
This quote is from Dumisani Rebombo, a man who admits to raping a young woman in his village. He was talking about how silence within the community, enables South Africa to continually have appallingly high rape statistics. But I think that this quote is easily transferred to almost every situation where abuse goes unreported or hidden. Someone is keeping the silence, someone is benefiting from that silence and someone is suffering within that silence. Through tacit consent areas within society allow abuse to occur. In New Zealand, the most obvious case of this was the death of Nia Glassie. Neighbours and family members admitted during the trial, to seeing Nia being subjected to the horrific abuse. But, they never reported any of this abuse to the authorities until after her death. The silence around Nia was deafeningly loud.
The secrets that the dissociative system keep are another form of this type of silence. I often wonder when we learned to keep the silence. As a newborn until about six months old we screamed whenever put down for a nap, so we obviously didn’t come into this world silent. We were the only one of the four children that was a Plunket baby – monitored for health, well-being and development. According to our Plunket book, we were a healthy, happy, alert and curious baby. But by the time we reached school, we were noted as being withdrawn, studious and a loner. The changes in our behaviour may well be nothing of consequence, but in the context of Katie being three (nearly four), it raises questions. It is this documented change that I struggle with the most. Why were there no questions asked? Why didn’t anyone see the changes? I know that there are now no answers for these questions, but it feels like we were subjected to abuse and an associated tacit consent from before the age of four. This consent meant that for the next 30 years, it felt as if we didn’t have any control over our life. This statement is obviously not true in the strictest meaning of the words – we went to University, got a job, moved away from the home town etc. But none of those decisions seemed to have been made consciously, it was about meeting expectations of those around us and keeping busy – must always keep busy…
The one other area of our life where the quote from Rebombo fits, is the silent anger that the father exhibited. I’ve mentioned the father’s brooding, silent anger briefly several times in this blog. One day I might be able to write about it in more depth – not his anger, but the effects that it had. Today isn’t that day, but if I keep mentioning it in little snippets, then it becomes less scary to talk and think about. Well, that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it :)
Jecks, N. (2009, July 29). Tackling South Africa’s rape epidemic. BBC News. Retrieved August 1, 2009, from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8171874.stm