Posts Tagged 'Newspaper'

Silence is very loud

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  But by the time we reached school, we were noted as being withdrawn, studious and a loner.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


Why you shouldn’t read newspapers

Today has been one of those last straw days.  It started out fairly normally, the traffic on the way to work was light because the university students are in the middle of exams.  Our cynical friend at work was in a good mood and it was all looking positive.  Then…

Blow 1:  Our cynical friend didn’t come out to morning tea with us all – which is unusual.  When we were walking back to our desk we saw the graphic surgical procedure pictures she was looking at.  They had found a cyst which they are going to operate on.  As if she hasn’t got enough on her plate.

Blow 2:  We’ve been nominated as the union representative for the workplace.  Considering how we don’t like arguments or confrontation, I’ve no idea why they elected us – especially as we refused to volunteer.

Blow 3:  Each website we visited today that had an Ad banner, was advertising the “Death Quiz”.  It invited you to fill in the quiz to find out when you would die.  Considering how suicidal we are at the moment, those subtle messages are not helpful.

Blow 4:  One of the most vivid abuse memories we have is an event that occurred on the grounds of the local kindergarten.  Today in the newspaper feeds, a headline jumped out – that kindergarten had been set on fire.  It started on the couch they kept on the porch.  How the kindergarten is used on the weekend at night as a gathering place for teens was mentioned.  SO and W are triggered so badly.  We were already unsteady, but this has pushed us over.

Blow 5:  We were 3 minutes late for our desk shift because we got caught up in a conversation about a major system upgrade that is happening next week.  Another team leader came up and yelled at us for being late in front of other team members.

It’s now 1am and we’re terrified of trying to sleep.  We know the nightmares will be there.  It’s just one bad day right?  We can do this……….

Now playing: Christina Aguilera – The Voice
via FoxyTunes

Parental abuse – the cruel conflict

Recently a series of articles ran in a New Zealand newspaper called Our lost children.  Usually I don’t pay much heed to newspaper articles – if you’ve seen the news wire snippets before further political and sensationalistic spin is added, you’ll know why.  But Parents’ abuse the cruellest conflict by Ericksen (2008), hit close to home.

Of the thousands of children Barnardos works with who have been abused or seen abuse, about half defend the person responsible for the abuse.

“It’s because they love them – that’s their parent,” said northern region spokeswoman Jenny Corry.

“They are the most difficult to shift in terms of their thinking.”

The other half will withdraw from conversations, afraid that if they speak out they will break up their family and be blamed for it.

As an adult you can see the double bind that these children are facing.  The parent they love is hurting them, but they’re still a “parent” with the loyalty and attachments this concept evokes for the child.  The betrayal that the abuse brings is immense, and has shown to have a lasting impact – in another article within the series, it was stated that the ages 0-3 are critical for the rapidly developing brain.  This is supported and expanded by Watts-English, Fortson, Gibler, Hooper & Bellis (2006), who state that the stress caused by childhood maltreatment can cause a negative effect on the brain and ongoing global functioning.

In very simplistic language – child abuse can hinder the development of the brain.

As a survivor of child abuse I have issues with this – it is implied that not only did those who should have protected me didn’t, but their actions may have impacted on the basic physiology and biology of my brain.  In some ways this is obvious through the disorders that I now exhibit, for example individuals with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have been shown to have a smaller hippocampi than those in control groups (McNally, 2003).  My global functioning has been assessed to be negatively affected by 50-60%.  So there can be little doubt that the abuse has had long term effects on my daily functioning.

Can this damage could ever be reversed?  In the case of the coping mechanisms developed to cope with this abuse, good therapy can assist in returning functioning to a level that allows me to carry out the daily tasks enjoyed by my peers.  But will the potential damage done to my brain ever be reversed?  The answer to this question is beyond my control.  One thing that gives hope is that those who have a hemispherectomy can and do, have a full and productive life.

No matter what the damage has been caused, it is up to the survivor to work with what they have to make the most of the life given.  Making the most of that life can have different meanings to each individual – it could mean being able to get up to face the day; working on therapy as a full-time job; or being employed and working in a therapeutic environment to heal those wounds.

There is always hope.


Eriksen, A., (2008, December 12). Our lost children: Parents’ abuse the cruellest conflict. The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved December 22, 2008, from

McNally, R., (2003). Progress and controversy in the study of posttraumatic stress disorder. Annual Review of Psychology, 54(1), 229-252. Retrieved December 22, 2008, from Academic Search Elite.

Watts-English, T., Fortson, B.L., Gibler, N., Hooper, S., & Bellis, M., (2006). Psychobiology of maltreatment in childhood. Journal of Social Issues, 62(4), 717-736. Retrieved December 22, 2008, from Academic Search Elite doi:10.1111/j.1540-4560.2006.00484.x

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