Posts Tagged 'Secrets'

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  But by the time we reached school, we were noted as being withdrawn, studious and a loner.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


Secrets acting as a poison

Two blogs that I read regularly have talked about secrets recently – Secrets over at Kerro’s Korner and Amy in a password protected entry in Waiting my turn in the queue.  Both wrote about being how the seemingly poisonous, insidious way that secrets can eat away at you.  Kerro describes the toxic relationship that can be formed with secrets.  My comment on Amy’s blog was to share five secrets that I have.  Two of these secrets aren’t really secrets at all, namely –

  1. I’m sure I’m faking this whole abuse history and mental health stuff – I’m such a drama queen.
  2. I hurt myself every day and I don’t really care – I deserve it.

Anyone who even half knows me, knows that I believe these two things about myself.  The other three secrets are a not things that I can comfortably share here – yes, secrets have a grip over me.

Part of my abuse was a fairly typical threat about keeping secrets.  But, as a child I was incredibly bad at keeping secrets.  There is a family story that I told the mother that she wouldn’t find the watch she was getting for her birthday in that drawer, it was in the bedside table.  This story has always encouraged me to doubt my abuse history – surely if I was this bad at keeping secrets, I would have told someone what was going on.  But the session a couple of weeks ago with Jo gave a clue as to why this was possible, apparently the young ones within the system have a hierarchy of secrets.  Some secrets weren’t really secret, so you could let the little girl know about those ones – gift location for the mother was amongst that level of secret.  But the other secrets were held by the younger ones created from the abuse, these were the real secrets.  These young ones knew about the importance of secrets, they had been told what would happen if those secrets were told.  They lived with those threats and kept the secrets well hidden.

Insert from Management: The incident with the mother’s watch also taught them how to keep secrets, they learned it was bad to tell.

But how much can those secrets hurt me now, if told?  Jessica Hagy has provided one potential answer in Indexed with her entry about Physics and emotions.  Jessica looked at the relationship between time, distance or pain and the speed or trouble caused.  But for us, this formula doesn’t quite fit.  Our abuse secrets seem to have a different timeframe – I’ve always thought that if you don’t tell about the abuse straight away, then it becomes exponentially more difficult to tell someone as time goes on.  Then there is a breaking point – the coping mechanisms are overwhelmed and the self-destructive pattern reaches a crisis.  This is where in some regards, the ACC system had the benefit of forcing me to tell about some events in order to get coverage for the mental injury.  The problem was that we weren’t ready to share those events, it became more traumatic to talk about it.  We’re still not ready.  The secrets that we have shared with the mother and therapists have always been believed, but this actually scares us more.  Why do people believe us?  It makes no sense.  Sorry the denial comes forward so strongly at times, it all becomes a jumbled mess.

I’m not sure when the grip that the secrets hold over me will ease.  I live in fear of that day, what will it mean for myself and those around me to know what happened?  What possible benefit will come from telling the mother that this is what happened to her little girl?  I don’t plan on pressing charges against anyone.  I’ve already decided that telling the mother everything isn’t an option, she isn’t healthy enough to be able to support me.  So the only benefit is to lance the festering wound that sits in my brain.  One day I will have to convince the young ones that this will help, that we and they are worthy of telling their truth…

Now playing: Missy Higgins – Where I stood
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May 2018
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