Can you hear silence?
An odd question perhaps but the idea for that question came to me several days ago. I was in a restaurant that I go to often. The woman who waited on our table that day was one of the owners. Over time we, my wife and I and the woman have become casual friends. I have met her husband who we frequently see at the restaurant also. As she came to the table with our menus I noticed she had a black eye and a cut with several stitches over her eyebrow. Immediately the flags came up and I asked her, “Are you okay?” There must have been something in my tone of voice that told her I was not just asking the normal how’s your day going kind of question. She quickly responded with, “Oh, you mean this”, pointing to her eye. I said, “Yes, is everything all right?” After telling me how she hit her head on a doorway playing with her dog, a rather large Husky/Shepard mix she said “You didn’t think…” leaving the question unfinished.
My response was “I had to ask.” Right after I said that I realized I had reached a turning point in my life. I have responded to several posts including on this blog that the abusers in this world count on being anonymous. They count on the rest of the world to turn away, to not become involved. They know that most people would prefer to just “stay out of it”. They know that most people prefer to remain silent. Abusers love the dark, the hidden, the silence.
I asked the question “Can you hear silence.” In the case of abuse it has sound. Silence sounds like the thump of a body slammed against the wall. Silence has the sound a hand slapping a face. Silence has the sound of bone against bone and bones breaking. Silence has the sound of a little child yelling, screaming “Stop hurting my Mommy!” Silence is the sound of a person quietly crying in a dark corner, very quietly lest the abuser will hear it and start another round. Silence is the almost imperceptible sound of a tear hitting the floor.
The silence I refer to is NOT the sound of the abuse. It is the sound of those who know of it and say nothing. It is the sound of those who say “It’s her fault for putting up with it”. It is the sound of people who mumble, “Tsk, Tsk, what is the world coming to?” Silence is the sound of those who are afraid to say something because they might be embarrassed if they are wrong. Silence is the sound of a man (if you can call him that) who says to himself, “That’s between him and her, none of my business.” Silence is the sound of a woman thinking she’s glad it’s someone else, not her.
Yes, I realized I had reached a turning point. I can be silent no longer.
I’ve seen what you refuse to.
I had to ask.