The arm in this picture tells a powerful story.
Why didn’t you tell? Why didn’t you say something? Let me have a think about it…
I guess the teachers, family therapists, doctors and ICU staff don’t count. Nor do the parents of friends, police officers, Health Dept. It was almost a full-time job as a young person, writing reports and speaking to the relevent agencies. It takes such bravery to speak out in the first place, and to simply keep living after you have been dismissed or threatened for doing so. It took over a decade for someone to finally hear me. It took longer to start the healing process, a journey which is ongoing.
To those not able to speak out when the horror first occurred, I completely understand. These monsters may be in your family, they may employ you, or be in a position of power. To survive, you disassociate. You must, in order to stay alive. You have an out-of-body experience, your brain’s way of coping. Your words catch in the back of your throat, leaving you silent. If you are shouted down by HR, for example, it can take many months to open your mouth again. You have to get your head around filing a statement with the police, knowing that court may await you, bringing with it an opening of your wounds. If the person who committed the vile act is regarded by others as a convivial individual; community-minded and respected, you can feel very alone. There should be no smug questioning of the individual as to why they didn’t come forward sooner. There should only be praise that they did at all. It is so very hard.
This year has seen The Reckoning come to pass. I have waited my whole life for such an event. It has given allowance for those silenced in the shadows to speak, and to heal. I know how it feels to be a girl with a spotlight on her, people ridiculing, turning away and accusing. I know what it feels like to be the arm in the picture, timidly speaking out, but unable to reveal my identity. We have tried to speak out for many years, in many different ways. We have tried to change the culture and what is allowed by powerful individuals. Now is the time of being heard. Within ten years, my daughter will have joined the workforce, and be out there in the world. I am beyond relieved that it will most likely be a workplace with respect as it’s ethos, rather than creeps being able to do whatever they want to whomever they want. I look back at my younger years, and read my medical notes. The amount of times I had frank conversations about what I was enduring is astounding. I tried to tell, but nobody listened. It was all too hard. I am so glad that I survived to witness The Reckoning. It is changing the culture for our children.
One thought on “Why didn’t you Tell?”
Notice how The Reckoning, as you named it, occurred at a time when we now have women in the media in positions of editorial control and in our parliaments, as doctors, lawyers, people of influence and respect where, in the past, there were only men. It is so important for the oppressed to be able to overcome their oppressors and have their voices heard in our parliaments, media and other public discussions – but not only heard, respected and acted upon.
We are all role models for our children. What do we teach our children if we advise them to tell if something bad happens to them and then do nothing? What do we teach our children if we advise them to be strong and vocal while we shrink into the corner in silence? It is true that actions speak louder than words. The next generation learns from our examples.
We are all role models. The Reckoning is just the beginning…