Simon and Garfunkel sang, “Hello darkness my old friend… within the sounds of silence”


Silence has been, since the dawn of time, a luxury for predators. It has been their friend. Within the protective walls of silence, they allowed their basest desires unbridled freedom. They touched children in private places that were designed to be discovered by brides and bridegrooms. They stirred areas in the brains of children that were never meant to be stimulated until they were grown. They pretended to befriend vulnerable children in locker rooms, summer camps, homes, schools, churches and wherever trusting parents took their little ones.

But hardly anyone ever told. My mother was 94 years old before she told me she had been raped as a four-year-old child. Not even my father knew in all their 60 years of marriage.

Until recent years, victims didn’t tell about abuse for a variety of reasons. Most felt so defiled that they felt they bore – or at least shared – the shame of the experience. Some were instructed that, if they told, their families would be harmed, or love would be withdrawn from them, or… on and on with a myriad of locks slammed shut by predators.

And so victims suffered in silence with flashbacks of unspeakable things being done to them, nightmares and blockages from living normal, healthy lives, always feeling ‘different’ from others.

But the song continues:

“Fools”, said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you…”

A number of years ago, we heard a small voice saying, “I was abused when I was a child…” It was a tentative voice, breaking the silence like drill making the first hole in veneer. It was joined by another voice, “It happened to me, too…” and another voice… The voices became louder and the bearers became stronger. Their knees stopped shaking and their chins quivered less, as society enfolded them with assurances that they bore no shame.

What a revelation! What relief! Suddenly, they discovered that the shame, which had so unjustly burdened them, belonged to the predators – not to them! The threats of harm had been, in most cases, smoke and mirrors, whose only reality lay in their ability to immobilize victims in fear.

Thanks to the gathering swell of voices, it’s manly to expose the abuse suffered as a child. It’s empowering for women to step out of the silence that held them captive.

Today’s newspaper shared the story of the Toronto Blue Jay’s R.A. Dickey, one of today’s top athletes in baseball. He’s written a memoir entitled, “Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball.” It exposes the sexual abuse and sometimes overwhelming struggles of his journey.

Because of the voices that have gone before his, preparing the way for acceptance and understanding, Dickey was able to write an authentic story of his faith and path to victory over victimization.

The last verse of the song reads, “‘The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls’
And whispered in the sounds of silence.”

Truth will always come out. This tide of revelation is not going to stop. It has gathered momentum with a surge of hope for freedom from shame. The breakers of truth are smashing against the protective walls of silence and shattering old expectations of safety for predators.

If you are a predator, it is time for your knees to shake and your chin to quiver – because silence has ended.

© Diane Roblin-Lee Apr. 15, 2013
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