It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear, and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain. The victim demands action, engagement, and remembering.
Judith Lewis Herman
Growing up in my generation there was a silent rule about children, they were to be seen not heard.
I am not sure how old I was when I first understood death, but I was probably ten years old. I can recall my grandmother and others talking in hush tones about a great uncle. I heard enough to know that they found him in his garage, doors closed, laying under the exhaust. I learned several years later that it was called suicide.
The very first funeral that I ever attended was that for my maternal grandfather in 1975, I was thirteen. I still can see him laying in the coffin. That image made me to never want to see a funeral ever again with an open casket. Why, because that is the last image that you see is the one that you usually remember.
There were too many things that those adults thought a child shouldn’t hear. Well sometimes I needed to hear your voice. Yes, hear it when I was being beat on by my father. When in 2000 sent a message during my mother’s death that he was going to kill me, I couldn’t hear you then either.
Maybe I would have loved to hear your voice after school that you were proud of me getting good grades, only to be asked “can’t you do better”?
How about someone sitting me down to explain why things were happening in my body, why my voice was changing. You know all those things that a young male should be told going into puberty. Oh I hear, your silence led me to have to learn about all that on the streets. Information eventually to be wrong.
I needed your voice to talk with me before I was going to be married. How about what I should expect on the wedding night. Yes, maybe if you would have spoken up I wouldn’t have been so crazy nervous.
Now, about that young man who is being beat upon by a group of thugs, several people watching, but the voice of the bystanders silent where they should have helped or at least called for help.
So many different times where if you would have broken your silence things would have had a different outcome. The woman who is being abused, the child who is being kicked around, the student in the school yard being bullied. Yes, you could have made a difference, but, you just kept silent.
So dear reader those are times when their silence was too loud!