Sultana's Dream

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Sultana's Dream
April 2012

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The Unbearable Burden of Silence

Where my mother comes from, things like rape or sexual abuse are not discussed. Girls who are subjected to this are told to bear it in silence to avoid the shame of it, to avoid peopleís whispers. Most importantly, we are silenced to protect our reputations. My mother has always told me that a girlís reputation determines her worth in the eyes of others, and rape brings shame on the victim more than the rapist. As a 22-year-old born and raised in a Western country, I do not share her views. At 13, I became a victim of such abuse at the hands of her second husband. When I told my mother, she cried and screamed at him, but otherwise did nothing. She stayed married to him for another two years. For six years, she kept pretending that I had never told her; then she told me that silence was for my own good; that if anyone found out, the community would shun me and I would never get a husband. This infuriated me, and still does. It took me years to stop believing that I was dirty. The older I get, the more I understand her reasoning, and the more I disagree and despise it. We never really resolved the issue, mostly because I refuse to discuss it with her. Iíve yet to report it to police, though I hope anyone else in that situation would do so. No good comes out of silence, despite what our mothers believe.

(Name supplied)

Confidential Counselling and Information Service:
1800 RESPECT: National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line is for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault.

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