Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Silence Is The Enemy
~ by Jay

Trigger warning

I receive medical publications every day - journals, leaflets, advertising circulars, newspapers, CME brochures. Most go directly into the recycling; a few land on my overflowing to-be-read pile. Every now and then I pick one up and leaf through it, but I don't have time to stop and actually read - except for that one day in 2005, when this issue (link goes to pdf) of The Medical Encounter showed up and I found myself drawn to the story Roses Don't Cry.
Clenching her teeth, she closed her eyes and told herself she
didn’t have to be afraid. She wasn’t there. She was inside the
wallpaper … another rose, hiding among the roses. Some
other little girl sat on top of him, her wet panties and sundress
laying rumpled on the floor. Not Angel. She wasn’t bad like
him.
What was this vivid description of sexual abuse doing in one of my journals? Why did I have to read this horrifying thing in the middle of my busy morning?

Because silence is the enemy. Silence allows the cycle to continue. Silence is alliance with the perpetrator.

I'm one of the lucky ones. I only have to read about childhood sexual abuse, and occasionally hear about it from my patients. I don't have to remember it, don't have to be reminded of it every time my husband touches me, don't have to wake up at night in the sweat of a flashback dream. I can turn the page or close the exam room door and pretend it doesn't exist. Zuska and Isis don't't have that luxury. Today, they are naming their own experiences to help girls thousands of miles away.

Liberia's civil war is over, but the epidemic of rape continues. Nicholas Kristof wrote ‘it has been easier to get men to relinquish their guns than their sense of sexual entitlement.’ I'm sure millions of people read those words, shook their heads, and turned the page. Sheril Kirshenbaum at The Intersection decided to do something, and this is the "something" - a day of blogging to draw attention to the plight of girls in Liberia, and a month of blog revenues donated to Doctors Without Borders.

These stories are painful to read, and I want to turn away. Sometimes I do. But sometimes I use my luck and my privilege to act as an ally for those who cannot speak and cannot turn away. This is one of those times.

Silence is the enemy.

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