Breaking The Silence

Womanhood | By Sophia Chitemere, Graphic Designer / Model | 08 May 2015

Many people say silence is golden; well, I am not many people. Always forcing yourself, to be silent because of fear? The fear of being judged - the fear of people taking you out of context. We often die in silence because we don’t know how to express ourselves well enough for people to understand us. We now live in a society and generation where a lot happens behind closed doors, hidden away from the world. Only to be mentioned when it’s too late; when all the unnecessary damage has been done.

I am a true example of someone who has been living in silence; in some occasions, lest my silent loudness in this piece fool you, I still am. Where do I start? What do I say? To whom? Do they even care enough to listen to me? My response to this all the time is, “Why bother... let me keep quiet.” I died in silence, faded deep into it, when my parents separated. Literally went from riches to rags and rage. The only thing that stood out, that I held on to, was the fact that I still went to a private school and still had those fancy clothes. I questioned. I complained about any and everything. Eventually I learnt to ‘be grateful for the little that you have.’
Seeing my mother try to make ends meet was a painful experience, one that led me to look for a job to do every weekend at the young age of 10. I died in silence, faded deep into its abyss, the last day I saw my father and mother alive. What do you say? Where do you start? My parents were the most powerful people I knew, and seeing them defeated and helpless was, and still is, something so new and unreal to me. I died in silence, disappeared without a trace within it, when I was in a relationship; thinking ‘I’m in love’, yet emotionally abused and called names by the person that claimed to love me. The one person I thought to be my fountain of trust. Some, maybe even much, of what I speak forth today may apply to you. It may have applied to some of you. How do you deal with it?
Do you say, I will miss you? Did you say I love you? I hate you for treating me so badly?

It’s only human; that sometimes we’re unable to express ourselves and when the opportunity to speak out goes, it can never come back... And we now live with regret that we should’ve done this, should’ve said that.
These life lessons happen on a daily basis, in so many negative ways. We have rape cases happening right under our noses. Some of these oppressed women do not explicitly show, through speech or action, what trauma they bear. That’s when we feel most alone, having to keep such a thing to ourselves, to brave it on our own. Young girls are being forced into marriage every darn day. We seem to think its ancient history, but it still happens today.

Having the right to say no, and saying no, knowing that you can and should say no, are altogether different concepts. Enter respectability politics. When girls feel like they are disrespecting their parents and relatives by saying no. When they are explicitly told so. When violence comes into the picture and still it is more respectable for a woman to be beaten up in silence than for her to fight for her dignity. When her child is taken from her, and society - the same society that breaks her calls her broken. Unfit mother.

When a woman reports such incidences, only to get threatened: ‘I’ll look for you and kill you with my bare hands,’ he says. She can now only sleep next to this monster, every day, knowing now that she only thought she loved him enough to wait for death to part them. Now she lives only by being afraid for her life. As for the reporting the matter? Hahaha! That’s a verbatim report of what the police report reads like the next morning. How then can women come out and state or speak openly and honestly about their fear or about their health condition? When something like breast cancer or HIV/ AIDS is brought up into the conversation? They die in silence, and entrench their crushed bones in it because nobody cares; they feel it, at least, as much as it is possible to feel a lack of care. So they do not share, and even less people care.
Women like these simply have nowhere to turn. So when you are done reading this, I want you to do or say what you mean. To express what you’re going through. Those who truly care will help you and guide you through it all. Even though you may feel like a burden to someone, you can never know where your breakthrough help comes from or where that helping hand may come from. Life is too short to hide away your feelings and pain. Life is too precious to take those moments for granted.