(They said I should whisper if I had to talk at all. They encouraged silence, pleaded for it, bit more than that they begged I at least wouldn't be loud. They said there would be consequences if I was audible, punishments if the volume increased, worse if I shouted.)
So I barely opened my mouth.
"I was an infant when it started. Back then it was only movements a little harsher than necessary, a bitterness directed towards me."
(They said I didn't have enough cognitive ability to feel negative emotions when I was that young.)
"I started to cry more than most children. That was the first signal something was off."
(They said the tears were for attention.)
"Eventually, years later, they found out my mother was beating me. It would have been useless trying to hide it. The scars were everywhere."
(They said that I had no proof, that if I couldn't remember the insults they obviously weren't that hurtful, that facial expressions don't carry any harmful amount of baggage.)
"I was so lucky for all the support I had. The people I needed to see turned a blind eye, but most were really understanding, always there for me. They knew the gravity of the problem and wanted to help."
(They said I was making it up and if it did exist it was something I needed to handle by myself.)
"But it was still so hard. Do you know what it's like to live paranoid for fear of an attack? I never knew when the blows would come or where they would come from. Safety was a foreign notion to me."
(They said I didn't understand my own metaphors.)
"And so all I knew was violence. I responded to everything aggressively or defensively. It wasn't my fault; it was just a learned behavior from an eight-year-old kid. I didn't know otherwise."
(They said I was responsible for my reactions no matter what my age.)
"I tried not to complain, but sometimes I had to. They never admonished me; they were just grateful they didn't have to go through the same things I did."
(They told me I should appreciate the great life I had more.)
"As I grew older things changed a little. It was harder to accept that a sixteen year old male could get beat up daily by his mother."
(They said they had never denied that the abuse had happened; I was just too young for them to explain it to me.)
"At that age, they thought I should be able to defend myself."
(They said how sorry they were that I had no protection.)
"And I finally did. I stood up to her after all those years. At first, instead of getting better, it got worse. They said I needed a team to confront her. They said if I shouted, people would hear. People would do something. So I did! I shouted! And people heard and helped. And twenty years later, I'm still shouting! Because if you shout, young boys and girls will know they can shout too. Anyone with a mouth or ears can take control of the situation. So if you're in a similar position, you have to find a voice. You have to shout."
They told me to whisper.
~shush, little victim, by schlongslipper
"the treatment of emotional abuse vs. physical abuse by society"