Silence is the greatest enabler of abuse.

I lived in silence for many years and no one heard me roar. This is an account of one such a day.

As I walk the corridor of the hospital ward I am nursing on, I think I glimpse him in the distance. He turns the corner and is gone. A sharp pain of fright travels up my neck and explodes inside my head. My heart begins to beat so fast it leaves me breathless. I break into a cold sweat, as I make my way down the corridor. The nearer I get to the corner the sicker my stomach feels. Is he here? 

He is my stalker. A man twenty years my senior, who stole my teenage years. Now that I am older and stronger he has become frantic. On discovering I have a boyfriend he seems to have become unhinged, his behaviour even more bizarre than before. He is consumed by jealousy and hate and I fear what he might do.9 Crimes

Arriving at the corner I peep around. There is no one there. The lift doors are closed. Had my imagination played tricks on me? My heart begins to return to normal rhythm, and my fear fades.

I turn and walk back to my duties looking after the patients in my care on the ward. There are dressings to be changed, stitches removed, and various other nursing tasks undertaken, but I am shaken, distracted. Outwardly I smile and chat, putting patients at ease and laughing with fellow nurses, but inside a very different conversation is taking place. “What if it was him?”. “Was he getting bolder?”. “Was he coming to kill me?”. 

The day passes with no more sightings. My body remains on high alert as I walk the corridors, or emerge from behind bedside curtains. Visiting time is particularly stressful, as I scan the face of every man who enters the ward.

Yet all this time I never tell a soul. There are twelve nurses working this shift with me, and many more besides, such as doctors, cleaners and kitchen staff. Help is at hand, but I cannot ask for it. This is my secret going back nearly ten years. Locked away deep inside me, this silence has been a part of my life for so long that I no longer have the words to speak of it. It has become a part of what I am. It is not for sharing.

As the day ends I walk with my fellow nurses out the front door of the hospital. To the passing eye we are a group of noisy young student nurses, finished for the day. But if anyone looked closer they might observe that one member of the group speaks as loud as the others, but is ever watchful. While chatting and joking she remains on high alert, ever watchful, even turning on occasions to check if anyone is following.

As we reach the bottom of the steps I quickly scan the car park and fear returns. There he is, sitting in his car, parked where he can clearly see mine.photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/stuant63/2255781557/">stuant63</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">cc</a>

Quickly under false pretenses I excuse myself and run back inside. An underground passageway links the hospital to the nurses home. He knows what time my shift finishes. I run along the poorly lit, empty passageway, all the time silently screaming. “How much more of this can I take?”.  When I arrive at the nurses home I know once again I will have to abandon my car and bus it home.

As I make my way, ever watchful, to the bus stop I wonder once more if I imagined seeing him on the ward? But with a sick feeling in my stomach I know I did not. His stalking behaviour is escalating. I wait for what seems a lifetime for the bus, hoping he does not drive by. On this occasion I am lucky.

I take my seat, relieved to be safe. With an enormous sigh of relief, I close my eyes, sit back and wonder will this ever end?

photo credit: stuant63 via photopin cc

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46 thoughts on “Silence is the greatest enabler of abuse.

    1. Thank you. Events took their course and he eventually had to run from the jurisdiction. Twenty years later I am comfortable speaking out, and in a very happy place.

  1. So powerfully written Tric. It’s so sad you had to carry all this terror on your own. Your writing is testament to the strength you have found deep inside yourself to heal the wounds inflicted by this horrible man. A great example to any readers who have – or are, going through something similar xxxx

    1. Thanks so much Helen. I have definitely put it behind me. Friends and family got me through, and the fact he had to leave the country. That definitely helped!

  2. I can’t “like” this post. But what I do like is that you wrote it. You are stronger than him. You are living a full life. And I like the power I read in you. Silent no more. Damn straight Tric.

    1. Thanks coleen. I have hovered for hours over publishing this one. I don’t know why and I have not shared it as of yet on facebook. Strange what we don’t want to make common knowledge.

      1. I know. I have so much I ‘could’ write. But don’t. Not because of me. But because of others and their difficulty in processing or accepting. Or whatever.

        Good for you for writing it. Did you feel a ton lighter after doing so?

        1. In the past when I have written something and not felt better I always recognized that it was because I didn’t write fully what I wanted to write. I held back for some reason or another. And that left me still wanting to get rid of something, or shout something, or just be done with something. Just some ideas on why it might affect me like that.

        2. Yes oh wise one! I have not shared this with my family and friends. They have no idea what went on after the abuse and I was and am comfortable with that, but in a way that is continuing to make it a secret and I am not happy with that. I still don’t think I’ll revisit it with them even though I’m sure they’d be supportive.

        3. Ha, wise….snorting here.

          But yeah, I totally get what you mean. That’s so familiar to me. And I recognize I make a choice by not sharing things. And the funny feelings left behind are as a result. And I’m okay with that as well.

  3. This man stole your time and wore you down for too long. I hope he got what he deserved, and that he’s a long way away from you physically, even if this great piece of writing is proof that he has a place in your mind. Maybe writing it down (it’s the first time you’ve really spoken about this as far as I remember) will empty that chair in the corner of your mind. Hugs xx

    1. Thanks MM. I struggled, not to write this, but to publish. I’m not sure why. Yes it is the first time I’ve written about this latter part of my darker days, but I’m not sure why I’m still holding it as a secret. I didn’t know it was taking up so much room in my mind. Thanks for the hugs.

  4. This silence is a fear I have for my son. That he won’t speak up if anything (heaven forbid) SHOULD happen. Can I ask you, as a survivor looking back, is there anything that would have helped you to speak up? What was the trigger that enabled you to speak up? Is there anything ANYTHING I can do to build it into the life I have with my son?

    1. Without frightening my children I have always taught them to be comfortable saying no. No to a kiss, a hug or a tickle. No to anyone. We also discussed feelings of embarrassment and love. I do not think we can be there at all times to keep our children safe we must arm them in case something happens.
      I also try to remember to never ever react like I would like to, if my child tells me anything. It could be about getting into trouble in school or elsewhere or being upset about something. In those cases I stay calm and speak quietly in the hope they would never fear my reaction if they really had to tell me something. The trigger that enabled me to act was complicated but I will say, it would have been much much easier to stay silent. Coping with others feelings on what had happened was a nightmare.
      Educate yourself and then your son. That is the best way to keep him safe. I did a post “It couldn’t happen to my child” which had two good references at the end if you want to check it out. https://mythoughtsonapage.com/2013/04/15/it-could-not-happen-to-my-child/

  5. Tric this was very very moving. I am glad you survived this. I live in fear of this happening to my daughter as I heard so many stories growing up and saw so much that my parents couldn’t protect me from because I just wasn’t comfortable speaking to them about anything. Nothing at all compared to what you went through and you are a true survivor.

    1. I had a great mom and dad and a very close family, but I didn’t have the understanding to know what to do and how to speak out. This was a man very well known to my family, someone they trusted. You hit the nail on the head when you said you weren’t comfortable speaking to your parents. We live in different times now and it is important to discuss the possibility of this happening in a very relaxed way with your daughter, and what your daughter might do if it did. Thanks Muuka.

  6. Congratulations for you on your bravery and not only discovering but using your voice to effectively break the silence that does not help anyone but those who abuse and stalk. It is a great strain to house a secret, any form of secret but in particular the one that burdened you. Powerful entry, thank you for sharing.

    1. Thanks so much for reading. The abuse is no longer a secret but I have not told many about the stalking which went on for many years. Maybe I will but he is long gone out of my life and I prefer to look forward.

  7. i am so sorry you had to endure all of this. and happy you were finally able to tell your story. you are a strong survivor, tric. with every word you write of this, you help someone else.

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