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Unveiling the Violence of Being Silenced

Being silenced by a perpetrator can be considered a form of violence causing great psychological and emotional harm although it is not legally categorized as a crime in the traditional sense. With a focus on physical, sexual, and overt abuse the profound impact of being silenced can become overlooked yet the impact is profound. Abusers employ tactics like manipulation, threats, and intimidation to intentionally keep victims silent, causing lasting and recurrent trauma. This perpetuates a destructive cycle, allowing the cycle of abuse to continue for future generations.  Suppressing a person’s voice is a violation of basic human rights and freedom. The terror that abusers instill denies and restricts freedom and is a tool that is used to maintain power and control that perpetuates oppression. As an advocate for myself and others one of my passions is to be a voice for the voiceless and speak up for those who can’t yet speak for themselves and encourage survivors to find and use their voice. As part of the solution we need to first recognize the significance of this powerful form of violence and the harm that is done to be able to create environments that promote empowerment and recovery.   Being silenced profoundly impacts a person's ability to make decisions for themselves and to have control over their own life. When your voice is suppressed, your thoughts dismissed, and your experiences invalidated it’s like being confined to a small, dark room where your perspective and feelings are not acknowledged, validated or respected. In abusive or toxic relationships or situations where silence is enforced, individuals lose the power to shape their own narrative. It's like having the pen taken away in the story of one’s life and their own unique experiences and perspectives are erased, resulting in a story that may not reflect the true essence of who they are.This dynamic robs them of the authority to define their own reality and make choices that align with their own needs, desires, and values. 

Numerous survivors have an underlying belief that their needs hold little significance  rooted in feelings of worthlessness along with the belief that they don’t matter. This challenge extends beyond vocalizing needs to a disconnection from their fundamental requirements. Many do not give themselves what they need much less be able to ask for what they need. This adds to the difficulty in finding their voice. 

When someone is constantly silenced by a perpetrator (sometimes long after they have died) the survivor may find it challenging to express their opinions, set boundaries, or assert themselves. They may feel compelled to conform to the wishes of the person who is enforcing their silence constraining their decision-making. In essence, being silenced strips the survivor of their own individual agency or autonomy, leaving them with diminished control over their own life which greatly limits their potential. The dynamics can create a sense of dependency, where individuals may start relying on others to define their worth or have difficulty making decisions on their own behalf. This loss of personal authority can have long-lasting effects on self-esteem and erodes their ability to live their life with confidence in themselves or their capabilities. 

Perpetrators use acts of intimidation and threats to silence their victims, aiming to assert power and control over those they victimize. This involves consistent discrimination, mistreatment, and dominance as a tool to suppress their voices. Acts of intimidation and threats mirror the tactics used in terrorism, employing the same efforts that are used to instill fear over an entire population by exerting control. Denying someone the right to speak out against their abuse or injustice is in itself an act of injustice preventing the victim from seeking and getting help and to keep the abuser from being exposed and/or being responsible for their actions or be prosecuted. Threats of what will happen if the survivor talks about what has happened coupled with the fear of societal responses can reinforce the belief that staying silent would be a better option. When survivors do summon up the courage to break their silence and share their experience they may encounter skepticism, disbelief, or victim-blaming, in a culture that sometimes places the burden of proof on the survivor rather than holding perpetrators accountable. When sharing for the first time some are not believed or asked what they did to cause the abuse or be told “Why didn’t you tell someone sooner?” These kinds of reactions and statements inadvertently places responsibility on the survivor rather than that perpetrator. It’s unfortunate that many survivors are not met with someone acknowledging the courage it takes for them to disclose their abuse or voice their feelings to someone.  Therapists and other support people and institutions that are trauma informed need to recognize the complexities survivors face and foster a safe environment that encourages empathy, support, and a commitment to the survivor to empower them to reclaim their voices and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.

Grooming a victim to be silent censors their voice and takes away their right to seek help. In losing their voice they lose themselves and the ability to be all who God created them to be.  

Some survivors choose silence to maintain a semblance of peace, out of fear of potential repercussions. Avoiding conflict for immediate tranquility may seem beneficial temporarily but becomes a form of ongoing self punishment, perpetuating the cycle of silence leading to further oppression leaving them vulnerable, isolated, and burdened by the weight of their unspoken pain, creating a profound sense of loneliness.

Experiencing violence and abuse often leads to profound trust issues, making it challenging to navigate healthy relationships. In adulthood, some individuals may stay in abusive situations due to fear of loneliness or the belief that no one else would want them or fearing they will trigger a violent reaction by speaking out. This silence can be paralyzing, robbing us of our voice and eroding confidence in ourselves and others and the ability to trust ourselves or to look within or identify our emotions. Yet, there is hope. Rebuilding trust begins with finding our voice, a process that fosters confidence and allows us to reconnect with our emotions, and our gut instincts that our abuse disconnected us from. 

Seek safe supportive people to connect with, knowing that you are not alone in this journey.  Reclaim your voice by acknowledging and identifying your emotions allowing yourself to feel. I know mine had grown so numb that it was similar to a process of ice melting and thawing out; not that my heart had grown cold but that I had done so much to hide my heart protect myself from further hurt. I had to hide me. It took awhile to find my emotions and to find me.  Some of the things I did was lots of therapy, group discussions with survivors, journaling, poetry, and creative outlets. I discovered my voice through spoken word poetry, creating online content, and building a platform on this website to share my experiences in my blog, on my podcast by sharing my story but also providing resources for fellow survivors and professionals dealing with issues like ritual abuse and mind control, as well as sex trafficking. There is strength in reclaiming yourself, sharing your story and much healing when connecting with a supportive community.  

Violence may have taken your voice, but you can take it back. Dismantling barriers to finding your voice is a powerful step in breaking free from the cycle of violence and escaping oppression and having true recovery. Your voice is a pathway to justice, enabling you to reclaim your story, confront past experiences, and seek acknowledgment and support in healing and advocating for yourself against further abuse. This journey you are on is a profound declaration of reclaiming your identity and taking back your power and your voice that was stolen from you. Your story matters. You matter.  You are not alone.  Embrace the strength within you. You have the strength to break free and to be silent no more. If your voice held no power they wouldn’t have done all that they did to silence you!  With each word you write, each whisper, each shout, each step you take towards connecting with yourself and sharing your story with safe supportive people, embrace the process as you weave the threads of your life into the tapestry of your being and mend the fabric of your soul. You become the person God created you to be but stronger and more resilient. You are worth all the effort it takes to speak because profound healing and hope awaits when you do. You are a testament to the vibrant masterpiece that you are. 

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