No means no

No means no

Friday, 4 January 2013

Silent all these years

That's the title of a Tori Amos song on her Little Earthquakes CD, released by Amos in 1992 and used to promote the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).  It's a refrain that so many women could sing.  Silent about rape, silent about abuse, silent about unwanted pregnancies, silent about children stolen at birth.

A long time ago, after my Gran had died, my Poppa went into a nursing home.  My mother visited him religiously twice every week and on every holiday.  She got him stuff he needed, she celebrated his birthdays, she cared about him, and would complain to the home if she thought he was being neglected.  Poppa was mum's step-father but he was the only grandfather I knew, and my Gran had a comfortable life with him.  When he died mum told me of a little bit of her history that I had, until then, known nothing about.  

Mum came from an abusive home - I'd heard that whispered but it never seemed a subject open for discussion.  Her father would fly into a rage and start beating her mother.  When it started, mum would grab her epileptic brother and get him the hell out of the house.  Gran finally escaped with mum and my uncle, and began working as a seamstress and housekeeper to feed her family.  After mum married and left home, one housekeeping role was with the man Gran would eventually marry and who would become my Poppa. 

He treated her well and mum always respected him for that so she kept the abusive history from us until after Poppa died, and even then she may not have told me if I wasn't asking questions.  It was part of her life that she had closed off, and she stayed silent for many years.

This sort of thing isn't new, isn't just part of our 21st century world, but what it is, is unacceptable.  Violence against women and children, no matter who by, no matter what the "excuse" should never be tolerated.  In my Gran's day women had virtually no rights, they were chattels, and domestic violence was swept behind the door.  Westernised countries are still gradually moving past that, but there are many, many other countries, cultures and religions throughout the world that have no respect for their women.

We have the ability to change the world - it's not as big as we think.  It will take hard work and a whole lot of time, but there are already hundreds of thousands dragging their own communities in the right direction.

We shouldn't be silent any longer.

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