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The Destructive Culture Of Silence

ASHLEY THABA
Today I want to address an elephant in the room.

It is the silence that we have somehow glorified and normalized. It is the secrets we are made to carry…sometimes to our graves. This past week I heard of two disturbing examples of this cultural norm which is destroying us.

A good friend was assaulted by a stranger in broad daylight. Naturally, knowing her rights and feeling the throbbing pain in her throat from where he hit her so hard that she saw stars, she reported the matter to the police immediately. Thankfully, with a new culture of the police taking Gender Based Violence cases seriously, he was arrested and spent a night in jail. Sadly, the story took a turn that many others take. When influential people in her life got wind of the story, she was advised to drop charges. Because of her position, it didn’t serve a workplace agenda.

The story might be spun in a bad light and might taint the reputation of the organization she works for. Better to keep it hush hush and pretend it never happened. The man got away with it and the woman has now been chastised for trying to bring the horrible incident to light.

Despite the fact that she wanted to speak out, her voice was muffled along with the thousands before her who were bold enough to try and tell a relative, a boss, or anyone who would listen. Only to be told, “KEEP QUIET!” Sadly, the second woman I heard about who became another victim of Gender Based Violence will not ever have the opportunity to share her secret.

She literally took it to her grave as she died at the hands of an angry jealous lover. Admittedly, I don’t know the second story. She was a friend of a close friend. However, from a purely speculative standpoint, I highly doubt the first fight this couple had ended in murder. My suspicion is early on in the relationship, this man’s violent side reared its head in fits of rage. Perhaps she told someone and they said, “that is just how men are.” Maybe, she was told, “He has a good job and can give you financial security. Just be patient. Things will get better.” Maybe she never spoke about it because maybe she saw men in her life doing this to relatives and thought it was normal. I don’t know and she is no longer around to ask. My point is this.

We MUST give our friends, our sisters, our daughters, and our work colleagues a voice. We MUST not continue to glorify silence as a cultural norm. The cost is too high. People suffer too much emotionally. While having to put on a smile externally, internally, they are dying… some physically… some emotionally… but their

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light is fading as they carry dark secrets and are told it would embarrass the family to speak out. It wouldn’t make our work place look good if you said that out loud. You might cost that person a promotion if the truth came out about his real character. The abused, generally a woman but also quite possibly an abused man as well, is left to suffer in silence and put the mask of “everything is okay” on his or her face and go about her life. What does the Bible say about this? “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth”. 1 John 1:5-6 “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”. John 8:32 Verbalizing a hidden truth takes an enslaved person who has been living behind invisible bars pent up in a prison of silence and gives them the key to the door to walk into the light and feel freedom. To speak openly about what happens in the darkness takes a heavy weight off the conscience of the abused. It is sloppy. It is messy. There are consequences for sure – some positive and some negative.

But the alternative – taking your dark secrets to your grave and living your life one way in the light and another in the dark is even more painful I believe. I do a lot of counseling and sometimes the most healing thing for a person is not to feel alone. To feel like someone is supporting them. To speak the unspeakable and no longer carry that burden alone. To feel hope that maybe, now that others know, suffering in silence is no longer an option and someone stronger than you can help the abuser to STOP and get help. As the Bible says, the TRUTH WILL SET US FREE. Might we be bold enough to use that tool to come out of darkness as a nation.

Might we trust God enough to CHOOSE light over darkness. It won’t be easy, but I believe it is worth it.

Ashley Thaba is a popular motivational speaker, team building facilitator, author and the Producer of a hit TV show offering practical advice to strengthen families and improve marriages! Episodes of her show can be downloaded from her website – www.ashleythaba.com.You can view some of her work on her YouTube channel: Ashley Thaba. You can buy three of her books, Dive In, Making Marriages Fun, and Conquering the Giants, on her website. You can email her at askthaba@gmail.com or follow her on Facebook at: Talking with the Thabas



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