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“Do not talk about it. It is private,” he said as he hit me.

I resisted but remained silent. I had heard similar lines before too.

“Don’t tell anyone. It is our secret,” as he forced me to abide.

It was all the same. Through multiple channels, I was taught to remain silent. My mind inertly quietened the problems, calmed my heart and went on with life. No one should know how messed up your life really is. The words changed forms but the sentiment stayed the same. I was to not speak. I mustn’t come forward.

Even after years of education, reading and cultivating a sense of life, my silence continued. It was to save me from the harsh glares of the judgmental folk. It was to shield me from being considered pointless. It was my only layer of protection, my mask.

In 78 years of my life, I never voiced my pain. I grew to be my own comforter. I found that no one around me urged me to speak. No one said that if I raised my voice, I would be safe; that I must fight and if I did, I would win.

They were afraid and unconvinced. They hesitated and my pain stayed hidden.

Today, I stop. My silence did not protect me. Your silence will not protect you.