The above is a great work of art by Joe Misrasi depicting the often internal state of those who are abused. The artist does a great job at depicting the darkness, the shame, and the powerlessness experienced by the victim. What’s even more gripping in this picture is the eye peering through the window who sees the darkness and despair felt by the victim but the victim in the picture cowers in order to avoid being seen by the eye as if that’s enough to keep others from seeing the darkness and shame felt. Although the eye sees the victim, and the victim knows her darkness is being seen, she turns her back in order to maintain the status quo of silence, and pretending to be happy. What an emotional and accurate depiction.
Too many families and too many children are wracked by abuse. What’s worse, is that when we’re that eye seeing a victim in darkness or loneliness we also maintain the status quo by remaining silent. A great book entitled Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman points out that there are two sides in instances of abuse and the bystander is forced to take one of them either tacitly or intentionally. In order to take the side of the abuser, all the bystander has to do is nothing. Just continue on normally and stick to their own business saying nothing. To take the side of the victim, it takes courage. It requires them to put their own reputation and their own status quo on the line in order to say ‘I saw something’. When we witness abuse, the abuser is not only exercising abuse and control over the victim, they are also exercising abuse and control over us by tacitly asking us to not do anything…by tacitly telling us that we should not tell anyone what we saw out of fear of the consequences. Why is it that more people don’t choose the latter? Why don’t we see that when we see witness abuse, we are also being abused by being tacitly told by the abuser to protect them by not telling anyone or else face the consequences?
If you or someone you know is a victim of abuse be that eye in the picture but don’t let the victim turn their back, let them know you will be courageous and you will hear them regardless of how silly they think they sound. Listen without judgment and most importantly help the victim to report it to the proper authorities. Often, authorities can’t/don’t do much about it, but you’re helping the victim to stand up for themselves and have a voice – which is the first step in a very long recovery process. It’s best to help them start the recovery process now rather than prolong the pain and shame.