Why I chose to remain silent


Domestic abuse

[Editor’s note: This editorial is a submission to the Chaminade Newspress from a CUH student who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the topic.]

We both played sports in high school and during my junior year, we joined the same sport. One day after practice, we got into an argument. School had ended hours ago and we were fighting and screaming in the hallways. It all happened quickly, but I remember grabbing his arm to calm him down. His initial reaction was to shove me away. His hands pushed against my chest over and over again. I remember trying to get ahold of him again and then some sort of sharp pain. I remember being faced down on the ground, bleeding from my bottom lip.

At practice the next day I had to explain to the coaches that I had bit my lip during yesterday’s practice. Deep down, they knew what really happened. I remember them asking me if he did that. I fought back the tears. In that moment, I denied it all and returned to practice.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Abuse, one in three women fall victim of abuse by an intimate partner. I am choosing to speak up now because I have realized that I can’t remain silent. Abuse is happens. I can’t keep fighting my battles alone because remaining silent doesn’t make it them go away.

I was once told that the reason why I stayed with him for so long was because I had become too dependent on him, that people like me fail to be strong enough to leave on their own. The person who told me this was the first person I chose to open up to.

During my toxic relationship, I chose to remain silent and I chose to keep it to myself. Over time, I pieced together why I did what I did. I felt as though part of me grew too ashamed to admit to it and another part of me wanted to protect him from people knowing the truth. I couldn’t bring myself to just throw him under the bus no matter how much he deserved it. We were young and in high school, and he was my first “I love you.”

I remember fighting a lot. I remember fighting so often and so badly that I would cry at school and hide behind the buildings so that no one would see. I often missed my marine biology class because I would rather skip class than walk in late and look like I had been crying. The last thing I wanted and needed was for someone to ask me, “Are you OK?” There would have been two options at that point, smile and lie or ignore and remain silent. Speaking the truth in that moment was not a choice for me.

Silence came in many forms. After every fight, I had to pretend like it didn’t happen. I had to wash my face, reapply my make-up, and smile. I had to pretend that everything was fine, pretend that it wasn’t killing me. None of my friends knew. None of my family really knew the whole story.

The thing about abusive relationships is that people fail to realize that in some sick way, love and fear can be intertwined. I loved him so much that I feared for what he would do if I had decided to leave. Day after day, I chose him over myself.

Remaining silent is more than avoiding the “are you OK?” questions. It is blaming your bruising on accidents you caused yourself. It is crying in the shower, where no one can hear you. It is putting them before you, when you really need to choose yourself.  

When all the red markings from the shoving and pushing fade away, did he really put his hands on you? When he calls you “a whore and “a bitch,” and no one else is around to hear, did he really call you that? When no one knows that it’s killing you, are you really dying? Yes you are.

For anyone in the same dilemma I was once in, speak up. I promise it will be worth it. Three years later, I regret my decision to stay silent. Three years later, and I’m still broken in places where I have accepted that I need more than just time to heal. I learned that when you remain silent, you choose to fight the battle alone, and sometimes you just can’t win on your own.

The saddest part of it all, and the part that really kills me to this day, is that he’s happy. I will never wish bad upon him, but it really kills me that he can be happy when he doesn’t deserve to be. He can be happy because no one knows who he is, or maybe was, behind closed doors. That’s my fault, and I carry that with me to this day. No one knows because I chose not to tell.

I have become better and more open to talk about it. I contemplated for a while about whether or not I could push myself to write this article. My story is ready to be told, but I will remain anonymous because I am not ready to openly tell it.

I have accepted that I will never be the same person I was three years ago, but I also know I am a stronger person in return. There will always be people who will never understand, or always question why I chose to remain silent. Sometimes words cannot explain silence.

I was stuck in an endless cycle of instability and a constant doubt of self worth. We were together for 473 days. I was mentally, physically, and emotionally tortured during the relationship and during the aftermath. It was a time where my voice began to lose its value, where, “I love you” wasn’t enough to save me, and “no” wasn’t enough to stop him.

I chose to remain silent for a long time. Now, I am choosing to speak up. 


The National Domestic Violence Hotline

1-800-799-SAFE (7233)