SILENCE IS CONSENT no matter what our age or personal circumstances



I was then 26 years old, living in a council tower block. A qualified nurse, married to a handsome man, with two lovely children. An outwardly ideal family. But also an abused wife. I knew what to do, where to go to report, but didn’t do it for ten years of almost weekly Intimate Partner Abuse.



When smothering in my own fears, after yet another beating, I hear the shouting and screaming, knocking and wailing through the thin walls from next door. I would close my ears, turn up my music and try to sleep through the turmoil. The voices in my head and the sound of running feet through the corridor past my window, like ghosts fleeing predators, made sure that sleep did not come.



I did nothing.



Fast forward 50 years. I am now 76 years old, living in the tranquillity of  first world suburbia. Now I stand and look at the children play, their laughter and joy giving me pleasure. But within my mind I am still haunted by memories of



THE LITLE BOY NEXT DOOR



He's just a little boy next door



And I’m an old woman.



I see him. But he doesn’t see me.



I see him walk his dog, talk with his dog



Whispering to it secrets



So no-one can hear



I watch him everyday



I see him play to take his pain away



I can see the shame he carries



I see him walk with his head down



And I know it happened again.



I want to take his blame, iron it out



Smooth it for him



So he won’t trip over ripples of fright.



I want to call to him



I want to say Boy, come here



Let me help you



Let me put salve on your wounds, but



I DO NOTHING.



 



Coz he’s just a little boy next door



And I’m an old woman.



I see him. But he doesn’t see me.



 



That night I hear the screaming



I hear the shouting, I hear the crying



I watch him next morning



His head is down again



Down with shame, carrying the blame.



This time I stand in my door



I call Boy, come to me



But he does not hear me



As he passes



Deep in his world behind heavy glasses, and 



I DO NOTHING.



 



Coz he’s just a little boy next door



And I’m an old woman.



I see him. But he doesn’t see me.



 



Then I see him behind the bush



I watch him sit down



I see him drag from the rag on his face



I see him lie down



To try to sleep his pain away



Then the night comes



And I hear her shout his pain



I hear her pleading



And as the two of them run out



Out into the night



Renting the darkness apart



With the sharpness of their fright.



I stand by and watch.



I peep through my lace curtain. But still



I DO NOTHING.



 



Now I hang my head in shame



I must carry the blame



For a little boy next door



Who wets his bed at night



Who is giving up the fight in nightmares



Sniffing stuff behind a bush



To block out the light for darkness



I must take the blame



For doing nothing



For a little boy next door



 



Coz I’m an old woman.



I see him



Even if he doesn’t see me.



I must take the blame



For still



I'M DOING NOTHING



 



That was then. Now I am that old woman, but a changed old woman. Now I shall do something, say something, for my silence shall no longer intensify my neighbour’s suffering.



Monica 26 then. 76 Now.

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