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


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



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 



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



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



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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