Who does silence protect?

My experiences: the status of allegations. Another way that women’s voices are undermined, women’s accounts treated as only half truths, as suspect.

My violations: repeated, and repeated and repeated. Held up to scrutiny. Challenged. The burden of proving that it exists, again and again, placed on me. I’m reminded of Marilyn Frye: “I was the one on whom the burden of proof fell — it was I who had to explain and convince.”

My accounts, finally taken seriously, and then gagged. What had happened to me could be libelous if I was articulate about it. Gagged, to protect a man I had no interest in protecting, to save his reputation. Gagged, so he could spread lies, so my friends and colleagues could conjecture fantastically, believing everything but what was evident, just before them.

Gagged while I listened and listened and listened to no one believing me, because I was not allowed to say it. Would it have changed their minds? They’d watched it happen, anyway.

Threatened: this was the only chance.

And then: a false finish. A technical, institutional evasion. A gone, but a gone free. My gag remains, technically.

My silence has worn thin.


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