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The Abuse of Guyana – A Culture of Fear and Silence

Reproduced from http://sarabharrat.wordpress.com/ with permission from the writer.

Not so many years ago, I was an abused woman. Ever since I freed myself, Guyana has not looked the same. I think that once you’ve broken the chains of any type of oppression it sharpens your vision. So now when I look at our country I recognize a certain pattern, a pattern of psychological abuse.

I failed the first time I tried to tell someone about my suffering. Fear strangled me. I could not find the words. And so I suffered in my silence and as my suffering increased I became ashamed that I could not speak because of fear. I lived silently in fear feeling that the only way to live was to endure it alone.

When I finally found the courage to break my silence, I was asked to be quiet, to be quiet for the well being of my family. And so, once again I remained silent. This time I thought silence was my duty; duty to family, duty to protect them.

But to stay silent is a hard, hard thing. One day, you just cannot hide the horrors anymore or endure the pain to protect the people who should have been protecting you. This time I tried to tell someone who was not family and they said that I simply could not be serious.

Having been intimately acquainted with horrors, I know that there are those things which the imagination simply cannot create. There are those things so miserably vile that unless we have experienced them then there simply is no imagining the way they have been or could be.

What makes you so different from me?

The journey of my freedom began when several someones decided that they would not sit and witness my suffering. I will forever be grateful to those who lent me their voices when I could not speak for myself.

It is this same cycle, this same culture, of fear and silence which imprisons the Guyanese psyche. We have all been afraid. Many of us are still afraid. We remain silent because we believe that we are protecting our well being, our family, our children, our means to make a living, our chance at becoming something, anything, in this country we call home. We remain silent because we are convinced that no one else thinks or feels the same way.

And where does the fear come from? It comes from the sinister political machinery. It comes from the powers that be, from the powers that should be protecting us. The truth is that some of us are afraid of our Government. And the rest of us are afraid of the Opposition. We are afraid of them for different reasons. We are afraid of our leaders, our protectors. We are afraid of the powers that we have given them to wield. These are truths we all think but truths we seldom speak.

We have been victims of our political system. We have let it imprison us in a culture of fear and silence. It is not an easy thing to live in fear. What is this if not mass abuse of a nation, of our nation, of you, of our people? What gives them the right to lock us in a prison built of fear? And where are those voices which should rise to defend us?

To sit silently in fear and be victims is not what we will do, not so long as I am. Having found my voice, I will speak for you until you speak for yourself, until you break the chains of your oppression. Silence does not protect anyone. Silence steals our peace and condemns our children to the same fate or perhaps, a worse fate. Silence steals our hope.

These days I write letters and I sign them “Until Death and Without Wax”. It is a declaration that I have conquered fear and that I did it only with truth. I believe that even you can do this, why else would I write these words?