Copyright (c) 1996 Cornell Law Review
Cornell Law Review
ARTICLE: ON THE OTHER SIDE OF SILENCE: AFFECTIVE LAWYERING FOR INTIMATE ABUSE
81 Cornell L. Rev. 1225
Linda G. Mills *
If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel's heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence. 1
On the Other Side of Silence
Shades of violence and dimensions of abuse penetrate every shared space. An uninvited interruption, a slammed door, a disregarding glance - a spit, a slap, a sock. One afternoon's folly can be next week's destruction. To be pushed may be play, a wrestling match, or abuse. When is rape, rape? Is it the night of the incident, or two years later when the denial lifts and you recall that he forced himself on you despite your pleas to stop?
Violence depends - depends on a mood, an interpretation, a history. It depends on an awareness, a consciousness if you will, that one's experience is violent. Denial, often a mediating force in the face of abuse, can be so fierce that it deafens the silence that is screaming. Meanwhile to the observer, to you, there is no silence. You hear only a roaring injustice: systematically, she is robbed of her dignity, deprived of her character, mutilated from heart to bone. You become enraged, possibly even violent yourself. Paradoxically, your denial mirrors hers - a denial so fierce that it deafens the silence that is screaming. She too hears a voice, so loud and so clear, that it silences all the ...
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