This song was written to highlight the issues of domestic abuse; the social isolation and the Contract of Silence abused women and children engage in with their abusers, putting on appearances and agreeing not to reveal what goes on behind closed doors for fear of retribution, be it physical or emotional, fear, guilt, shame, neglect, or violence.
This song is written out of personal experience. Not just one experience, but half a lifetime of them. At one point I was even raped in my own bed by the man who was supposed to love and care for me, and when I tried to speak up, no one would listen. It is not easy to admit this or to speak publicly about it, but I feel it's important not to maintain that silence because it's the silence that allows the control to linger.
When I'd finally had enough and took back control of my life after my last relationship, I was amazed by the change in our son. After his father left the state suddenly, he didn't once cry or ask where his father was. He was suddenly laughing and playing, rolling around on the floor giggling where his father's chair had been, and playing in places in the apartment I'd never seen him occupy before. He started singing. All day long. He blossomed and so did I. I found I wasn't afraid to open the blinds or have people over or talk to the landlord anymore. Bills were suddenly easy to pay. We weren't on the brink of eviction every day anymore. We could afford food and utilities and still have money left over for fun things. We could go out and enjoy life and this happiness began to pervade our lives like we'd never felt before. It was freedom.
As all of this unfolded before my eyes, without threat of intimidation, fear, or shame for seeing it, and I looked at the walls of our apartment with new eyes, this song began to form in my head. This flimsy prison that I'd consented to live in was suddenly just an empty shell, simple white walls, nothing more. At times they seemed to fade from view, as if they weren't even there at all. I thought of all the houses I'd drive past on my way home from work and wondered how many others were locked away behind the facade of 'perfect lives', afraid to reveal the truth for fear of having it all come crashing down around them. I was lucky. I had been the sole breadwinner for our family. I had been the one with the resources to support myself and my son. Many women are not so lucky.
In contacting my local women's shelter during the process of removing ourselves from the situation and dealing with my ex's sudden disappearance, I was told that there were women and children living homeless on the streets waiting for space in the shelters. They had no one to help them because they had been isolated from friends and family by their abuser, but they couldn't go home because it wasn't safe. I decided that when the day came that I released this song, I would use it to help. I plan to release the vocal stems on SoundCloud and host an informal remix contest to make an EP to sell as a fundraiser to help my local shelter. I've included a donation link in this track if you'd like to make a contribution to Monika's House now. http://www.dvrc-or.org/domestic/violence/resources/C35/
December 8, 2012 is the first annual Day4Women. Visit Day4Women.org to participate in workshops and discussions about a variety of women's issues.
Music and artwork by Zefora
perfect houses, perfect lives disappear at night.
these illusions safe and sound, secret us from plain sight
everything, every promise, and we never talk out loud
and we sing in walled gardens and we never make a sound
and we live in paper houses
and and we only dream at night
and we walk these darkened hallways
as the lights and the shades go down
and we live in paper houses
and we know not to stay too long
and we speak with gilded echoes
as we wait for the walls to come down