The Power of Shame

November 28, 2018


It began soon after we met.  And it began with his shame.  I had a bright yellow dress with a low neckline.  One day, during a fit of rage, he grabbed the front of my dress and tore it right down the middle.  

That night, in bed, he broke down and cried, telling me how he sometimes lost control and just couldn't help himself.  He told me how sorry he was, how he would buy me a new dress.  He told me I was the only one in the world who could help him contain his rage. And I believed him.

So his shame became our secret, our shame.  And every time I was the target of his rage and violence, I hid our secret out of shame.  

My parents never knew; people at work didn't suspect.  In public we appeared to be a normal couple.  Only in the secrecy of our home did he feel free enough to hit me, shout at me, and humiliate me. And the shame that had been his shame, then our shame, became my shame.  


Ava Carmel

Author of Severe Silence (


International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 


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