Why didn’t you say anything?


Jenin Yaseen

The beautiful thing about art is that a picture or sculpture or painting can invoke completely different feelings for everyone.

This particular painting is called Why didn’t you say anything? 

The artist is Jenin Yaseen. She was born in Chicago but her family is from Palestine. I know when she painted it she was addressing the conflict between Israel and Palestine, but this painting spoke to me, to my past and my present.

I could sense the fear and confusion. I could see the tears, the powerlessness and the pain. It could be a painting of my childhood. It is all of the things I felt as a child who was being abused. It is many of the things I still feel today.

Why didn’t you say anything? 

I hate the question. When someone finally works up the courage to speak the horrors that they hold inside themselves why is that always one of the first questions that is asked?

Those words burn like acid. They feel like accusations. They are belittling and minimize the things that happened. They make a person feel like they have done something wrong.

So, instead of trying to explain why you didn’t say anything, the next time you hear that question the only proper answer should be….

I shouldn’t have had to say anything because it never should have happened at all.

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