Speak the Truth, Even if your Voice Shakes

Speak the Truth, Even if your Voice Shakes

By: Susan Deborah Schiller

There are wars raging right now in this world that no one sees or hears, for the bloody battles are staged behind barbed wire prison walls that the average person cannot conceive exist. Can there really be such prison camps in the land of freedom, right out in the open?

How is it that the Nazi concentration camps operated in ordinary towns and cities across Germany, while arousing almost no concern by local German countrymen who frequently saw evidence in plain sight of the atrocities?

Could it be possible that trama-based prison camps exist in your own community, and that there are prisoners suffering psychological torture right in your own back yard? Could it be as simple as the fact you cannot hear their tortured cries or see their gaping wounds? These modern day prisoners have been silenced. Yet, their suffering goes on behind closed doors.

The Untold Story

I'm writing today, because I know these prison camps well. They are real. The story I'm about to share has never been told by me before, but it's a story shared by hundreds of thousands of women, some of them dying with their story untold.

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.  — Maya Angelou

Our stories are our very life breath. Our stories create our world – how we perceive our world, that is. To deny or suppress any part of our story is to walk away from the Truth, to lose a part of our soul.


“A great writer reveals the truth even when he or she does not wish to.” – Tom Bissell

The truth is often stranger than fiction and some find it challenging to believe. For example, shortly before Mother's Day last year, the police received an emergency call from Amanda Berry. Amanda, 26-years old, had been missing for 10-years. Held captive just 3-miles from her own home, in a house owned by Ariel Castro, in an ordinary Cleveland neighborhood, where houses are clumped closely together, neighbors were taken completely by surprise that Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michele Knight had been teenage prisoners held captive just a few feet away from "good people".

In fact, Child Protective Services had even been called to the house in 2004 but left when there was no answer to their knock. Neighbors report having barbeques with homeowner, Castro, and they never once suspected the middle class city bus driver of being a hideous monster. Five babies were born to the prisoners in that house; one survived – Amanda's 6-year old daughter, also found alive.

As I listen to the news reports on this case, the most astonishing fact is the proximity of this house prison to "good people" who perhaps could have helped sooner, if they had known what to look for.

The Sociopath Next Door

There are men and women who are even more hideous than Ariel Castro, and like Satan himself, they cloak themselves in "righteous" service.

They are charming and gifted speakers, well-educated and usually successful in their careers. They commonly appear to us in the form of pastors, lawyers, doctors, therapists, counselors. They want us to trust them with our stories. This is the preferred career path of sociopathic individuals.

Today's statistics: One out every twenty-five people is a sociopath, so there's a pretty good chance a family in your neighborhood, your church, or perhaps in your own backyard is suffering silently, behind closed doors.

Getting Naked

If we are to understand how stories like Amanda Berry's can happen, or even worse, we need to understand the human condition. We have to know all we can about each other, and that means getting naked.

And at some point I believe one has to stop holding back for fear of alienating some imaginary reader or real relative or friend, and come out with personal truth. If we are to understand the human condition, and if we are to accept ourselves in the complexity, self doubt, extravagance of feeling, guilt, joy, the slow freeing of the self to its full capacity for action and creation, both as human being and as artist, we have to know all we can about each other, and we have to be willing to go naked – May Sarton

In listening to each other's stories, we become "life story artists" painting a picture of our world. I believe that together we can create a better world, through understanding the human condition and being willing to be naked and unashamed. I believe we can bless the next generation by giving them a world where "abused no more" is a reality.

We are our sister's keeper. Is there someone in your community, perhaps even next door, whose story you have not yet heard? Is there a spiritual captive living in your neighborhood?

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners… – Isaiah 61:1

We are all connected. As we share our stories, we are empowering these captives to get their lives back.


My Full Story     What I Believe    Contact Me

With all my love,


Susan Schiller knows how it feels to lose everything: marriage and family, church and reputation, finances and businesses, and more. Susan's upcoming, interactive memoir, "On the Way Home," tells the story of how she came to be known as "the most abused woman" her counselors had yet met and how she learned to navigate to freedom and fullness.  
Today Susan helps people write their life stories, unearthing the treasures of their past and sowing them into their future, creating new family legacies.

Copyright © 2010 to 2015 Team Family Online, All rights reserved.   For reprint permission or for any private or commercial use, in any form of media, please contact Susan Schiller


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Yetunde May 21, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Great article as usual Susan. May the Lord make us sensitive enough to know hwne things are happening around us that we need to correct. May the good Lord also expose the wolves in sheep clothing and may He cpature the hearts of those who "know" but do nothing about it due to bureaucracy. Amen.


Susan Schiller May 21, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Thanks so much, Yetunde – it’s always a delight to see you!


Sue Glashower May 19, 2013 at 5:19 pm

The truth will set you free! You are so right, we can't hide from evil as Christians and pretend it doesn't exist. We need to stand up and fight for those who are hurting or in trouble.


Susan Schiller May 19, 2013 at 6:37 pm

That’s exactly it, Sue – it’s about standing in the gap between the abusers and the victims… society and church so often blame the victims. Thanks for sharing – I appreciate you, Sue!


Tanya Marlow May 19, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Lord, have mercy.

This is really powerful. I look forward to the next instalments. 


Susan Schiller May 19, 2013 at 6:38 pm

Thank you so much, Tanya – I’m glad you came by 🙂


Gertraud Walters May 19, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Food for Thought, and I know that we must let our Life Styles penetrate through this chaos. We know that abuse and exploitation are in every level of society. I've been through things myself but God's Grace is sufficient for every situation. I am an extra ordinary woman, loved by God and redeemed by the blood of his Son. I am FREE and all I want to do is to share this FREEDOM with whoever wants it.



Susan Schiller May 19, 2013 at 12:28 pm

That’s an interesting way to put it, Gertraud – to allow our lifestyle of freedom penetrate through the chaos. You are certainly one who is walks your talk – I’m grateful to have met you!


Wayne May 17, 2013 at 8:15 pm



Susan Schiller May 17, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Thanks for visiting here today, for taking time to read 🙂


Marvia May 17, 2013 at 5:45 pm

Oh WoW!  That's just, WoW.  You are so right about prisoners in our own backyards.  May be found to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the unreached in our right-now world.  We have hope and light that must be shared.  May be not grow faint.  May we not grow weary.  May we be strong in the Lord and the power of His might.


Susan Schiller May 17, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Amen, Marvia <3


Susan Schiller May 17, 2013 at 1:49 pm

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