You start noticing at eight.

Your friends start to speak mean words and throw looks you never thought you’ll see in places that are not in dramas. Your friends cry and their parents show up the next morning to speak with your teacher. That’s when you see that perhaps some people are being raised differently. It makes you wonder what makes it different, but your little brain couldn’t understand that much. So you shrug and think that maybe things are different all around.

At twelve, you start to understand.

Your start to hear what happens in most of your friend’s house. The mother, the father, the sister, and even the brother. You hear about them all and you exhale the breath you didn’t notice you’ve been holding. It’s all movies and novels, you try to reassure yourself. It doesn’t happen in real life. Parents don’t hit their children. Abuse happens only in Cinderellas and Snow Whites.

Eventually one day a friend shows up, tears and all, and you find it hard to swallow. It does happen. The thought is horrifying and you embrace said friend. You whisper how it’s going to be okay. You’re convincing nobody, but you say it anyway. You need the assurance, and only you can give it to yourself.

At fourteen, the effect of said abuse is visible in society. You try to understand the actions of the victims and you realize the way they cause tears to others can easily be interpreted as their own way of asking for help. It hurts you in a way, and you think authorities should be involved, but you understand teachers talking to parents only cause more pain to the victims.

You stop typing. You sigh and slump back into your couch as you think how it is the same with every abuse, be it physical, emotional, or sexual. As an ex-victim (while not physical), you know all the pattern. You know for fact that no one—absolutely no one—in this world will be able to interfere and create rainbows to a solution as long as victims are not brave enough, strong enough, to admit that they actually do need a helping hand.

So you smile bitterly. You observe the game from afar and analyze on who will give up to the match first. As your logic place its bet on the weakening, human body, you carefully restudy the game board and let your heart place its bet on the deflating, stubborn ego.