Secret: kept from knowledge or view, hidden, conducted in private, a practice marked by discretion.
Secrets destroy, silently eroding the confidence, value and trust of individuals, families, societies. Words whispered in private to cover over deeds too horrible to be allowed in public are the little foxes feasting on the fruits of the vine. Especially within families. Traditions held for years, unspoken rules family members are expected to adhere to at all costs, foster environments rich for the growth of secrets and the sins they cover over.
No sin is too great, no crime too scandalous to warrant forcing a victim to remain silent. Yet, this is most often the result. Victims, shamed into believing they are to blame, are coerced into bearing the guilt through their silence until entire families are eviscerated and left in ruin while the one who is truly responsible continues to go without punishment.
No one must know. The family honor must be protected at all costs. Keep up the facade of perfection, no matter how many lives are shattered. This becomes the de facto motto until the line separating right from wrong is obliterated and all moral sense of justice is gone. Only when the sin or crime is inflicted outside the family will the truth be revealed. But it will be too late. Innocent lives are forever stained with the knowledge that the crime could have been prevented had someone within the family had the courage to speak up.
Then begins the victim shaming. A vicious attempt to repair the damage the truth has exposed by drawing attention away from the culpable and onto their prey until they begin to question their own guilt. Perhaps they did something to provoke it? Perhaps they sent a signal, or said something to encourage the behavior? Soon, they are the one seeking to keep the sin a secret. Better to cover it up and not tell anyone. Better to bear it alone for fear they will be blamed.
The culpable begin to breathe again. The damage has been repaired. They have not lost honor. They can go about their lives with the knowledge that no one is the wiser. Until the next time. And the next. And the next. Until it is no longer possible to cover the sin. Until the sin has become too large a crime. Only then will they be forced to face the multitude of lives they have destroyed will they understand the devastation of a secret.