Retelling violence can heal. It can also hurt. Post-Second World War exigency silenced
numerous victims of sexual violence. The legacy of this ‘silence’ and the brutality of
the crimes remain divisive in Asia. Yet, when breaking silence, victims pay a martyr’s
price. Their trauma appropriated for wider agendas. Personal suffering commodified
as national pain. Scarred bodies and psyches used as criminal evidence. In the hands
of others, memories take on currency beyond personal pain and outside circles of
healing. In courts, testimonies become valued only for probative worth and legal
weight. Politicians use trauma as diplomatic leverage. Restitution claims monetise
scales of suffering. No simple formula exists for trauma’s emotional arithmetic.
Sharing experiences can provide relief, even release. However, this article shows that,
in crying shame, survivors also pay a steep cost for speaking out. For some, it may be
better to keep silent.