Who Took Your Voice – Three Poems

Prologue: There are many reasons we lose our voice. What came to the forefront as I wrote these three poems was the devastating effect of shame and trauma in our lives – which not only cause us to lose our voice but, as I write in piece 3, they can cause deafness towards the song of others.

Poetry and illustrations by David Tensen.
** These three poems are part of a larger collection of poems published in 2020. The Wrestle. Poems of Divine Disappointment and Discovery. Available here

‘Who took your voice?’ Piece 1

your ‘no’
was not enough
and Dominance
pushed it aside
like it was never there.
And you learnt
your words
didn’t matter.

your silence
was required
and Coercion
whispered it’s lie
that secrets were safer.
And you learnt
that truth
equalled pain.

your story
was cut short
and Shame
covered your mouth
to filter in the darkness.
And you learnt
to only
be positive.

Maybe, now that you are safe,
the older, stronger you
can stand beside
the little one inside
and begin to ask
‘Who took your voice?’

Maybe, you were not created
to have your boundaries crossed
and your no dishonoured.

Maybe, you were not created
to hold all those secrets
and all that pain.

Just maybe, you were not created
to tell a partial story
to be entirely accepted.

‘Who took your voice?’ Piece 1
David Tensen
April 2019

‘Who took your voice?’ Piece 2

Who took your voice
with all its tone
and volume
and beauty
of pain
and joy
and expression of you?

Who took your voice
with all its colour
and silence
and pauses
of rhythm
and pace
and music of you?

Who took your voice
when you exhaled
to show
and tell
of trauma
and secret
and treatment of you?

Did it remain inside?
Was it muffled outside?
Was it met with contempt
by those with too much to lose
and little to give?

Come now,
Like the healed leper
it’s time
to take up your voice
and talk.

‘Who took your voice?’ Piece 2
David Tensen
April 2019

‘Who took your voice?’ Piece 3

You didn’t mean to lose it
but when you went to use it
it wasn’t there,
and you began to wonder
who took your voice.

There was a story to tell
when you experienced hell
but lips didn’t open,
and you began to wonder
who took your voice.

You don’t remember giving it away.
It’s like it was stolen

but not stolen
because you can speak

but not about that event
or pain
or doubt
or skeletons in your closet.

Maybe that’s it?!
You have a voice
but you can’t find an ear
to hear
with love
the truth
of what is
and was
and shame
and hurt

..so may it be
that your voice
finds the attuned ear of
a co-suffering other
who’ll sing in harmony
the songs of deliverance
you need to sing.

‘Who took your voice?’ Piece 3
David Tensen
April 2019

** These three poems are part of a larger collection of poems published in 2020. The Wrestle. Poems of Divine Disappointment and Discovery. Available here


  1. Fran April 28, 2019 at 10:28 pm

    Thank you for your poems, David. Piece 3 resonated with me, and I wrote my own poem titled, ‘I’m finding my voice’. Poetry is a form of writing I’ve not used till now. It’s very satisfying to have written my story in a way that says what I want to say in 8 3-line stanzas. Thank you.

  2. Shirley Rappach-Criteser May 8, 2019 at 9:55 am

    Dear David:
    I just am learning about the fact that I am married to a Narcissist. He took my voice. What I said never mattered. Only his opinions, views on things, and handling of finances mattered. After 9 years I had had enough. I prayed for a year, and cried every day, until I, with about 4 different prophetic words that matched, left him. I left him in Colorado while he was away at work on his trucking job. I hired a man to help me load a truck and towed my car 2000 miles away back to my other home in Ohio. He came home 2 hours after I left. It has not been easy. We don’t really communicate. I really have sensed for some time that your ministry, along with your lovely wife Natalie, will help me a great deal. I too, am very empathetic.
    I even found a job that I have worked at a month now. But still, my emotions are reeling. I feel exhausted without even working on my days off. I have seen 3 counselors, and joined Celebrate Recovery, as I have worked on recovering. They told me I was co dependent. A counselor said I was depressed and had anxiety. I never knew they went hand in hand. Thank you so much for sharing, Blessings!

  3. Michele August 27, 2019 at 3:29 pm

    Yes these poems speak to me. Having experienced the silent treatment from family members over the years. Indifference being the longest painful part of abuse. Learning to live and let go. Thankyou for your insightful poems.

  4. Ginny September 15, 2019 at 1:04 am

    Dear David,
    I opened up your post this morning about accountability, then the post about what ship I am on and just now read your 3 poems, Who Took Your Voice. Wow and wow!! God knew I needed to read all of them but the 3 poems brought many tears. Our 39 year old daughter (who loved Jesus beyond anyone I have ever known) passed away due to ovarian cancer in September of 2018 after fighting and suffering for 3 years. We have twin grandchildren and a son in law. He has always been a narcissist but now that our daughter is gone he is off the rails! We had never experienced narcissism before until he came into our life. There is so much sadness to our story that would take up to much space! ?
    He has completely changed and is living in darkness while acting like he is the best Christian there is. He will not listen to us or anyone else unless they agree with him and what he is doing. He has been in our life for 19 years but is now pushing us out of his life and is trying to close the door on our relationship with our twin grandchildren.
    Your 3 poems had me weeping as they express exactly how I feel. I have not had a voice for a very long time and have experienced trauma watching our daughter slowly die in front of us each day. (We moved in with them for 4 months)
    Thank you SO much for writing these poems! I am praying and trusting Jesus that my voice will return. May Jesus continually bless you, your family and the work you are doing for wounded and confused, broken-hearted people like me.
    Many blessings!

  5. David Tensen September 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

    Gunny, thanks for writing and sharing. I pray you discover more beautiful things on your journey through the grief and losses

  6. Jane October 6, 2019 at 3:50 pm

    Definitely no.1 and no.2
    Thank you for giving your voice to our now emerging voices

  7. Courtney January 31, 2020 at 11:47 pm

    And still, I speak. Yes, as a child I would declare the emperor has no clothes, only to be dismissed and shamed for speaking my truth and using my voice. Over and over being told what to think and met with a closed, shut down hierarchical family. I read the poem and realized that voice of mine I had as a kid has never been extinguished. I was labeled a rebel, non-conformist, threatened with abandonment. Had too big an ego, especially for a girl. I was the kid in trouble at school for disobeying authority. . And still I speak, and still I rise. And yes, as I’ve moved towards wholeness, learning to trust my inner voice and a Trinity of safety, healing from abusive authority, both male and female, finding complete safety in The Trinity, now I have the freedom and discernment to know when to speak up or not need to, but still, I have a voice.

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