Several years ago I worked through a study (Shelter From the Storm) on sexual abuse with a friend. One of the most interesting things I learned from that study was how the abused protect the abuser by their own silence. Out of fear of losing their sense of security, out of fear of shame or out of fear of many other things the abused will hide what is really going on. What they cannot see is that staying silent, remaining hidden becomes their prison.
I have found this to be true even when there is no abuse at all. In my own life I have recognized myself hiding from people for all sorts of reasons. I have hidden for fear of rejection. Believing that if anyone really knew me they wouldn't like me and I couldn't take that rejection. The result was that most people thought I was a snob and I didn't have many friends.
There was a time I thought I could do everything myself. If a problem would arise I could handle it myself. Anything that needed to be done I didn't need any help. I didn't need anyone. The result? I felt overwhelmed and alone.
Even my own mind has, at times, become a prison. I will dwell on an issue. I will examine it, dissect it, analyze it, and completely diassemble and reassemble it. I will spend countless number of hours and sleepless nights trying to resolve it. Not until I talk to someone and release my thoughts into their hearing will I find freedom from the prison in my mind.
And the reasons for hiding in these ways is the same as for those who have been abused: fear of loss of security, shame, guilt. But once the silence is broken (being myself around others, asking for and accepting help when I need it, talking with my husband or a friend about issues that concern me) then I am released from that lonely self-made prison.