Survivor Stories Part 1
Updated: May 5
“No matter who you are, where you're from, your skin color, your gender identity, just speak yourself. Find your name and find your voice by speaking yourself.” - Kim Namjoon, United Nations/ UNICEF End Violence Program 2018.
As the month of March: "The Women's History Month" ends, we start relaying stories all through April 2021 that were collected from victims and survivors of Domestic Abuse from all over the world. The voices raised are from various backgrounds, age groups, gender identities and cultures.
Most of the people who shared their life stories with us mentioned feeling free, relieved and empowered in their current state of life. They also felt a sense of strength letting others know that there is a way out.
"A voice can heal A voice can uplift A voice can amend"
Comments, Fairuz Ahmed, CoFounder on behalf of The Parasol Cooperative Team.
I first heard about domestic abuse on television, there is a crime patrol serial and they showed people being put behind bars for the wrong they do at home. I became curious and started to read up on domestic violence and what categorizes as a crime. I was stunned that many incidents we overlook and get used to actually are abuse. And emotional, financial abuse, religious abuse, etc are many times not thought of as abuse, to begin with.
It is astonishing that most things mentioned are taught as a culture to overlook or compromise with. A slap, a push, a shove, or even up to breaking someone's phone in rage are shown as affection, protectiveness, or blatant possessiveness. And somehow these are romanticized in movies, dramas and as a masculine norm.
He loves you, so he checks your phone... She cares, that why she has to have your password... The inlaws discipline you physically to make you tougher.... Your husband will monitor your finances as he is the man of the house....
These are all factors that add up and are a predominant base for domestic abuse, power play and control. But in society, these are categorized as love or family bond. It was incredibly frustrating to know how people can strategize these abusive techniques in name of affection.
I started a college group and a local youth group where we talk about these issues. We openly discuss the limits and categories of when to name it as abuse. It was scary and sad to see that many young children, as young as 7 or 8 mentioned that they see their parents arguing and father slapping the mother, one parent pushing down the other and more.
This has led us to open private groups on various social platforms where we put out state-mandated regulations, important helpline numbers. The number of anonymous calls, texts and emails was overwhelming. Many students tried to find solace among peers, songs, writings and through friends. There was a great need for assurance and ask in most times were to know ways to reach out for help.
We hope more people need to know what Domestic Violence is and how deep the issue is rooted. - Mr. Lee (28) from Asia.
Today I filled a 38-page Government form. It took me 2 hours and 43 minutes, 2 cups of coffee and a pile of tissue paper soaked with the last teardrop I have decided to shed. The clerk looked at me and asked a few times if I need to take a break and come back. I looked at him and with all the energy in my shattered soul, I replied. "NO"
Today I promised myself not to break anymore.
Today I pacified myself that things could have been worse.
Today I committed to love myself.
Never in my wildest dream, I would have known that what I was going through for decades was 'abuse'. I was sitting in front of the filing officer and he passed me the tissue box. After waiting for 39 minutes I started to fill the form and let my mind take control and keep my heart silent. I have listened to the heart enough, it was high time to take a step back and see how bad I was broken.
Emotional abuse, isolation, financial control, demeaning attitude, belittling me socially and cutting me off from my friends, family, colleagues were all abuse tactics. And all this time I thought we were in love and the language of love is: control.
" He was caring or this is just another bad day"
" I must have done something wrong and I need to amp my patience"
" He is loved by all, so that means I might be in the wrong"
No matter which angle I took, no matter which direction our conversation went, I always was the one to be blamed.
I lastly started to believe it.
I started to accept that I am flawed.
He declared to my family and to his friends that I have anger issues and I cannot compromise. My colleagues were called and details were given how difficult I am to cope up with. I was the victim here but I felt like the abuser.
My voice was lost in translation and my mind was going haywire.
What an Irony!
Because when he abandoned me, he mentioned to my family that it was too boring to live with me because I was too quiet. He gave reasons that I did not argue or I did not doubt him and the relationship was feeling stagnant without any chase.
The last day I saw him face to face I asked, "What was my fault?" He replied, "you are a good girl, you never raise your voice at me and you were nice to my parents. But the entire marriage is becoming boring, there are no ups and downs and I need some excitement". I asked, "If you felt like this then why did you tarnish my reputation painting me as a repulsive, arrogant and troublesome person?" He stared at me for a while and said, " There is no point in speaking with you, I am not into you anymore."
Even to date what haunts me is the accusations and the torments. I was dying inside and trying to wrap my head around his opinion. It broke my heart, knowing that he knew I was not wrong, I was a good person, putting up with all his mood swings and abuse. But still, he made me the bad one in the relationship.
The damage he did to me left a hole in me.
I was broken from the inside.
Today as I filled the forms and finally decided to quit the marriage I am losing my love, I am losing the relationship I invested in for years. But I am starting a way to heal, fill the gaps and finally, I am letting myself be "Free".
I feel numb, a good type of numb.
I can breathe knowing that no one will judge me for being myself.
I am cutting back toxicity and negativity.
Yes, it is true that my abuse isn't visible to naked eyes, there are no bruises or cuts. To many, this isn't even abuse. But how can I explain that even after years I still cry at night, I spent sleepless hours reminiscing the days?
I still remember how I was treated by the person I loved faithfully.
Emotional abuse, mental abuse, financial abuse, and character assassination, tainting my reputation all fall under domestic abuse and oppression. To anyone who is suffering and losing their minds, please reach out for help. Speak with people who know someone who has broken free. There are many places where you can reach out anonymously. Do that, because no one has the right to treat you with disrespect, especially if that's the person you love - Ms.Irene (34) from California, USA.