The Silent Voice

In a child there is innocence that does not understand right from wrong. When a child witnesses abuse, messages of what love, respect and kindness is lost. The family unit becomes dysfunctional as a result of domestic violence, sexual, physical and/or psychological abuse. The child ultimately doesn’t understand what goes on due to the silence of the victimized family member. Victims are silenced and so are their children for they both fear to be subject to more violence. Children in the home rely on safety, shelter, clothing, nourishment, and love, unfortunately, none of these components exist when families are exposed to domestic violence. Sometimes our thoughts are not pleasant so we deny the truth which leads to revolving doors beginning and ending at the same place. The person’s (child and victim’s) emotional and psychological make-up will be damaged and there is a desperate need to repair what has been broken, healing requires trust. Once abuse is accepted, violence can continue through generations. The alternative victims face is to rely on systems that do not re-victimize woman and their children. I request that ACS begins to use their money to assist families by providing support and protection to keep impacted families together. Not only do ACS separate families but also misallocate their resources and prolong the separation. Once again the child suffers in silence without a true understanding of the reason why he/she was separated from his/her caretaker. It’s time for a conversation, the change begins with you. Survivors’ deepest and darkest secrets must be unveiled and brought to the light to allow the process of healing to begin. “We, survivors of abuse, represent a change that we, with the support of others, can make possible. Our values, integrity and transparency lead to an understanding among the general public of what abuse is.  Without community involvement how can we address the victims’ needs? Communication is essential between survivors, policymakers and local communities so that survivors’ experiences are taken into account. When does the cycle of abuse end if the community continues to turn the blind eye?

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Who is your heroine?

This year is coming to its end and one can safely say it has been a remarkable year in a sense that women from all walks of life came to the foreground to claim their voice, share their stories, and forge a community in their fight for making the world a better place for women (and men). The upsurge of feminism (and women in leadership roles) brings me hope for a better future and also fills me with a bit of sadness when I think of the women who preceded us, who for generations, centuries and thousands of years were compelled to live a life in limitation.

Many of my heroines never had a chance to tell their stories or claim the recognition they deserved. Too busy to provide for their families, they had no time to complain, little sympathy for their concerns, and certainly very little hopes for radical change in the ways in which they were treated, their opportunities limited, their voices ignored.

Reckoning with the past, I wish to pay tribute to the unknown heroines – like my paternal grandmother – whose shoulders we all stand on. My grandmother spent her entire life working as a cleaning lady, raising her two children and an adopted child as a widow, then me, her grandchild, while forever trying to make ends meet despite working all the time. A brilliant woman well into her late 80s, she survived on 6 grades of education because, back in her days, women were expected to devote their lives and labor to their families, and for that role, her level of education was deemed sufficient.  All other endeavors, such as a dream of a professional life and personal accomplishments (her dream was to become a special education teacher) never materialized because of her circumstances. With all the hardship that I can only in hindsight guess, she carried herself with utmost grace and strength, which is why she, in my eyes, is a true heroine.

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Thoughts On “A Better Man”.

A Canadian film and a US Premiere, “A Better Man” was shown at Cinepolis Chelsea on November 15th, as part of the DOC NYC Film Festival. “A Better Man”, the brainchild of survivor of horrific Domestic Violence, Attiya Khan, documented the arranged meetings and conversations between Attiya and her abusive ex-boyfriend Steve, after 20 years with no contact.

Why did Attiya choose to do this? Why did Steve agree to it? What exactly was achieved? These were some of the questions I asked myself. I don’t know the precise answers to these questions, but I’m going to share some of my thoughts with you, addressing these questions.

I believe that Attiya had in mind that if the film were to include an abuser, as long as the abuser was genuinely sorry for the violence he had inflicted upon his girlfriend and the consequential psychological damage that he had caused, then the film could have a more extensive impact on viewers in terms of providing an opportunity for a greater understanding of what happens within an abusive intimate relationship. Could it be that Steve chose to participate, with a similar goal in mind?

Was Steve genuinely remorseful? Yes! To my surprise, I believe that he was. Do I believe that all abusers feel remorse? No, I don’t. And this led me to ask myself: “Are there perhaps different types of abusers? Can I categorize them? Distinguish them?” Maybe those who were abused themselves. And those who are simply sociopaths.

It seemed to me that Attiya attained a good amount of healing via this process and I am delighted about this. When girlfriend and boyfriend, Attiya was just a teenager, and she was hit in the face by Steve many, many times, dragged across the floor over broken glass, (that he had broken), and choked until she passed out. “The sleeper”, she called that.

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