Photo credit: 1st For Women
Your silence is deafening. Speak out, raise your voice.
It is so difficult for me to write this, because my silence was deafening! I knew within my core that something wasn’t right, in fact, something was dreadfully wrong. But I didn’t want to rock the boat, I didn’t want my daughter to be angry at me, and I didn’t want her to stay away from us even more, so I kept silent. Yet – this very silence empowered the abuse.
This picture epitomises what my daughter was going through. He had imprisoned her, cut her off from her family and friends. She was trapped and could not leave. Every time that I spoke to her, she denied the entrapment, little did I know that he thrived off of this, he lived to make her world small, he lived to cut her off from her family and friends. The following is an excerpt from her story…
“Later that year while at a club I met T. He walked in with his girlfriend and joined our table of friends. He was so friendly and chatted with our group the entire night. His friend joined our table too, and we kinda hit it off and exchanged numbers. I went on a few dates with T’s friend. He became super possessive though and I broke it off. Within a few days, T was at my res, asking me out. I flat out refused and I never saw him again.
A year later, I had dropped out of varsity and I was working at my first job. I got an email, it was T. He’d seen my CV on a job site and wanted to take me out to dinner. I had nothing going on, so I thought why not. We went out on our first date, it was fun. He was charming, handsome, and he wanted to spoil me.
We started dating seriously, and I took him home to meet my family. They loved him. This was it I thought. Until our very first argument. To this day I cannot remember why we were arguing. But I remember the stinging on my cheek as his hand landed on my face. I remember the silence after. I remember not being able to breathe. That was the first time.
In the 2 years that followed, the beatings became more regular and more violent. He’d try to hurt me where no one could see, so my body would be bruised but my face looked perfect. Sometimes he missed though and my face would get hurt, when that happened I wasn’t allowed to go to work.
This was a time in my life I felt the farthest from God and my family. I felt so alone. I had no friends unless they were his friends. His family would come to visit for months at a time, and they’d defend his behavior. Telling me I should never talk back and try not to make him angry. I became this numb, petrified, weak shadow of myself. I’d let him hurt me and have his way with me and go to sleep each night feeling emptier than the last. I spent the Christmas of 2010 in his home country, while there he beat me so badly I could not see or speak for a few days. He told me he’d bury me where my family would never find me. I thought I’d never see my family again. I did go home though, and when I saw my mother I just wanted to cry and tell her how he’d hurt me. But she was angry. She was angry I’d neglected them. And she was right, I had pushed them away.
In December of 2011, I fell pregnant. I was excited. I thought this would make everything better. It didn’t. T simply said: “Oh you can reproduce? Well, you better not get fat.” The first 3 months of pregnancy was rough, I was sick all the time and a lot of the things I enjoyed I couldn’t stomach. This made T angry because I was wasting food. When he brought chicken home one night, I told him I couldn’t eat it. His cousin held me down while he hit and kicked me. Even as a soon to be mother, I was failing.”
Oh, How I wished I had listened to those feelings I had. How much I wanted to grab hold of her and embrace her and say that I knew something was terribly wrong! But I didn’t speak out, until the next March, when she ran for her life grabbed whatever could fit in her handbag and ran to work. She confided in her colleague, begging for her help. Her colleague called us and told us everything.
My daughter survived, and more than that, she thrived. She came home to live with us and gave birth to the most beautiful gift from heaven, our little granddaughter, Gabriella.
Fast forward 8 years, and she has met, fallen in love with, and is married to the most incredible man! He is a loving father and husband.
Yet! Still, I tell myself – You should have raised your voice! Do not be silent! – Stand up and Raise your Voice – not one more woman should be abused!
My uncertainty, my silence, gave him power. Today I raise my voice!
If you think that your daughter, your sister, your friend is in trouble…trust your gut, raise your voice!
Right now, you can make even more of a difference, download this song – My Body (Stand up). All proceeds go to the collective voice to fight against Gender Based Violence.
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