Not more than two ago, I escaped an abusive marriage. I fled over the miles to find peace, refuge and security. It is by far the bravest thing I have done, besides not giving up on life in the midst of the turmoil of the unrelenting darkness that surrounded me all those years.Growing up in an environment where abuse was seen as a norm, I pushed away the warning signs that this relationship was no good for me. In fact, I blamed myself and thought I deserved to be treated badly; to be punished for my mistakes. Most often, I shut out the still small voice in my heart that yearned to bring me comfort in saying that I was not alone.
To deal with the pain of abuse and rejection, I turned into an addict of sorts. It seemed like this was my only escape from reality. It was the only way to ease the pain of emotional hurt, negligence and crazy games. For me, it seemed like the only way to survive and get through another night. Kept away from the counsel of my family and friends, I had no one I could freely open to with the assurance of receiving help. I woke up each day with a sense of fear from the nightmares that stole my sleep almost each night. Sitting in fear all day of what would happen next, I could hardly ever eat. Even more, I withdrew from people, kept to myself and drowned in a deep sea of depression accompanied most often by fantasies of death.
A month after my second attempt to kill myself, I met two wonderful people who became life-changing friends. With their help, I was able to get away from the abuse and danger and I soon found solace in a Non-Profit in New Delhi, India called Maitri (www.maitriindia.org). Maitri is a humanitarian and developmental organization that is committed to facilitating citizenship rights, basic services, dignity and respect for most vulnerable populations. I was lucky to find them since the support they have given me is beyond what they even promise to do. Today, not only do I have their help as a domestic violence survivor but am also given the opportunity to creatively be part of the work they do in bringing care and support to those in need.
I still struggle with depression and pangs of anxiety each time I am in a new situation that I was never allowed to experience before. However, with support from new friends, community and God, I am able to overcome. It was never easy being in the trauma of abuse, feeling like my heart weighed so much so that I couldn’t even find the strength to get out of bed and put my feet on the floor. But even now that I am far from such pain, it still isn't easy cause my mind is so used to believing that there is always something to be afraid or hyper vigilant about. It is still so easy to think that nothing is ever going to be okay after all that has happened.
However, today I choose to believe differently. With help and hard work life is hopeful. I urge you today to be that friend who believes in the story of the one who needs you to count on. Perhaps, if you don't know what to do, find someone who does. And if you are the one hiding behind the pain of fear and abuse today, I urge you to never give up because help is possible.
One in three women worldwide has been physically or sexually assaulted by a former or current intimate partner? "Violence against women is a global health problem of epidemic proportions", says World Health Organization (WHO) Director General, Dr. Margaret Chan. Recognizing the urgent need to create safe spaces for women in the public and private spheres, Maitri has taken a leadership role in launching a Million Signature Campaign called Count On Me." Maitri’s goal is to motivate and inspire people to become part of the movement and the solution to End Violence Against Women. Ending violence against women is necessary to the well-being and mental health of women/girls and their families, but this cannot materialize without changing the mindsets that accept violence.
The movement begins with you and me.
For more on the movement Anna mentions, visit: http://www.change.org/en-IN/petitions/count-on-me-my-pledge-to-end-violence-against-women.