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Silent Strong Women

Image of Souyenne Dathorne
PROSAF — Surviving Sexual Abuse In The Caribbean By Souyenne Dathorne

WOMEN have for many years been forced or coerced into silence. In many cases they have kept their voices muted because they thought there was no other choice, or that no one would listen or support them.

In many cases they were proven correct in their assumptions. There is usually no one listening. Far too often women who are suffering have no-where to turn and no one to turn to. They are often bombarded with questions about what they did to cause them the pain that was inflicted against them.

We look at domestic violence and sexual assault; we look at the ratio of men to women who are victimized and forget to focus on the pain and agony these women endure on a near daily basis.

We put them on trial, interrogating them about the abuse they suffered, about what they remember versus what their traumatized brains have blocked.

We take their stories, their decision to break their silence, the fortitude with which they shared/share their stories and call them liars.

We dissect their stories and attack their fragmented memories, all in an effort to excuse their abusers.

Many women have been told that the best way forward is to forgive, forget and remain silent.

I will say that the best way forward is what you determine. It may be the decision not to share your story at all, it may be the decision not to share your story right now, or to share your story with a few or with many.

The choice is yours. It’s Your story, Your life and Your choice.

Your story is not something you should be ashamed of because contrary to what you have heard or have been told you did nothing wrong.

Many survivors take their time to share their stories, some take it to their graves. We don’t ever think of what this silence does to the core of a woman/man. She/he holds on to the pain of having her/his life shattered, her/his dreams ripped from their arms.

Their lives are changed in a moment, they have suffered a trauma, there is no changing that, their bodies remember the pain and violence, their memories are clouded with the images of what they went through, some vivid, some clouded.

Not all the memories are accessible because our brains will try to protect us by hiding the painful memories. But know that what you went through is not your fault, that you have nothing to be ashamed of and that if and when you are ready there are women and men here to support you as you share your story.

The silence is crippling for many survivors. It’s loudest when they are alone. It creeps up on them and reminds them of the nights when no-one heard their screams, when no-one stopped/stepped in to save them.

There are too many women/men who have fallen victims to crimes of sexual assault or domestic violence. Too many are walking around silently burdened, slowly decaying with every breath they take.

Silence isn’t always golden, what can’t be said doesn’t disappear; it haunts them, but it hasn’t destroyed them. Women are strong and resilient; they have endured much pain and torture but they have risen above it all and continued to stand up.

Your strength has always been your best attribute; it has carried you and supported you through the toughest of times. Don’t let yourself be broken. Survivors of sexual assault need a supportive environment to begin the healing process.

They need to believe and feel that they are part of a culture that doesn’t support individuals who commit sexual crimes. We have to be the difference we want to see in our country. We have to be willing to start to make change.

We, at PROSAF, have acknowledged that violence against women is a problem in St. Lucia and the wider Caribbean. We are here to begin the metamorphosis that is desperately needed. We are always here to listen and if you are not ready to come forward but need a listening ear, feel free to contact us.

Remember that Sexual assault is something that happens to people, it does not define them, it is something that was done to them.

Survivors, Victims, Thrivers remember you are a strong, beautiful, intelligent woman/child/man who has suffered a trauma through no fault of your own. You are not guilty of any crime, something was done to you against your will, Sexual Assault is something that happened to you, it does not define you.

You are worthy of love and happiness. Always remember that you are not alone, that you have nothing to be ashamed of.

We are taking the baby steps necessary to make it better for all. KNOW YOU HAVE A SAFE SPACE IN PROSAF.
Yours Sincerely,
SouyenneDathorne, Velika Lawrence

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