Trigger Warning: This post illustrates a specific person’s experiences with gender-based violence. This may be triggering to some readers.
My name is Grace. I am a Bsc. Medical Sciences student and an aspiring Black neurosurgeon. Volunteering with Shelter Movers has been a year-long journey, one I took as a step in mitigating domestic violence in Black communities. The piece below is centered on my experiences as a Nigerian youth.
Everyone hopes for a happy ever after,
a life full of joy and fulfillment spent with their soulmates,
And dare I say, ‘prince charming’.
But no one ever talks about what happens when prince charming goes rogue,
What happens when you discover that perhaps this charming prince is the villain in your happy-ever-after story,
Because I know.
It begins with a brief glimpse,
Glimpse because it is a slight revelation of truth that will soon be denied,
Gaslighted out of existence
Then comes hope,
Hope that love will prevail,
Hope that things will be reverted to whence they began,
But we all know how true that is.
After comes the fight,
The fight for love, I call it.
Where you go to war with your consciousness screaming ‘run, run, RUN!!!’ at every move you make. Some lose this battle but save themselves.
While others continue to wrestle until they lose all sense of self and end up in the last phase, Acceptance
Sure, all the aforementioned is quite concerning.
Can it rival the baffling role of society in all of this?
Growing up in a black / African household, I have been opportune to witness the disgusting roles society plays in the life of women who knowingly or unknowingly are experiencing domestic violence. As a child, I recall meeting a young mother who had been lambasted by her husband who happened to be an active member of the church.
And what was her offense?
Giving birth to twin girls and no boy.
For a crime that was not her doing she was battered
yet instead of being embraced and comforted in the house of the Lord, Words like ‘it’s okay, you are still young and can try for another child’
‘Don’t be angry, you are a girl!’,
‘You just have to tolerate this, that is what women do.’
‘Can’t she put makeup on to cover up the bruises, this is disturbing.’
And the most baffling of all from our female leaders, ‘we will pray for you so that God can make things right.’
This young mother grew up with the assumption that our situation was normal. Covered up with makeup for the next beating,
unaware of her final beating that would land her in her casket/grave.
Then came the ridding guilt at her wake,
mourning and wailing over the young life that was lost.
Had someone told her to leave,
Had someone aided her,
Had someone held the perpetrator accountable, would all of this have happened?
You would think, the elders would have learned from this story.
But they don’t!
They chastise the woman that speaks out in the face of domestic violence. Curse out the ones that escape without their children,
And ridicule the ones that leave with them.
They isolate them from the church and their circles.
They mock the one that fights in court for justice.
And every time they do this,
another body drops.
One might say, this is your experience from Nigeria,
‘Things are different in Canada!’
I thought so too.
But how different are things?
Are things different because he didn’t hit her but out of embarrassment, locked up his wife riddled with cancer
Leaving her to succumb to death without treatment?
Are things different because he did not hit her but verbally belittles her in front of the congregation?
Are things different because he expects her to work a full-time job and yet take care of a family in the capabilities of a housewife?
We all know how easy it is to isolate an immigrant woman from her family.
The perpetrator slowly crafts his move where his victim is isolated from her family, friends, and kin in the name of love.
Then the violence begins.
Escalating because the victim knows, there is nowhere to go.
There is nobody to turn to!
What if, at that moment,
instead of needless rebuke, they are offered services like Shelter Movers. With vigilant volunteers who are willing to risk it all to get them out What if?!
But rather than being plagued with ‘what if!’
I will become the representation.
I will offer these services.
I will become that volunteer who risks it all to get them out.
Sometimes we must risk it all to make the change happen.
Will you join the move?