By Kayla Rowe, See the Triumph Guest Blogger
As Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) comes to a close, it is important to remember that being educated and aware of domestic violence and prevention for it should remain in the forefront year-round, although April allows the topic to be truly magnified. SAAM is an annual campaign that urges community-based organizations, government agencies, crisis centers, individuals and so many more outlets to plan events that will educate and inform the world on the issue of sexual violence and continue making strides towards prevention efforts.
But, although sexual assault is the main topic during this time, child abuse is also a still very much stigmatized topic that many are often nervous to confront. Confronting the topic means confronting the reality that this type of abuse is real and happening in our own communities. Bringing awareness to this can not only begin the movement towards erasing the silence surrounding the matter but can potentially save some children from thinking that they need to normalize what happens to them or keep quiet to avoid mockery or skepticism.
For decades, this month, annually, people worldwide have been doing just that regarding sexual violence. This month can also stand as a reminder that abuse comes in different forms and all are equally necessary to address and prevent. Let us all do our part to end the stigma surrounding such types of violence and abuse and continue to educate ourselves and others!
Kayla Rowe recently received a Bachelor’s degree in Communication with a concentration in Journalism and a minor in Professional Writing from Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia. She is currently living in Greenville, North Carolina, and plans to attend graduate school to earn a Master’s degree in School Counseling with hopes to one day become a school guidance counselor for high school students.
An Update from Mother of Hope Cameroon: Engaging Youth in the Campaign to End Sexual and Intimate Partner Violence
By Mbah Adah, See the Triumph International Ambassador
The Mother of Hope Cameroon team paid a visit to the Bali-Nyonga Students Association [BANSA] Buea on the 3rd of April 2016. During this visit, MOHCAM presented a talk on intimate partner violence, its forms and manifestations, and possible effects on young girls and young women. The visit was planned to serve as MOHCAM’s way of contributing to the fight against sexual violence which the international community is celebrating this month of April. The idea is to involve young people in the fight so as to preserve future generations from violence and broken homes as a result.
The meeting kicked off at exactly 4pm with an opening prayer by one of the members of the association. Immediately after that, the team was introduced by one of us who happens to be a member of the association as well. The president of the association then presented a welcome address to the team followed by a detailed exposé of the organization; its aims, targets mission and vision by the program coordinator for the Buea branch Sirri Cynthia. She went further to explain the importance of including young men in the struggle against intimate partner violence especially that which is sexual, making them understand the importance of maintaining healthy relationships. Shortly after the general introduction, there was another presentation done by Mundi Prisca on the different types of intimate partner violence and how they are manifested. The presentation dwelled more on the warning signs to look out for when getting into any relationship, signs which will detect a potential violent partner and unhealthy relationship. Some of such characteristics of such violent partners include threats, public humiliation, and forceful sexual practices and so on.
The next speaker, Agwe Cynthia, talked about the effects of intimate partner violence. She painted a clear picture of the disturbing effects of this kind of violence, relating it to health issues, emotional/psychological issues, self-worth issues and most importantly the effect it has on children of such violent relationships. The presentation on effects demonstrated how the cycle of intimate partner violence is continued and maintained through children as it has an effect on their psyche and they tend to imitate such behaviors on wives and girlfriends when they eventually grow up. Shortly after this, the last speaker did a presentation on the use of the female condom and the advantage of initiating safe sex in order to curb the rate of STIs, unwanted pregnancy and eventually deaths through crude abortion. The presentation on the use of the female condom was also directed towards making young girls and women to understand their rights to negotiate safe sex and to be able to detect partners who violate such rights as dangerous. The president of the group later took the floor and expressed great joy and appreciation for the visit, emphasizing that he in particular had learned a lot and hoped to see us again. Other floor members confessed to have never seen the female condom before and were thus happy to have had the chance to see it and learn more about it. The meeting ended at about 6:30pm with a rendezvous to be there again on a later date which will be communicated sometime soon and also with refreshment.
By Eileen Martin, See the Triumph Contributor
As a survivor, I understand the dynamics behind dysfunction and abuse, and most importantly, I know that our past does not have to define us. It is my mission, and my passion, to go forth and help others help themselves. I like to call this planting seeds.
Having the opportunity to view life differently through the lens of a survivor rather than a victim, I have spent a great deal of time contemplating the seeds I would like to plant in order to connect and engage with other survivors. It is also important for me to plant seeds of what domestic violence looks like so that someone can recognize the signs and walk away from a potential abusive relationship.
These things I know for sure:
You can learn to love and respect yourself. Though this journey is often fraught with obstacles because your self-worth has been beaten down and loving yourself was not an option, with support from a counselor you can redefine yourself on your terms. You are reclaiming your power, and from my experience, this is an amazing feeling. Be curious about what makes you happy.
You are strong. You have survived violence, you have survived psychological warfare, you have been put down, told you are worthless and unlovable, yet here you stand. When you feel like you do not have the strength to move forward, remember that you can choose your path now, you are in the drivers seat. At first this may feel scary, but start with small steps like choosing what you will have for breakfast, or whether or not you will answer a phone call. Recognize that you have the power to choose!
Not everyone will respect your journey, and that is okay. Change is hard; many people do not like change for themselves and also do not like to see change in others. Some will work really, really hard to change you back when you attempt to hold a boundary or choose a different, healthier journey. I liken this to the crab pot mentality where “If I can’t have it, neither can you.” You are working to climb out of a pot, to achieve freedom, mental health, and fulfillment, yet you are being grabbed and pulled on by those who may be afraid because you are shining a light onto something they do not want or refuse to see. You may have to walk away from those who do not have your best interest at heart. This is really hard when people you love and care about do not understand what you are trying to escape. You may hear things like “well he/she is such a nice guy, he can’t be that bad” and “you married him, didn’t you?” Remember, it is not your job to convince others, but to recognize your truth and climb out of that crab pot.