“Are you trying to break families?” asked the principle of the school.
A few years ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to speak to a group of young women about violence.
During the talk, I asked the audience about violence in their homes and under what circumstances they would accept violence from future boyfriends and husbands. They all said they would not accept, but I knew better. One in three women will be abused in her life.
The sad truth is that women don’t really think about future violence and when they don’t put an end to it quickly, they begin to believe it’s too late.
IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO WANT VIOLENCE TO END.
IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO BEGIN TO LEARN THE TOOLS ON HOW TO END VIOLENCE.
At the end of the talk, the school principle asked the question that started off this blog post.
The ONLY answer to this question is this…
IT IS THE ABUSER WHO HAS BROKEN THE FAMILY full stop.
Indrani has stepped up her activism, yet again, and is joining forces with UN Women to help promote their “Orange the World” campaign.
Here is the campaign message from the United Nations “UNiTE”:
“The UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women Campaign invites
governments, UN agencies, civil society organizations and individuals
from all countries of the world to mark the days between 25 November and 10 December
(the 16 Days of Activism) by coming together to step up efforts to end violence against women and girls.
We invite you to “ORANGE THE WORLD: END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS” BY participating in and organizing “orange events” in support of the UNiTE Campaign.
THIS YEAR WE WANT TO KEEP THE WORLD ORANGE THROUGHOUT THE 16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM and we invite you to consider organizing your activities not only on 25th November but on the other days too.
Join us, take action, orange the world, keep it orange for days, and call for political commitments to be matched with meaningful ACTION and adequate RESOURCES to end
violence against women and girls worldwide.”
~ UN Women
Indrani will be posting a personal video message almost every day of this 16-Day campaign, calling for action to end violence against women and girls. Here is Indrani’s first campaign video and “Call to Action” for YOU!
Join us on Twitter @indranis_light #orangetheworld #16days
I have been working in India for the past few weeks and I am back on the soil of the good old USA. The trip was thrilling and productive and the whole team brought their best game.
One particular bit of information stands out for me.
One of the members I met in India told someone that “Indrani was so normal and down-to-earth and we really got to see who she was.”
I was quite surprised as I never see myself as anything other than down-to-earth and me being me.
It was explained to me that the team in India did not know me as “me” but as a philanthropist who has invested in a project.
My photo is boldly displayed, (which kind of scared me, truth be told) and my bio is on the poster and I was simply a one dimensional character that blocked the doorway when they were in a hurry to get into the office.
I am glad I did not show up as that flat personality.
I greeted them with hugs and laughter.
We did the training and I burst into song and dance (caught of video, to my chagrin) and insisted that they all sing and dance with me.
We visited projects in the field and instead of sitting down as a proper lady should, I heard the singing and drumming and my Trinidadian feet just started moving to the beats. Soon the abuse survivors were up on their feet and dancing with me.
The Executive Director simply said, “What an ice breaker.”
I keep forgetting that there is ice to break!
I keep forgetting that people don’t know me as I know me.
And that is ok.
The only person who needs to know me is ME.
I need to remember who I am…
A survivor of abuse turned thriver in a full life.
A woman who dreams about ending abuse globally to women and children.
A person who has lived many years and has much love left to share.
As long as I remember these few tidbits, I will be ok.
My environments may change…
AND I stay the same.
I laugh out loud.
I smile big and bold.
I see the divine in everyone.
A person on the trip asked me how it was that I don’t get sad with all the survivor stories and I said that I know their pain will go away so I focus on their courage and bravery and see only their divine selves.
There was a time when I would have readily accepted that “people like like me” don’t belong on global and powerful platforms such as the UN stage.
There was absolutely nothing in my background that would have prepared me to think that I was worthy of this honor or to belong to this exclusive club. “Spoke at the UN” is indeed beyond my wildest dreams.
What right do I have to claim such esteemed membership?
I received this right from the other clubs to which I belong.
I belong to the club of the abused. I belong to the club of the oppressed.
I also belong to the club of the women who said NO MORE.
The club of domestic abuse ends in my lifetime…. the club of claw and scratch your way out of stinking thinking and claiming a life of joy and peace.
These are the foundations upon which I stand to celebrate the new club membership that I have earned.
I urge you to begin to name the clubs to which you have belonged and to begin to lay the foundations for and build the bridges to the clubs you wish to join.
I should tell you that I never dreamed of being in the UN club and that is ok. You see, I was laying these foundations as I strove for other memberships such as:
The club of women over 50 who do Olympic distance triathlons and come last and have the nerve to still feel pride.
The club of 2 marathons the year I turned 50 and several half marathons in the ensuing years.
The club of founders for a non profit.
The club of motivator and encourager of all I meet.
So it is with this beneath me and behind me that I urge you to gain membership to new clubs. These memberships will require hard work. The price of admission will often seem to steep. In times of such stress, take a break, take a breath AND continue to strive. The membership is worth the effort.
Let us all belong to the club called “I too took a chance.”
Recently I was on a flight to an important business meeting. I was very organized and even brought my lunch from home so I would have a healthy choice.
I made it easy on myself, I packed the food in disposable containers and put it in its own bag so I could throw away the whole thing when I was done.
Things went very well, I ate a little, took a little nap and then ate some more. The attendant came around and I pushed the trash into the rolling cart myself.
Then, I had a thought… did I throw my telephone away in the food bag?
I reached under the seat, dragged my purse out and searched every nook and cranny on the inside.
I sat back and took a deep breath.
What was my next step?
Well, that’s easy, go thru the trash!
I walked to the back of the plane and told the attendants my dilemma and they gave me some gloves and I got busy.
I dived into the rolling cart of trash.
I was so happy to have the gloves and to have had the presence of mind to look for my phone while I was still on the flight.
I looked thoroughly. I did not find it.
I had to rethink… if it’s not in the trash then I must not have searched my purse very carefully.
So I walked back to my seat and emptied my whole purse and there, in a very hidden pocket, I found it. I smiled!
Let me tell you what was great about this event:
1. I never, not even once, called myself a name!
2. I never spoke disparagingly about myself to the attendants!
3. I never once complained about having to dig in the trash!
As I sat in my seat being grateful for the positive outcome I realized that there were hidden lessons in this experience.
What if we could identify the very important things in life that we lose, the VERY moment that we lose them? What if, we could arm ourselves with what we need, like gloves for trash diving, and we could happily get the work done?
We would get the work done because we would know that it was too important to lose.
The first time we lose our self respect, we go looking for it and not rest until we figured out what happened.
The first time we disrespected a child by screaming or physically abusing, we would stop and apologize and get help to treat them better in the future.
We would not blame them for our inability to be mature adults.
If we could really look at life and what we lose everyday the way we look at our prized possessions, we have a really great chance of keeping our humanity intact and we have a greater chance of keeping the relationships that are important to us.
Get those emotional gloves on and a start digging for the gifts you may have misplaced.
It’s your quality of life and it’s worth the effort.
I was speaking to a very dear friend the other day.
She said that she had 6 beautiful bowls that someone had given to her a long time ago.
The other day she noticed that there were only 3 and she realized that some of them were broken.
She felt happy that she had 3 left.
She began to tell her young daughter who had been helping with her dishes.
She turned away to do something and heard the awful sound…
She froze and realized that something had broken.
She did not know what it was. She turned to the sink full of dishes and saw her sweet daughter, shaking and fearful and she heard these words, “Sorry mom it was an accident, I did not mean it. Sorry mom.”
My dear friend said, “Now there are two.”
And then she smiled.
The worry on the daughter melted away and the mom showed her child how easy it was to show compassion and to to teach her child that mistakes can and will happen.
As my friend was telling me this story I saw the realization on her face that her child had been shaking because she fully expected to be yelled and screamed at.
My friend knew that she had been a teller and she had parented with anger in the past.
She also knew that she had been intentional in the way she had been parenting the past few years and that she had significantly changed the energy in the family.
She had been able to forge a deeper connection with her son and she had been showing her daughter what unconditional love really is.
Here, at this moment, it meant that she loved her daughter MORE than she ever could love those dishes.
She chose to NOT break her child.
She chose to parent with understanding and respect.
I have known this woman for a long time. I know how hard this woman has worked to get to a place of peace and tranquility.
I applaud her willingness to change the way she used to parent and to seek new ways and to know that she was doing the best for her kids.
Most people say, “My parents did it this way and I turned out ok.”
My view is why just settle for OK when we can be wiser and better than OK?
Let us thrive as parents and constantly better ourselves so we can raise a brighter generation. One that will know more than we will ever know and will be in charge of the welfare of our grandchildren.
Your donation will be used towards eradicating gender violence, training community leaders and sharing behaviour-change tools with people who are ready to leave violence behind and create a brighter, more peaceful world.