Melinda Gates said “A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult.” As women, as survivors, finding our voices can be difficult, it has been difficult. As women, over the years our voices have been stolen from us, we have been told that what we have to say is not important, not worthy of contribution. As women, we have had our bodies used and abused, we have been bargaining chips, our bodies have been used as battle grounds, as sales pitches, as merchandise. As women very often we have been reduced to/ valued for our physical attributes. Throughout history women, have been told that their voices need to be silenced to protect everyone else, their countries, the men who have abused them, the systems that have let them down and betrayed them, the families that have been embarrassed or shamed by the abuse inflicted on them. As women, finding and using our voices has been difficult because more often than not, you are instructed not to use your voice. To be quiet for the sake of everyone else, to hide your pain, suffering, to be quiet about your accomplishments and the dreams that have been realized.
Women/Girls are told that they should be seen not heard. That has truly been expected of them in every aspect of life. International Women’s Day celebrates women who have made a difference over the years. They were the women who made noise, they chose to work against being silent, they chose to be heard, they chose to fight back. Not all of us are at that stage. Not all of us are able to find and use our voices, not all of us are in a position to fight back, not all of us can afford to be noisy. But today, on International Women’s Day we celebrate all women; because we all make a difference, many in small silent ways that do not get noticed on a large scale but change the lives of someone on a small scale. There are many strong women who are fighting in the ways in which they can quietly. They should not be forgotten or overlooked, because those women are also impacting someone’s life. Bravery, Warrior, Revolutionary, Survivor, Victim, these are words that mean different things to different people, these are words that are portrayed in different ways. These are words that resemble many women around the world who silently work tirelessly for those around them. While we may not see their faces on our screens, they are working to make a difference, they are using their voices in the best way they can.
Survivors, find it difficult to find their voice, they find it difficult to share what has happened and how they have been affected, largely because we do a terrible job of listening, responding and validating. We live in a world that blames women for being silent after being sexually assaulted but then is also quick to interrogate them for the assault perpetrated against them. We ask that women have a voice but chastise them when that voice is used. What will it take for the assaults against women to be taken seriously? At what point will everyone else stop having a say on what happens to our bodies? How many more years before crimes against women are treated like crimes? How many more years before victims/survivors of sexual violence are allowed to use their voices to share their stories without fear of being blamed for the crimes committed against them? Let us require that change happens in 2018, let this be the year that women are seen and heard. That the crimes committed against them are treated seriously, that the criminals are held accountable, that the governing systems create protocol for addressing sexual assault survivors. Let 2018be the year that saying that I AM A SURVIVOR, that using your voice and your story to empower and validate other survivors isn’t something that you are ashamed of, isn’t something that you are made to feel ashamed of. LET 2018 BE THE YEAR, WOMEN ARE SEEN AND HEARD BEING NOISY USING THEIR VOICES. Be noisy, be brave, use your voices in the ways that you feel comfortable, in the ways that keep you safe. Everyone of us is at a different stage on our journey to womanhood, your journey is your own, don’t judge yourself based on anyone else’s journey. Take your time, learn who you are and what you want. Know that you have something valuable to contribute when you are ready.
We would like to serve as the safe place that you can come to seek support and validation through your healing process. We understand that this is a big step that not everyone is ready to make yet, we completely understand. Don’t be hard on yourself, when you are ready we will be here. For those of you who are ready, please feel free to call, text or email us. We at PROSAF are always here to listen and support you. Feel free to contact us via the information below. Remember you are not alone. You are strong & brave. You will get through your healing process but it takes time and patience. We are here to help and listen. Feel free to contact us if you ever need a place to offload or vent.
HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
Souyenne Dathorne & Velika Lawrence