Sunday, June 05, 2011

A victim’s story about surviving domestic violence

(Originally published in Guyana’s Kaieteur News on 05 June 2011)

My friend and colleague Sukree Boodram handed me a signed copy of her book, “Break Out: Surviving Abuse and Alcoholism,” in March when it was fresh from the publisher and we were in New York for her book signing. My book from Sukree had a loving inscription inside and came wrapped and in a gift bag.

However, I set this precious gift aside, choosing not to read it until now, because I wanted to write this review to coincide with the World Premiere of her documentary that is set for this coming Thursday (June 9) at the Pegasus.

Sukree, being well aware that not all domestic violence victims are literate, invested even more of her own money and made a documentary that mirrored the feel of her book in hopes of helping still more women to understand that there is a way out of the abuse.

I am so proud of Sukree for breaking the silence about her abusive marriage.

Although I have both read the book and viewed an early copy of the documentary, I am going to write about the book today and hope it peaks the reader’s curiosity to come to the free showings of the documentary that will be playing in various locations throughout the country in the next two weeks.

Sukree’s book is about how she ended up as a victim of domestic violence and what she did to break free of it. The book starts in Black Bush Polder, where she grew up, and follows her life as she marries a young man from her area, migrates to the United States and spends 21 years in a marriage that from the very beginning was marked with abuse.

Sukree provides her readers with great detail of how she felt during those long years of abuse, and she is blatantly honest when she conveys the methods of escapism she used to just to be able to handle the abuse.

There were times when Sukree believed she had lost her own sanity, only to pull herself up once again from the depression and fear. She constantly questioned how she could possibly be in such a situation, given the fact that she was a very successful professional and the primary breadwinner in her family.

One truly senses Sukree’s confusion about the abuse, because she grew up in a very loving home and had never been exposed to such ill-treatment before her marriage. However, what stood out most to me were the innumerable times Sukree told herself she should leave the marriage – for her own safety and mental well-being and that of her children – only to find herself staying yet again.

Over and over again, Sukree would attempt to muster the courage to make the break from the abusive marriage, but would end up reconciling with her abuser for love, or fear of the future, or social expectations that dictate that she not divorce, or even out of pity for the abuser. It took 21 years before she was able to find the necessary resolution to make the final break.

Those 21 years were very hard ones. Sukree writes about how she and her children would walk on egg shells around the house, so as not to set off the abuser and be subject to yet more verbal and emotional abuse. I know this feeling all too well, as this was exactly how I lived each and every day while growing up under my mother’s abuse. It is a terrible way to live a life. It is sheer torture.
Sukree finally broke free. She made the decision that she wanted to live a good life – a happy life – and she removed the abuser from her life by way of divorce.

During the marriage, Sukree’s abuser isolated her from her loving family. This is a common tactic in domestic violence cases. However, she is now free to spend time with her family without fear of reprisal. And in support, many of her family members are coming to Guyana this week for the World Premiere of her documentary on Thursday.

When I saw an early copy of this documentary in March, I knew we had to find a way to bring it to Guyana as soon as possible. It was just finalized recently.

Moreover, the Break the Silence, Stop the Violence Team (consisting of Diane Madray from I.M.R.A.R.C. in Cane Grove, Varshnie Singh of Kids First Fund, Sukree Boodram, the author of Break Out, and myself) will be taking this documentary to several communities throughout the country where we will be holding interactive sessions with those in attendance. Everyone is welcome to these events and all events are free.

I know from first-hand experience that as a victim of domestic violence by my mother I had so many questions. Why did she do it? Will she kill me today? How do I make the hurt go away? Why didn’t anyone stop her? How can I trust others now? How do I allow myself to love again? Did she understand what the abuse did to me?

There are just so many questions and it is our hope that victims of abuse will bring their questions to us during these interactive sessions.

Here are the dates, times and locations of the documentary viewing/interactive sessions:
June 9 at Pegasus Hotel in the Savannah Suite, World Premiere! 5:30-8:30 pm;
June 10 at Life Springs Cathedral, 1 Chateau Margot, ECD, 6-8:30 pm;
June 12 at I.M.R.A.R.C., Sahwah, Cane Grove, EDC, 5-8:30 pm;
June 17 at World Harvest Mission, 34 Gay Park, New Amsterdam, 6-9 pm;
June 19 at Grace World Harvest Mission, 67 Sera Lodge, Stewartville, WCD, 11:15-1:15 pm.

If you need more information about any of the events, just send me an email (at the bottom of all my columns) or call 226-5926, 623-8508 or 664-3741.

Hope to see you at one of these events.

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