We’re pleased to present this guest post by our good friend Jenny Zachariah. Jenny is seeking to raise awareness on sexual abuse issues in the South Asian community, a topic our community is unfortunately reluctant to speak forthrightly about. Please check out http://shhh7214.com to learn more.
I am a woman from the South Asian community who lives in the United States.
My culture is great, it values family, tradition and honor, but at the same time my culture hurts when it sets high standards, keeps secrets, and dominates over my feelings.
One thing I cannot stand about my culture is that secrets are kept in the name of honor. Secrets are not always bad, but there are some that are emotionally traumatizing. It is emotionally traumatizing when a girl/boy has to pretend that their body was never touched in a vulgar/sexual manner by their uncle/aunt, family friend, etc. It is emotionally traumatizing when a mother/father tells their son/daughter to keep quiet after their precious child has told his/her parents something they could no longer bottle up inside. It is emotionally traumatizing when you tell your parents that you have been sexually abused by your uncle/aunt, a close family friend, or even a stranger and they do not believe you. Why do they tell you to keep quiet? Why do they not believe you? Why do sexually abused victims keep quiet? It’s all about culture. This issue of sexual abuse has been lingering in our community for generations and it continues to remain hidden all for the sake of family honor, and it has to stop.
To the “victim”: I have so much love for you, it is pretty unfathomable because this kind of love comes from God. I cannot empathize with you because I myself have not been sexually abused, but God has put a burden in my heart to feel as if I was a sexual abuse victim so that I may speak for you all. I want you to know that you are a survivor of sexual abuse in my eyes even though you may not feel that way because you are currently keeping secrets, hiding the pain with a smile on the outside, and feeling wounded. I will tell you why you are a survivor- because you are STILL smiling, because those wounds are able to be healed, and because there are people in this world who are willing to hear your secret and do something about it. Dear survivor, you are not alone.
To the abuser: You made me fume with anger once upon a time, but then I looked at you with the eyes of Jesus and I saw a broken sinner, just like me at one point in my life before Jesus changed my life forever. So now I thank God for convicting me of my anger towards you. I want to tell you that there is all the more grace for you; despite all that you have done, once Jesus meets you and washes you with His blood in your state of filthiness and wretchedness. God looks at you the way He looks at Jesus and then you are looked upon without a single blemish. This call for speaking out against sexual abuse may make you tremble, it might make you feel angry at me for exposing your sin in the light, but that’s just something that was bound to happen. Sin has to come into the light for it to be addressed and confessed, please don’t hide behind this culture all your life, don’t let sin chain you down. There is help. There is forgiveness.There is redemption….in Jesus alone.
To the people who don’t listen: It takes a lot for a sexually abused victim to come and open up to you. Do not let culture, family prestige, or anything else stand in the way of listening. Maybe this issue could be affecting your child/ sister/ brother/ husband/ wife/ friend—-if that relationship is important to you as you may claim, prove it by listening. That is all they want.
My vision is not to accuse the abusers, but I do want to provide an outlet for the voices trapped under this rug called culture to speak out, to seek help, and experience healing if they would like to. I am done with this culture telling me what I cannot do because I am about to show what I can do with my God beside me, behind me and in front of me.
I am starting up an anonymous blog to share survivor stories/testimonies of those who have been sexually abused in this community. For those of you who would like to share I have set up a website to enter in the posts anonymously.
http://shhh7214.com/–This is our website and on the left hand corner of the homepage there is a hyperlink: anonymous posting- this will direct you to a survey monkey link that will allow you to share your survivor story anonymously and then an administer will copy and paste it to the website.
Why am I doing this? Because i believe that stories have power. People say a picture is worth 1,000 words but I think a testimony/lived experience of surviving is worth infinity more.
My intent is not to expose, the intent is to profess a bold statement “you are not alone.”
You are not alone in your room crying
You are not alone contemplating suicide because this secret is too much to bear
You are not alone in your thoughts
You are never alone even in the most isolated place
“No man is an island”- John Donne
There is God, there are people who care and are going through similar situations.
You are never alone.
This is Project SHHH- it stands for She/He. Has. Hope
How can you help? We have created sub-committees to choose from
1)Communications- Facebook, insta, twitter
2)Media—graphics, website building, video, tech stuff, distribute information pamphlets
3) Advertising- tshirts/create pamphlets/ publicity/ word of mouth:representatives from different regions in the U.S(currently we just have Houston and Dallas) to be in charge of advertising
4)Event organizers/planners for worship nights/workshops
If you would like to join me in this movement feel free to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org or message our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/shhh7214/
There is a lot more I hope to do in creating awareness and providing and outlet to speak out. I believe just as much the Lord has put a burden upon my heart, He has done to others likewise.