I ugly-cried the day Unchained at Last started following my social media account. I can best describe it as a moment of relief, and a sense of validation and safety.
As a survivor of a forced child marriage, I finally felt seen and I finally felt heard.
People in society do not realize how much the realities of women and girls who are victims of child marriage are cast aside, and belittled every day.
We are told to get over it. We are told to move on because it happened a long time ago, so nothing should be the matter now. We are told to be happy now because we are past it.
We are told to brush all of our trauma aside.
I tried that. I picked up a blanket, and brushed it under. I pretended it didn’t happen. I did that for many ears and tried to exist in this society like everyone else. But I just couldn't fit in. My conversations felt different. My existence felt different. My interactions felt different.
The dust I brushed under that rug still lingered, and eventually everything around me, felt like it was rotting and dying.
Don't you see it around you?
Children ignored and cast aside like fodder
The women who set themselves on fire
The men who beat their wives and children
All dusts of trauma from past generations who have not learned their lessons
These are lingering trauma from governments not paying attention to their citizens.
So you see, my struggles all these years to try to get out from underneath that rotting carpet, and filthy dust that surrounded me, and to clean myself of all the toxins that were filled in my head, that formed in lumps of forget-about-its, finally felt validated, when Unchained at Last saw me. They really saw me.
When Unchained At Last acknowledged my existence, I felt like this clean and secure blanket of sunshine had taken over me. Telling me my experiences, and everything I have to say, is justified. And every trauma I experienced and speak about is the truth. And every venture I seek, will happen. It is a moment of validation that is difficult to truly express into words, an emotional moment of enormity that is difficult to put down in paper. A moment that will always bring me to tears when I talk about it, because it is a moment – as a survivor – that will always be so important to me. A moment in my life I will look back on. More importantly, a moment I want all survivors who are looking to get out, to have.
So this is why:
I want you to have conversations about child marriage in the United States and all across the globe.
I want you to discuss the difficulties your ancestors faced and how that psychologically impacted the relationships in your own families and communities.
I want you to discuss the disparity on how the girls are being raised in your family, compared to how the boys are being raised.
I want you to call out the differences in language choice by parents when they speak to the boys in your family vs. the girls in your family. The sexism language we hear on a daily basis.
Have these blunt, tough conversations.
They will make people uncomfortable at first. They will shun you. They will ignore you. They will brush you off. They will even think you’re being brainwashed. The reason they’ll do that is because the human brain automatically goes to what it already knows, and it takes more energy to learn something new as it has been conditioned to think a certain way. So any new line of thinking that challenges a pre-set frame of thought is ignored. But eventually a new creative light will emerge *ping* like a light in a dark tunnel.
And they’ll find there are ideas and places they’ve never been before. They’ll also realize that those places were hidden from them by these preset notions that had been growing on top of each other, like an overgrown foggy forest. One just has to cut through the weeds to see the sunshine and feel the light.
Unclutter your mind and realize that the old way of thinking just keeps reverting you back to a swamp where you’ll just drown in quicksand.
I want you to come out of that swamp, and feel the sunshine.