Here’s a letter I got from a good friend of mine who chose to remain anonymous. I salute her for her courage and hope that tomorrow’s demonstration and many others to follow will give Lebanese women the legal protection needed from abusive husbands.
“Everytime I hear about a woman dying because of domestic violence, every single time, I swear… I think of you. You’re one of the lucky ones. You escaped.”
My best friend just sent me this two months ago. And I have been thinking of how lucky I am ever since!
I’m one of the lucky ones indeed. I escaped.
I live today with my children in a house, next to my parent’s place. Society still didn’t accept my divorce: “walaw! Halla2 tzakkarit titirko?”… And, like many other women victims of domestic violence, and for the sake of my children, their mental health and growth, I still don’t utter a word about the reasons of my divorce. (maybe also to keep myself “safe” because I am not “strong enough” to face him again and fight back… I’m weak and tired of all this…)
But I, I escaped death.
And I don’t utter a word about that neither. Of course.
My parents first felt weird, but ended up supporting me.
Most of my friends still don’t understand the tension I face every time I drop my children at their father or pick them up after the visits he is entitled to (at least I’m one of the “lucky” ones who survived and kept her children! I am double lucky).
And I, myself, still don’t understand the fear I grew towards men.
When I hear the news, I often cry.
I cry because I was lucky to get out alive.
I cry because it was never too late for me.
I cry because no one saw my mother on television weeping my death.
I cry because my brother escaped the crime he would probably have committed after my death.
I cry because I have to sit home and express myself without revealing my face or identity, because that is the only way to protect myself, my children and my family.
But from the bottom of my silence I send a message to everyone out there, to every lady who can hear me, every mother, every daughter, every child who is old enough to read: Get out before it’s too late. Get out alive.
It might be not enough. I want more. We all want more. I want to go out unveiled and shout to who can see me: I survived violence.
Now I can’t. One day maybe. If ever this country reaches a level of protection that would allow me to shout-it-out loud and clear, without putting anyone in danger, without risking of losing my children, without putting my life at risk.
But for the time being, as I wash my face, clear my throat and wipe my tears, I publish this and pray for every woman out there to be a new story of survival.
Happy International Woman’s Day.