Rising above adversity and healing from pain is inherently possible in every human. The key to making that happen is choice. For me, making the choice to rise out of my own adversity to help other people was a rewarding extension of my life’s pursuits. Here is my story …
My name is Iniobong Usanga. I am an Irish citizen with Nigerian roots. I was in a reproductive-abusive marriage, after being married to a man who confessed that he did not love me, and had married me only to get back at his ex. I was forced and bullied to leave Nigeria, and then became a single mother with no help in a new country – Ireland. It was only in 2014 that I decided to make formal an organization that I created over 10 years ago to help victims of abuse. I was a victim of sexual and domestic abuse and it almost cost me my life. My family rejected me when I decided to stand up for myself after deciding that I wanted no more abuse. I now use my voice to help others like me in the past.
Early in 2014, I finally made a personal decision to break my silence, come out in the open and speak about my experience and journey through sexual and domestic abuse. It was very challenging and frightening for me to accept that I had been abused. I was always in denial at first. The shame, embarrassment, stigma, labels and many other things weighed down on me, but I said to myself that I had a choice to either remain silent and wallow in self pity and pretend nothing ever happened or swallow my pride, or, I could break the silence, free myself from the burden of shame and help others who are probably experiencing the same faith as I did in the past.
I have been helping people, particularly children, young people and women affected by abuse, but I never made the personal connection. I always concealed my experience due to shame, denial and family values so I never spoke out. I was still on a voyage to where I thought I wanted to be, but I thought it was time nonetheless to join the many voices speaking out against abuse. I felt it was time to come out and offer my help and support to people especially children, young people and women in a more conscious way. Besides, I wanted people to able to connect and engage with me in a more personal way. I wanted to offer people hope and make them know their determination combined with some support; can help them move from victims to victors from dependency to self sufficiency from crises to new arising. People can actually live a new and transformed live.
My journey started with me telling my story to an audience of nearly 50 people unknown to me for the very first time. I felt relieved and a sense of accomplishment because it was very challenging for me to come out in the open and talk about myself in that sort of way. Thing is I had never done anything like this before. I could feel the nerves, panic and all the other emotions that come with that. A few months down the line, I decided that I would always share my story. For me, for people who are currently experiencing what I had gone through, for survivors, for those who feel stock, for those who have given up hope and those who want to make a fresh start. I challenge anyone to be able to put into words the feeling you gain from helping another human being, especially those who haven’t felt much love, compassion, kindness, friendliness, empathy and support from another person. It’s a feeling that I feel words cannot really describe and it’s a feeling that once you know it, you never want to lose or let it go.
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Have you ever been told you can't because you're a girl?
This is one of many reader entries designed to encourage and inspire other women to rise to the challenge and follow their dreams. Have you ever been told you can't because you're a girl? Share your story!