There’s something about someone touching your body against your will that just never leaves you. It can be as *simple* as a hand placing itself a little too low on your body; it sends a morbid shiver down your spine. That hand is then removed, leaving along with its owner whose nonchalant face is now forever embedded in your mind. You can still feel the heat coming off of their skin and burning yours; the kind of burn that leaves a scar. You never fully recover.
This was just a *simple* hand placing itself on your body as if it belonged to them. Suddenly what you believed belonged to you and protected you no longer serves its purpose. Your self-image, self-worth, self-anything is shattered. See it's never that simple... So where do you go from here?
Abuse against women is a heinous crime that happens all around the world; every second of every day. From sexual, to physical, to verbal, the list is quite long. The Arab world has built a wall of stone so thick and so high to hide behind. The Arab world has shied away from talking about abuse against women for far too long. This ends now.
One of my favourite people, Layla Akil, has taken the most courageous step and openly spoken about her experience with sexual abuse at a very young age and her fear of speaking up. In her Youtube series, Perfection 101, she has chosen to take on one of the most pressing issues in our world today: Abuse against women. As a previous victim myself – no, definitely not a victim – a survivor, I cried watching this episode. I don’t think there’s a woman I know today who hasn’t been abused in some way; and it is absolutely heartbreaking.
In this episode, Layla is joined by life coach Mais Mohammad to discuss the mental effects of abuse and the steps you can take to begin to heal. The emotional repercussions of abuse are monumental. Mais states, "Just like a physical wound, you must attend to your mind in order to prevent the infection from spreading further into your body."
As an Arab woman, I am fully aware that not everyone has the freedom of coming forth and saying “I was abused, I need help”; in fear of what their families might do. Therefore, both Layla and Mais have offered to help any woman out there with no one else to turn to. It will remain fully confidential.
The episode ends with martial arts expert Linda Chambers joining Layla to teach her some essential self-defense moves. Talk about some girl power.
You may be reading this and thinking “No one’s ever laid a hand on me” or “It’ll never happen to me”, but when one woman in our community is injured, we all suffer. Come forth with your stories, share your experiences, and make a change in this world that is desperate and aching to heal. Be a safe haven to someone who needs shelter or a shoulder for a friend to cry on. There is no act of kindness too small.
And to Layla Akil, thank you for being the voice every woman is looking for.
Let’s break that wall of stone.
You can watch the full episode here: