March 27, 2018 2 min to read
Surviving to Thriving: Trauma within the Tamil Community
Category : Diaspora, Eelam, Mental Health
In March 2016, Tharshiga and Jenny co-founded and officially launched A.N.B.U(Abuse Never Becomes Us). அன்பு, which loosely translates to Love in Tamil and stands for Abuse Never Becomes Us.
A.N.B.U. is a Toronto based not-for-profit organization to work with survivors of childhood sexual abuse within the Tamil community. ANBU envisions a future where Tamil people who have been impacted by childhood sexual abuse can find their voice. Their mission is to provide healing and empowerment through holistic support, resources, and advocacy on behalf of Tamil people who have been impacted by childhood sexual abuse.
Jenny and Tharshiga are Tamil speaking women with lived experiences of childhood sexual abuse. Sharing stories was empowering and aided the healing process. It also helped to shed light and spark dialogue on childhood sexual abuse within the Tamil community. The lack of Tamil words to describe or explain sexual abuse amplifies the epidemic in the Tamil community, as childhood sexual abuse thrives in silence. History has imprinted our community with not only trauma but also considerable resilience and acts of resistance. Acts of resistance are any mental or behavioural act through which a person attempts to expose, withstand, repel, stop, prevent, abstain from, strive against, impede, and refuse to comply with, or oppose any form of violence or oppression. We are always in the act of doing and never passive recipients of trauma. Highlighting our acts of resistance and reclaiming our voice helped to reduce a sense of isolation and shame, and celebrate ways we/survivors are more than just surviving. This nurtures our belief in building and exploring collective healing.
The lack of Tamil words to describe or explain sexual abuse amplifies the epidemic in the Tamil community, as childhood sexual abuse thrives in silence.
ANBU has a strong commitment to personal and social transformation and wants to draw and build on the community’s strengths to address and prevent childhood sexual abuse. The taboo and stigma associated with abuse as well as the intergenerational ripple effect of abuse is rampant within the Tamil community, as it is within many communities. ANBU believes in our communities inherit healing modalities that have been lost or concealed and intentionally aspires to uncover and implement these community specific methods and shift how childhood sexual abuse is addressed in the community.
The courage and choice to heal from childhood sexual abuse and recognize acts of resistance should be acclaimed so ANBU started with a celebration on January 20, 2017. It was a night of art – painting, drama, poetry, singing and Tamil speakers that shared powerful knowledge regarding appropriate responses to childhood sexual abuse. This launch was held to kick off the ANBU video series that continues to be done every month encompassing a combination of educational and personal conversations regarding the impact and journey of a survivor.
Personally and collectively, we will and are moving from a storyline of surviving to thriving.