You are not alone
This guest editorial was submitted by a woman who lives in one of Nunavik’s smaller communities. We are withholding her name to protect her from recrimination and abuse.
I am writing this because I am tired of being put down in a society of male-dominated communities where the church says “woman you agreed and made a contract with God to marry your husband for better or for worse, which means you are marrying your husband to accept him even when he cheats on you, even when he beats you up.”
That is what we hear in church when there is a marriage ceremony.
The worried wife hurries and rushes around to do what her husband wants. She gives him all the money she earns and when she does not make money she will look for money anyway so that he is able to get his drugs or his alcohol. She will keep the house clean because he likes cleanliness and order. When he sees just one mess he will either start beating her up or he will get angry and start shouting and swearing. He will call her “useless” and “worthless.” He will say that “nobody loves you,” and call her obscene names.
He will do anything to keep her away from her family by saying bad things about them. He will keep her away from friends and other people. He will break her things and threaten to kick her out. He will drag her, without her clothes on, to the porch. He will lock the door so she can’t get into the house. He will say “the house is under my name, you do not own this house, it is my house.” He will spill tea on her. He will hit her while she sleeps. He will hit her where no one is able to see. He will push her down the stairs.
Children will not be able to cry or scream and when they do he shouts at them. When she is afraid that he might kill her, she tries to defend herself by fighting back but he gets stronger. He locks her inside so she can’t go out. Children will start crying and go to their room.
She hears from her husband and his family that it is “her fault” he beat her up, because Eve ate the apple first. She will hear people say she got what she deserved.
She feels unlovable, unwanted, worthless and useless. She feels the same way she felt as a child when she ran away from her home when she was abused. She thinks that being beaten up is love.
The police may go to her house many times for the same reason. When she asks for help when she wants to keep the house and her children and get him out, she feels discouraged when they ask her “where can he go?”
She does not feel that she can get help from social services because she knows the social worker does not believe her and knows the worker is also afraid to help because of her husband. She thinks she is going crazy. There is nowhere to go for help and safety. There is no place to go.
I would like to say to her that it is not your fault he assaults you. You do not deserve to be hurt and abused. You have every right to do what you want to do. You are a beautiful person. You were born to be alive and free to be who you are. You are a gift and your being alive is a gift. You do not owe anyone for being alive. You are a human being, wonderfully made. You are not alone. What you are going through will pass. You have every right to say what you feel and think. Get help. Think of your children.
I am a woman now. I am able to defend myself with the help of people who love me and support me. I am not a mistake. My life is a gift, whether I do not like it or like it. What people say about me does not hurt me — it is their problem, not mine. I alone can take care of myself and my children. I do not need to take care of others. They are adults who are able to take care of themselves.
I hope that by writing this I will help women, and the communities, help each other against violence.