BREAKING POINT

Juliet Acom
Posted December 11, 2019 from Uganda

THE THIN LINE BETWEEN GENDER BASED VIOLENCE AND MENTAL HEALTH.

On October 31st 2019, Vivian, a 30 year old woman was set free from a maximum prison having pleaded served 9 years for arson, malicious damage and intent to cause harm to her employer and the office premise. During the trial, she maintained that she doesn't know what happened but simply that she blacked out and came back to her senses to find herself running from the scene with a polythene bag holding matches, an old rug and a bottle of petrol. She also sustained burns to her fore arms and part of her face.

It took numerous visits from her Lawyer / counselor to the prison facility to get her to admit that she had been a victim of rape and consistent verbal abuse by the team leader of her department at work. It started as an innocent request for her to take on extra work after office hours and on weekends - which she viewed as an opportunity garner experience and extra money which she believed would enable her return to school to complete her CPA. Then the advances from her boss begun and at first she ignored them thinking he would inevitably back off but instead he started to berate her infront of her colleagues during office hours and to blame her for any departmental mistake during staff meetings. She braved it until the day he abruptly returned after everyone had left and she was working overtime and raped her before hastily leaving her on the office floor bruised and broken and driving off. All she remembers is being too shocked to scream and he threw a hankie at her telling her to "clean her mess".

Vivian went to a nearby clinic for first aid, she remembers telling the nurse that she would go to the police and convinced her that she would be okay on her own. She never went to the police station but instead went home that evening and appeared at office the following day pretending to be okay. What she found was a termination letter citing her incompetence.  she went and set the office premise on fire out of anger and another emotion that she can't explain. During her trial she received a lot of abusive texts from her colleagues who lost jobs to the fire after the company was closed. How I wish she had spoken out?! She lost 9 years of her career to this, her two year old son lived with her mother for the 9 years she was incarcerated after her fiance abandoned him but most of all she carried this burden all by herself for a long time.

Today with the help of her lawyer and her mother, Vivian is determined to help women in similar situations to speak out - she is determined to take one day at a time to rebuild her bond with her son as she sets up her NGO.

I hope this story will encourage someone to speak out before it is too late. Violence leads to emotional and mental breakdown.

 

This story was submitted in response to Gender-Based Violence.

Comments 13

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Tamarack Verrall
Dec 11, 2019
Dec 11, 2019

Hi Juliet,
Thank you so much for posting this story and raising awareness of what all too often lands women in jail. Such violence can break the spirit of any strong woman. What good news that she has had the support of a good and understanding lawyer, and her mother. Her story is so similar to those I heard over 10 years when I was able to be in the women's prisons here in my country to meet with women inside. Many of them are now also, as Vivian is, out in the community and working to support other women.
I love the photo.
in sisterhood,
Tam

Juliet Acom
Dec 12, 2019
Dec 12, 2019

Hi Tam,
Thank you for the encouraging words. I feel compelled to use some of my time next year to make as many visits as possible to women in prison. This story has opened my eyes to the need to speak out!
Have a pleasant day!

Anita Shrestha
Dec 11, 2019
Dec 11, 2019

Thank you for shariing

Juliet Acom
Dec 12, 2019
Dec 12, 2019

Hi Anita,
Thank you for taking the time to read Vivian's story.
In sisterhood,
Juliet

Anita Shrestha
Dec 11, 2019
Dec 11, 2019

Thank you Sis

Jill Langhus
Dec 11, 2019
Dec 11, 2019

Hi Juliet,

Wow! Such a sad story:-( Thanks for sharing and spreading awareness around violence, mental health and the connection between the two.

I hope you're doing well and having a great week?!

XX

Juliet Acom
Dec 12, 2019
Dec 12, 2019

Hi Jill!!!!,

Thank you for taking the time to read the story. It is always a pleasure to hear from you.
Thanks and a pleasant week to you too!
Seasons greetings on that note :)

Jill Langhus
Dec 13, 2019
Dec 13, 2019

Hello lovely:-)

You're welcome! How are you doing?

Aw, thanks! You, too:-)

Happy Holidays:-)

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 11, 2019
Dec 11, 2019

Hello, Juliet,

I love how you connect gender-based violence and mental health. Thank you for sharing Vivian's story with us. Nine years is a lot of time. I'm glad that her story has a redemptive "ending". Thank you for raising your voice about these two concerning issues.

Juliet Acom
Dec 12, 2019
Dec 12, 2019

Hi Karen,
How are you? Thanks for taking the time to read this story and share your thoughts.
Seasons greetings to you all the way from Kampala

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 13, 2019
Dec 13, 2019

Hello, love,

All is well with me by God's grace. The pleasure is mine, dear. Ohhh, how lovely. Seasons greetings to you, too, from Cebu, Philippines! Hugs! Have a great weekend!

Lisbeth
Dec 12, 2019
Dec 12, 2019

Hello Juliet,
Thanks for sharing this sad and tragic story of Vivian. This is so traumatic indeed!

You see the victimization is great that is why she might not want to admit. At the same time hiding it and keeping silent will make you go crazy.
It's good you came to her aid. Keep up the hard work.
Warm regards

Tarke Edith
Dec 12, 2019
Dec 12, 2019

Hello Juliet
Thank you for sharing this sad story with us .but we are happy that justice was prevail toward her .
Dear we will not stop tweiting about this issue of GBV untill is listern to .
Love you sis