Introducing myself

Urmila Chanam
Posted September 28, 2015 from India
An old picture of when my daughter was just three. My best companion
Me, my daughter and mom in happy times far away from violence
Me, my daughter and mom in happy times far away from violence (1/2)

Five years ago, I googled 'women and violence' in a particular state of mind I was in and found World Pulse. Little did I know that down these many years one day I will be writing my introduction in this group to tell about my story with violence toother womenin different corners of the world that World Pulse helps connect. If this is destiny( of finding respite in this wonderful family of supporters, friends and sisters all united by the desire to connect, listen and help), I wish the same destiny to every woman who has lived with violence in her life and has either walked away or is battling with that possibility.

I lived eight long years in an abusive marriage to a man who made me believe every time he hit me, that, he had a problem and he needed me to overcome it. I had known him all my life and I believed him and I was hopeful he would change. The reasons of his hitting me changed over the years and so did the frequency, the extent of physical damage to my body parts and the diminishing trend of apologising. I reached one stage where no apologies and justifications would come my way and everyone in the household would go about doing things ordinarily except for me. They had gotten used to my forgiveness and life going on.

The most humilitaing thing about being beaten, kicked, slapped, pushed or punched is the blow you get physically and your own inability to defend yourself or even hit back. It teaches you that there is some kind of inequality- either you love him more than he loves you so you just can't get to hit him in self protection or you are weak physically to defend yourself. Both these feelings are not good. I still don't know what is the reason why I just accepted to receive that hurt and injury. Had a good mind left me?

One day I just walked out of the door, carrying my three year old daughter. When I walked out, I had a t-shirt on my back and a pair of old jeans and Rs 800 in my wallet.I walked in a daze and till I got into the interstate bus all the way to my parent's home which was like a little under 1000 kilometres, I had no sensation. I didn't feel scared, sad, angry, anxious, cold, hot, hungry-nothing at all. I just sat with my daughter in the window seat. It was when I reached my hometown, the first tear wet my cheeks.

I was home.

That day was eight years back. It is surprising how I can still go back to that day and feel the same feeling I did back then. Only that this time I am not the same woman. I am not the same person. I will not accept just receiving. I will ask questions and correct the wrong. I will challenge what is my right and chase my dignity. I will go back and open the same door I walked out through.I am going back to resolve the terrors of my mind I have not been able to resolve. I believe it is the right time for me to do it.

I am here to join this group on World Pulse to connect and share with sisters around the world who have seen violence in their lives and I KNOW together we will heal, resolve, draft solutions for others so that they never have to go through this again.This is my first step to meet myself of eight years ago.

I am sorry I forgot to tell you my name.

I am Urmila Chanam. A domestic violence survivor.

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Surya Simon
Sep 28, 2015
Sep 28, 2015

Dear Urmila,

I am very happy to know that you have gotten out of that marraige and that you have transformed and uplifted yourself. It is very difficult to let go. A lot of my friends/ colleagues who have domestic problems including violence inflicted by the men, have shared with me the difficulty they faced to leave their broken marriages. They hold onto it not knowing why. They told me that they realised later the reasons why they could not let go. The reasons were the same somehow. One reason is what you told: the hope that the man will change and that hope comes out of your love and willingness to not give up on your relation. Another reason was that: it is not easy to just break away from a life you have gotten used to, particularly when you are not sure of what lies ahead. They all said that taking that first step is the most difficult. You felt numb when you left that house with your three-year old daughter. But, that was the step towards freedom. That step was what makes you stronger and confident of yourself. I hope you inspire a lot of women through your story. Many are still bound by the shackles of a loveless marriage suffering violence and bearing it for their children.

One thing I understand is the attitude of relatives. They will just get used to the whole routine and turn a blind eye towards your suffering because it is easy to do that. I have seen it happen even in my family. We have ourselves and that is all we got in such situations. Courage is what you showed Urmila and I am proud of what you have done. I am sure that you will guide your daughter well and she will be more aware of her choices.

Keep going! We are all there!

Regards,

Surya

Urmila Chanam
Sep 29, 2015
Sep 29, 2015

Dear Surya,

I found your friend's request following your comment on my story. In other words, I earned a friend in sharing my story. This is the best returns I have got in exchange for unburdening my feelings on this space.

The day I wrote this story, I wrote on Facebook:

"Until the day you sum up the courage to get up and tell your personal story , you will also not meet and connect with those who either lived a similar life or who understand."

I am so happy to find a new friend. 

I will tell any woman who is getting hit in her house that marriage was to give you protection and security, not take it away. Your spouse was meant to make your life more complete not rob its very meaning. 

Warm regards

Urmila Chanam

Surya Simon
Sep 29, 2015
Sep 29, 2015

Dear Urmila,

I am proud and happy to have you as my friend. I am inspired by the works you have done and your campaigne against taboos and stigmas associated with menstruation.

You are a brave woman.

We are all there!

Regards,

Surya

Girish Singh
Sep 28, 2015
Sep 28, 2015

Dear Urmila, This story of yours transports me back to that day 8 years ago when you walked out of your wedding disillusioned, sitting on a bus to reach your parental home miles away. It's said there is no experience like 'pain'' and you got it both physically and emotionally. The physical wounds heal faster but it's the emotional one that lingers on. The challenge lies there. Hats off to you for braving it up and not allowing that emotional wound to fester . Since you repeatedly talk of World Pulse as the source of your succour in those difficult times, I am sure all you needed to take off in the second phase of your life was a listening ear. The strength was already within you. Regards, Girish

Urmila Chanam
Sep 29, 2015
Sep 29, 2015

Dear Girish, Thank you for reading my story and for understanding what I might have gone through in all the years of struggle. I think more than disillusionment over my marriage, I was suffering from confusion over if I was doing the right thing walking away and if the degree of physical assault called for my actions. In the society we live, we grow being taught that a woman must bear 'everything' and that is the price of keeping a home. The way I swung in between these two pillars of decision taking robbed me of my precious youth and the best years of my life. I wish we educate our children especially our girls that ABC is the limit and beyond that XYZ should be done rather than broad and generalized statements like ' this is how it is for every woman in her marriage'. My question is who is going to define and quantify what comes within the ' this'?

Thanks once again for the upbuilding words.

Warm regards,

Urmila Chanam

Stella Paul
Sep 29, 2015
Sep 29, 2015

My dear Urmila

Once, a friend told me never to unrecognize or unown anything in life because "everything is a blessing". It puzzled me then: how on earth can violence and injustice be a blessing?

But later, once I had overcome the hurt within, I realized what she meant: sufferings, icluding the ones that rob your dignity and your peace, also give rise to your other powers - the power to gather your inner, undiscovered strength, to fight, to rise above, to win and to move on and beyond.

If those dark days didn't engulf your inner spirit, we would not have this beautiful and wonderful leader in you.

But the salute doesn't go to the violence or its perpetrators, it goes to you alone - the one in you who rose and took charge of her destiny. The salute goes to the brave self in you who not only emerged out of a dark tunnel into light, but also dared to tell this story to the world. Mind you, there are very few who dare open a bleeding wound in their hearts and seek a closure.

As you march ahead, it is indeed a courageous and wise move to also look back and see where you were and how far you have come. So do look back, and do feel happy and proud of this tremendous journey you have made. Its a moment to celebrate. I join you in this with a heartful of love!

Urmila Chanam
Sep 29, 2015
Sep 29, 2015

My dear sister Stella,

I weep reading your words of love and encouragement and how wonderful it feels to be understood and how amazing it feels to be told to look back and see the distance you have walked. It feels like I have entered a cosy home at the end of a tiring journey and hot food, cold water and a soft bed awaits my aching bones.

Three years ago, a sister from World Pulse told me my time will come when I will be able to talk about my pain but I would also think about that possibility and that would bewilder me. I would  think why will I ever want to talk about a painful episode. But as life progressed and everything else settled around me, a voice inside me was still craving to check with the person I was that many years ago. This disclosure was important to me if it was not improtant to any other soul. But I also know someone in a similar situation will think twice reading about this.

Thanks for the love.

Hugs and kisses,

Urmila Chanam

Leina
Sep 29, 2015
Sep 29, 2015

Hugs to a brave woman,a shero who has been saved to serve.You went through this so that wisdom and empathy will be your closest companions as you fulfill your assignment as an activist.I will always say a former patient makes an excellent doctor.Keep the strength and courage darling sister Urmilla!!!

Urmila Chanam
Sep 29, 2015
Sep 29, 2015

My dear Chi Yvonne,

You have been my pillar of strength and I cherish you sister!! Always be there.You are so right that to be able to understand a thing in its entirety, it is important to have experienced it.

Hugs

Urmila Chanam

Upasana Chauhan
Sep 29, 2015
Sep 29, 2015

I am Speechless Urmila .. Before I even say a word I really want to hug you tight and say out Loud that Be Proud of Yourself :) .. Bravo . Life is not a Cake walk for us . Especially when you are always asked to ADJUST\BOW DOWN to Violence. What you shared with us, I really Respect you for that. Not everybody have the courage. I am so sure you must be feeling so lighter today.

You were so Courageos to walk out that Door with your Daughter and the best part is you had no Feeling. Coz If you have had any feeling, you would have gone back to that Door. Trust me Urmila , not everybody can do it. You haven't just saved yourself but you have given a new beautiful world to Bunbun also. She grew up under your fearless shelter and she will be the bravest girl.

Never feel bad or regret that why it took you 8 years to walk out of that door. You were kind and nice enough to give him so many chances. Karma works in it's wonderful ways. Look at you Today , You are shining everyday. Struggle, hard times, Such ridiculous people teach us one thing - BE STRONG. May be a weak, soft heart Urmila entered the Door of marriage but what came out of that door was beaming, shining, Strong , Courageous and POWERFUL Urmila. You are an inspiration for many women who fear to walk out of a marriage thinking that their life is over. You are a living example of how Life doesn't ends without your so called Husband but Begins :) . You are the courage of the weak sisters who think that they cannot be independent. You are their strength. You are the Sun and the Star whoz beaming out just light and path irrespective of your burns. 

Pledge today that you will Never Ever even for a minute let any past haunt you coz YOU MY GIRL slammed that haunting door and walked off with your chin high . 

I LOVE YOU MORE 

Urmila Chanam
Oct 08, 2015
Oct 08, 2015

Dear Upasana,

I am so grateful for your understanding and love. In all these years, that alone has made both me and my kid overcome the hard times and find a life AGAIN! I thik the suffering does not stop with moving away from violence and getting smashed beyond repair both in spirit or body but also the way people treat you after you walk away. Till today I am facing that and it never ceases ever but what ceases is your reaction to this. I have begun to find solutions within me and have stopped being sensitive to people who want to still subdue or judge me.

Stay in touch!

Much love,

Urmila Chanam

Kelly Daniel Mukwano
Sep 30, 2015
Sep 30, 2015

Ohh dear, this is a very great article,I admire the strength with which you share a part of you with the rest of us. I personally grew up seeing a lot of violence towards women by men in my community,it all left very many trobling images and memories in my life. I wish I could turn back the time and stand up those cowards who violeted the rights of other women then. But since I can not turn back time, I have vowed in my life to always stand up for equal treatment of all persons, I stand for women's rights everywhere. I stand with you Urmila

Urmila Chanam
Oct 08, 2015
Oct 08, 2015

Dear Kelly,

Sharing is so difficult and it took me 8 years to be able to do it but now that I have done it and it's out, I feel a burden come off my shoulder. When is the right time to share is also a very important aspect of sharing because if the time is not right, if its too early you might have not healed and not ready to deal with issues in your head. If it is too late there may be no benefit whatsoever. Thanks for reading and understanding.

Love and prayers, Urmila Chanam

Sister Zeph
Sep 30, 2015
Sep 30, 2015

I wish I was there to give you a big hug and to tell you that you are not a common women, you have changed a very bad and sad reality into a hope with your courage of taking a decision to leave him, not only this but took this stand for many other women who are facing this torture every day.

some men in our society think if they will humiliate women others will think they are brave and they have a power to control  women, but this is not a control, only scared men do such things, a real man never hit a woman, he just gives her respect and love, because women only deserve respect and love, but if we want women to get them their this fundamental right, they will have to fight for it, not like those men who are cowards but they have to get awareness of their rights, they will have to become empowered and they will have to learn to say No to this violence, and you and I and all world pulse sisters will help them to do it as we are doing already 

You are my inspiration, I respect you and I love you , remember you are not alone , your sister Zeph is there for you always 

Urmila Chanam
Oct 08, 2015
Oct 08, 2015

My dear Zephaniah,

You have said something here that echoes my own belief that cowardly men hit women and girls. These are men who have issues and are incapable of handling them. They hit out on people closest to them and after marriage, it is the wife. Nothing changes men who have insecurity and use domination to exercise control. I am so lucky I escaped and now I am here to give testimony that violence kills the spirit of women and with no spirit left in you, you are a dead body walking about. I also am so grateful to earn a friend like you who has counseled me on matters both related to work and family and both me and my daughter cherish you!

Hugs and kisses,

Urmila Chanam

Achieng Nas
Oct 08, 2015
Oct 08, 2015

Dear Urmila,

Thank you so much for sharing your story. I pray and hope many troubled women around the world will access this post and also that many will share. It's very impactful!

Only strong women come out and share such experiences. There many hurting women around the world today who have struggled and are struggling to "keep up with the standard", dancing to the tunes of violence, waiting forever for change...

Many have died in the process, many are infected with HIV, many are wounded in heart and their entire lifestyles, true characters have been ruined...

Thanks to you and I and many others who fight for their rights. Do you feel much better or worse that when you were with him? I am sure you are far much better without him. This is the fear in the hearts of many women - fearing to risk off the s****d relationships... Hug on there! The right man - the one who will love and respect you will come, trust me!

Thank you so much for sharing your empowering story!

Urmila Chanam
Jan 23, 2016
Jan 23, 2016

My sister Beatrice,

When you hugged me in Kampala, I felt like I was returning home.And so it will be whoever walks out of a traumatic life and enters a life of acceptance, new path and direction, and working to help other women who are struggling to decide when to walk away from violence and if at all, it should be done.

Thank you for reading my story and for your encouragement. I feel much better on my own than be with a man who abused me everyday- physically and menstally. I feel so thankful for having used my mind and walking away. Now I never have to fear again and never have to accept pitiful treatment.

The other day, an old friend of mine came to visit me after 15 years. In that special moment, our conversations were interrupted

by the periodic telephone calls from her husband who she confided was extremely suspicious, jealous and angry and she had been going through physical assault for the last few years. I felt sad to see this transformation of my friend from a young and promising lady to this confused, scared and lying woman. She was intimidated about the uncertain life without a husband. She accepted the beatings and the humiliation as the price she paid for keeping a husband.

I wish women knew that to be able to give joy to others, they first have to find joy themselves and no joy comes without self respect.

Wish you a happy new year sister!!

Hugs and kisses from India Urmila Chanam

Olutosin
Oct 12, 2015
Oct 12, 2015

Thats my Angel, always by your side, Always.

Love you so much everyday

Urmila Chanam
Jan 23, 2016
Jan 23, 2016

Dear Olutosin,

My heart swells with pride to watch your journey of conquering challenges for your self and all the women of Lagos for/with who you work. Thank you for reading my story and for your friendship.

Cheers!

Love and kisses from India Urmila Chanam

Sabiha Hasan
Jul 28, 2016
Jul 28, 2016

Dear sister Urmila,

Your experience is heart tearing but your courage is inspirational. I am proud of you that you decided to break free from that abusive marriage. I am sure you and your baby are doing fine. Besides the best part is that now you are supporting those women who are suffering. You are a true hero,

Hats off to you.

Few weeks ago I read a post fro you that people ask you about website for your work and project. I have started my own NGO i.e. VNoW i.e. Virtual Network of Women. If you are interested in a website. Currently, I can provide you 3-5 GB web space for your project on our website. This is known as collectivism in social sciences. Google this term and if you will be interested you can email at info.vnow@gmail.com. We do not need any money etc from you. Its to help another fellow women social worker.

Thanks,

Sabiha

VNoW Founder