Finding beauty in my pain.
The thing about a secret is that it can be debilitating. I have been carrying a back breaking one for over 30 years. I thought being silent in my struggle was the only option. One day I woke up and decided enough was enough. I needed to break my silence. The truth is, I am a survivor of sexual abuse.
My story isn’t a unique one but it is one that is seldom told in the south asian community. This secret has haunted me for my entire adult life. I found myself being angry at the world, angry at my family and angry at myself. I felt prisoner to my trauma. The only way to be free of it was to put it out in the world. I knew I needed the support of a community with shared experiences. Through a lot of hard work and emotional soul searching I was proud to assemble a panel of women to share their stories. With the help of Brown Girl Magazine and Sakhi (an organization committed to aiding victims of domestic and sexual violence in the south asian community) we had the framework in which we could tell our stories. All that was left to do was the hard part. Speaking out.
Sharing the floor with my fellow survivors was empowering and heartbreaking. Every last one of these women are accomplished professionals and we were all bonded by the horrors of our past. I had been holding onto this story for so long I had no idea what it would be like when I was exalted from it. This secret which had made me feel less than, even dirty was lifted off my chest like a heavy weight.
The truth is the trauma I experienced in my youth is what brought me to the beauty industry. I don’t like to think of it as a cause/effect relationship but there is a correlation. Like I said, my abuse made me feel dirty. Makeup was a way for me to cover up my “imperfections”. I had found a way to mask my pain.
Now that I am older, I no longer use beauty as a mask. For me, my makeup makes me feel powerful.
The healing is never really over. Sharing my truth and hearing the stories of others has been integral in me letting go of my consuming anger.
I now have a platform in which I can be a role model for others like me. South Asian communities have historically pushed these stories under the rug. No more. I am here to tell you that your story matters, just like mine did and does. There can be no progress in the shadows. There is more power in the truth than a lie. Like I said earlier, my story is not unique, but as one woman on the panel said: “we need to make it better and safer for the next generation”.