The #16DaysofActivism starts on 25 Nov and the theme is Gender Based Violence. Recently I got a chance to interact with Sunny Angel, a survivor, finalist for the Heroine of the Year Award 2017, and author of WINGS.
Sunny sent me the book WINGS and I loved it, and I think that it's a very interesting book for young people. The book is a memoir, a true story, which explores different aspects of gender-based violence, from marital rape, to stalking, to emotional abuse, to honor abuse, to drugs and suicide, to forced marriage, to domestic violence, to victim blaming and a lot more. It's a very inspiring book that portrays the immense courage and strength of Sunny, and how she finds her light.
If you feel that you are alone, you must read her story.
“Be brave, don’t let the light inside you flicker… Keep shining, it’s going to be tough. But your journey will help many others. Even if you help save one life, it will be worth it” - Sunny
Please tell us a bit about you and your book
My book Wings is about my true survival story based on my time 20 years ago, in 1997, when I was a vulnerable teenager. It describes traumatic events from my past such as child sexual abuse, grooming, rape, torture, disownment, gender violence, forced marriage, marital rape, modern slavery, dowry abuse and stereotypes around women, honour and shame, suicide and self-harm. I chose to share my experiences, so others will know they are not alone and they too can find help and seek a better future.
What challenges did you face personally while writing your book? How did you deal with the flashbacks?
I faced several challenges whilst writing the book, namely flashbacks as I revisited scenes in my mind or when I revisited places like the torture house of 1997. I found Reiki (natural healing) to help me a great deal as I’m now a Reiki Grandmaster and I’ve learnt many techniques to let the past go. I also had extensive Hypnotherapy, so I feel detached from the past. I’m living in the moment now and making my list of happy moments grow.
Could you elaborate on how writing the book was a self-healing therapy?
Writing the book was a self-healing therapy for sure. It helped to reflect from a different perspective – as a Survivor and no longer a Victim. You can’t heal when you a still being abused. When I was abused as a child I needed healing. I was still vulnerable. I was then raped and tortured as a teenager. I ‘thought’ I was ‘over it’...but when I was forced to marry to hide the shame I was raped again - but family accepted it as the norm.
I couldn’t heal from the previous trauma because I was still being abused. Many families think they are doing the best by ‘getting rid of the victims’ for the sake of shame and honour, when in fact the victims are being doubly damned. It was only when writing the book and putting the pieces together I realised I didn’t get the chance to heal…until now.
What would you like to say to those girls who have been victims of rape/domestic abuse, and what piece of advice would you like to give them?
My advice to the girls who have been victims of rape/domestic abuse – please honour yourself, love yourself. Be brave. Find a way and get help. You deserve better. Your past does not define you. I too was a victim of rape and domestic violence. The light inside you is still shining bright, find your inner light and shine. I’m sending you my love, from one survivor to another xx
Do you think that more and more girls are willing to speak out their abuse stories, and are there enough incentives for rape survivors?
I think more need to speak out, there are surely not enough incentives...We need more globally.
In what ways did speaking out, and telling your story help you? And how much did counseling changeyour life?
Seeing others come forward and say ‘Me Too’ and send personal messages of how its helped them has made it worthwhile. My scars have a positive purpose now, counseling has changed my life in a positive way.
Tell us briefly about book 2, and what aspects will it explore?
Book 2 is about my Late Husband Ray his death, My travels around the World, Drink and Drugs and so many other taboo subjects. I’m currently writing Ray’s death scene to get the hard parts over with first.
How do you think the youth can help to eradicate gender-based violence, and stereotypes around women?
By talking and taking action within communities, friendship circles and at home.
Lastly, how would you describe the youth in one word
"My scars are now my wings "- Sunny
I hope that Sunny's story inspired you in some way. Gender-based violence is a complex alarming issue but we as young people can help by being kind to survivors, believing them, lending them a helping hand instead of judging them, and understanding that it was never their fault. We can stop victim blaming and choose to spread love, and kindness.