Healing from recent or historical experiences of domestic and family violence and social-isolation during and after the abuse is not easy work, nor is it instantaneous. Whether one is the targeted victim of the abuse, or a child or relative of the victim, the healing work in front of them can feel daunting, painful and relentless
This year, during these uncertain and unprecedented times, apart from launching a support line for women, men and children affected by Domestic Violence, Saru Rana founder SHAMSHIR, is focusing on sending self-help strategies and messages for victims and survivors across the globe through SOS—Sending Out Strength as SHAMSHIR’s new initiative in collaboration with Diompillor Kissia SA.
The SOS Movement is internationally backed by world renowned Journalist, Mr Baltej Pannu as its Global Patron. Senior Radio journalist and social activist Mr Baltej Pannu is instrumental in highlighting the shortcomings of our society in his programmes targeted at audiences in Canada, USA and Australia, etc. Baltej Pannu who has his own unique style and rhythm is very well spoken and has a wealth of experience with talk shows on social issues and current affairs. Mr Pannu is the backbone of the SOS Movement that aims to combat domestic violence, abuse and social-isolation initiating from small talks, as he believes ‘a talk can do a lot’.
”As a traumatised victim I placed my emotions at risk and never believed I could have a voice, let alone there is a beautiful way of moving forward to a better and safe life”
— Saru Rana
With rise in numbers of domestic violence cases not only in Australia but worldwide, Saru worry of the ones who are staying silent or are socially-isolated, as to Rana it is a great injustice that not women and children experience direct or indirect abuse, but also carry the weight of the often hard work of self-help as well. To spread the message across the world SOS also have on board two youth Advocates Miss Manpreet Kaur Pannu (India) and Miss Edna Fomba (Australia) and five SOS Ambassadors Ms Loveen Gill (Canada), Ms Sarbjit Athwal (the UK), Ms Simranjit Kaur Gill (India) and Ms Saru Rana and Mr George Fomba (Australia).
Saru herself a survivor of Domestic Violence, who now as an ambassador for SOS states, I’m conscious that any ‘recommendation’ that asks a victim to do something about their abuse can feel like subtle victim-blaming. She said, “As a traumatised victim I placed my emotions at risk and never believed I could have a voice, let alone there is a beautiful way of moving forward to a better and safe life”. Now that these unprecedented times has bought a ‘perfect storm’ in many lives, “hopefully each of our educational and awareness tool act as an inspiring force renewing a sense of empowerment, possibility and hope reviving the parts of the self that are silenced in order to speak up and then survive the violence”, she said.
‘SOS Movement’ honours the courage and pride of all affected, including the victims, survivors, their families and friends. ‘SOS’ sends special silent self-help strategies and loud empowering approaches to all, especially children, adds Saru, “as sadly it is common to believe that children don’t see or hear everything that happens in the home”. Either they are thought to be asleep when the abuse occur, or too young when the abuse happened for them to remember anything. Even if children have heard verbal and emotional abuse and didn’t witness any physical violence, the reality is that they are significantly impacted by abuse.
An international ambassador for SOS, Sarbjit Athwal founder True Charity which is vocal about honour killing affirms, “Domestic abuse is a horrendous crime, which can have a long-term and devastating impact on any victim and particularly children. Abuse will always live with us and its impact on mental health cannot be underestimated. Domestic abuse comes in different forms includes honour based abuse, forced marriage and FGM which are hidden and often go under the radar. The feeling of being trapped, isolated, abused, threatened and to live in constant fear is a pattern every victim lives through, having nowhere to go or anyone to speak to because their lives are controlled by their abusers. The fear prevents them from seeking help. We need to be here for victims when they are ready to speak, seek help and come forward. Social awareness is vital so that we can support victims in every way possible from locations, backgrounds, languages barriers, understanding and most of all building trust”.
Simranjeet Kaur Gill, a lawyer, educates children about physical and sexual abuse. She speaks and acts boldly about issues that children face and the urgent need of educating students about abuse and its Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Ms Gill endorse the ‘need of’ SOS movement considering people don’t like talking about ‘Sex Education’ and don’t understand its importance even though it is extremely important for our youth. Through SOS, we will be sending out loud and clear messages for all age groups about abuse. Working for five years with the victims of child abuse, Simran believes, parents need to understand and trust the children when an abuse is reported. They need to become their children’s friends, to allow the kids to feel comfortable in sharing everything with them. They also need legal awareness.
The Canadian SOS Ambassador Loveen Gill, founder of Amar Karma Health & Wellness Awareness Network, aspires to normalise organ and tissue donation registration with in the community. She believes that health and wellness is synergetic. Believing one’s wellness is connected to that of entire society and vice versa, and therefore, Loveen’s aims to continue working with women and youth in bridging the gaps and bringing awareness. She, through her experience in Journalism strengthens the SOS movement by spreading the much needed message to put a halt on domestic violence, abuse and isolation. She stresses upon the mental well-being of children witnessing violence and SOS being a tool in sending out strength to all impacted.
Whether a child witnessed or experienced verbal, emotional or physical abuse, the impact on his/her behavioural, emotional and physical wellbeing can have long-term effects. George Fomba, SOS Ambassador for Australia and President Diompillor Kissia SA states, “It is important to recognise the effects domestic violence and social-isolation can have on children so that we can understand their feelings and behaviours, and learn how to best help them heal.”
George adds, ‘SOS Movement’ is a practical and most effective way to send powerful messages across the globe that it is possible for all to seek help and heal from experiences of domestic violence, especially for children as they are resilient and through the help of a supportive, healthy parent, have hope in their ability to heal.”
With ‘no escape and fragile resources’ there’s an undeniable truth that many victims of abuse, domestic violence and social-isolation might come out victorious, but will not come out the same. Abuse changes all. SHAMSHIR’s ‘SOS’ initiative highlights ‘a better life is possible’ for victims, survivors and families that are affected by domestic violence, including those who have indirectly experienced domestic violence being an eyewitness to an unfortunate scuffle.
Saru has worked in the field of domestic violence for over 10 years has her own personal experience with abuse, and listens to stories about change from contacts all over the world who share their experiences with her. Saru reveals, “after surviving abuse and domestic violence, people share how they feel broken but hopeful; healed but scarred. It is the strange grey area in which change exists: an ever-present constant that allows us to move on with our lives even after experiencing tremendous amounts of pain and trauma, and in this a little self-help can do wonders.” She further adds, “During or after the abuse, changes in oneself and the way we interact with the outside world might not be so apparent until we go about our day and start feeling amiss. We are still ourselves and yet—we are not the same. And that is OK”.
Many of these changes are rooted in fear. And that is to be expected. Experiencing and surviving abuse can have such a profound impact on a person’s mind, body and soul. But there’s something quite unique about being broken: you are strong, resilient and one of a kind.
With Mr Baltej Pannu’s advice and guidance, the SOS movement is fast catching the momentum at an international level. SOS ambassadors and advocates are all driven with the same believe that a little optimism with self-help to start with can help develop a built-in attitude to be hopeful at times and consider the possibilities of good things happening in life. ‘SOS’ being an international effort from to encourage a shift from negative to positive perspective to help in building resilience, teaches radical acceptance, and motivates in the form of hope to keep going.
As often scars, both emotional and physical, after an experience of domestic and family violence leading to social-isolation can take years to heal, The Indian Sun (Australia), Dompillior Kissia SA, South Asian Voice to Extricate (SAVE) Canada, AmarKarma (Canada), True Honour (United Kingdom), Punjabi Vichaar Manch (India), Beautiful and Fearless (Australia), Raabta Radio (Australia), Mudra Dance Academy (Australia), Suchetak Rangmanch (India), Soaring Eagles Moto Club (India), Ivorian Community SA, Indian Silver Screen and Film Actor Sharhaan Singh, Beauty Queens—Padma Singh (Mrs Australia World 2018), Sarita Ram Menon (Mrs Australia Globe—CURVE 2020) and Australian Artist Barbara Buckland Gibbings have come on board with SHAMSHIR to make the ‘SOS—Sending Out Strength’ Movement vocal in supporting victims to find strength in their journey as survivors breaking the chains of violence and social-isolation through self-help.
“Remember that every cloud has a silver lining. Where there is hope, courage and strength…everything will be possible. You are not Alone”