Whenever someone ask me for the history of this organization I try to think of some great and grand thing which happened causing this organization to come into being, I try to think of some eventful and historical moment or work which this organization has done, I try to place some marvelous things which will catch the eye and hearing of the reader. However I always resort to the real history of this organization and that history is Sherna Benjamin.
I may not be a Martin Luther, or Mahatma Gandhi, but I have made a mark, I may not be a Nelson Mandela but I fight for persons freedom each day of my life and I believe that each of us are historians as shape and make history in our corner, each of us are silent heroes and our names shall go down in history because we have fought for the right, we have fought for justice, equality, transparency, and accountability.
Many persons are afraid of transparency or simplicity if you are such a person then the following will not be appealing to you, however I trust that what I will write will be enough to be considered history for truly this is what it is.
O.A.B.I.: Organization for Abused and Battered Individuals, have been functioning since 2008, and if I dare to say my entire life, however it was given birth in that year and fully organized in 2011, during those years we worked as the people will say “silently, educating, counseling, directing, and housing persons who have suffered under the hand of their abusers, children who have been brutalized, persons who have been raped, persons seeking safe housing and those seeking counseling, during those times we also directed individuals to the relevant authorities be it the police, Rape Crises Center, Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Shelters, or to the hospital there were those times when we had to accompany the victim or victims to the places mentioned above.
The reason I founded this organization is to do something positive with the pain which I endured being emotionally, sexually, and physically abused as a child from the age of six to the age of 15 years, because of my experience, my pain, my fear and the many mistakes and errors in judgments which I made, the emotional turmoil, suicidal thoughts, shame, guilt, stolen identity as a child, anger, hurt, and seeking for genuine love, I had to speak out and reach out, I had to put on my Armour and enlist in this battle not by my choice but it was forced upon me, and as a solider in this war against abuse I must free my fellow soldiers who are kept as prisoners of war.
After years of trying to evade my past I had to confront the demons I was running from in doing so, I had to educate myself on the subject the education and knowledge which I received and imparted into my life made me a better person emotionally and not bitter continually.
I had to accept that the abuse was not my fault, and seek to heal in all the areas of my life which was damaged. Looking at my life and what I passed through and even still going through as abuse is something you can never forget because there are the flashbacks and triggers but you learn to survive, you learn to become and remain a victor not a victim.
It dawned on me that my experience, was and can never be an isolated one, reflecting on my pain, my emptiness, my years of conflicts, and confusion of mind I needed to do something, I needed to be a voice to the voiceless.
During my nightly visits there was no one to protect me, there was no one who educated me in school, Church, television, radio, nor at social gatherings, there was no one to ease my pain.
Abuse was happening everywhere, but it was a taboo subject even up to now it is still a taboo subject in many organizations, families, communities, social gatherings, and nations many persons have placed a gag order on the subject so the victims are continually living in fear and shame, fear of the abuser and fear to speak out and reach out for help because of the misconceptions of many in society on the matter.
When I looked at children going home from school I often wondered and ask myself, what are they going home to meet?. Is it a home of love, care, support, and compassion or is it a home of fear, trauma, rape, and all types of abuse. When I encounter an angry worker or see an adult looking lost and bewildered I ask myself, has this person been or is being abused?
When I read the news papers and listen to the news and here of horrific cases of abuse I ask the question how can I reach out and help this person heal?, if the person has been killed I ask myself, how can I share and give information to educate and remove illiteracy on the subject?.
When I see and hear of persons having to run to the police, medical professionals, and the Rape Crises center because they have been violated by strangers in the most horrific manner, when family and friends have to sit and endure the mental torment and physical agony of seeing their loved ones medically examined and tested for all manner of sexually transmitted diseases, when they have to sit through counseling sessions, and look at the fear in loved ones faces, the shame of having persons know what happened to them, fear to leave their homes, and for the duration of the sexual violation the victim wondering if they will be killed some have even said it were better if the abuser did kill them.
I could no longer remain silent, I had to get involved, when I had to comfort a young lady from church because her fiancé tried to kill her as she was subjected to months of abuse and torture, even her family was terrorized, when I had to look at the many stitches and the scars which this young lady has to live with for the rest of her life I had to get involved.
When the innocence of our children who are our future and our future leaders are glutinously taken away by the avaricious perverted appetites of predators and pedophiles sucking our children dry leaching upon them with devilish pleasure and ease, when our young women and men are captured and sold and traded as sex slaves and laborer’s for the monetary gain of those who find pleasure in this dark and deluded trade of sealed and perfected wickedness then I had to be a voice.
Even if it was my voice alone, it must be heard even if I had to speak with one person at a time I had to do something, as abuse was surrounding me and it would be a criminal act for me to continue to remain silent, it is because I am free, I am duty bound to speak out, reach out, educate, and help.
No longer can we as a people sit comfortably and say it can never happen to me or my family, for me, the last thing I thought would have confronted me as a child was abuse, no one knows when abuse will come knocking and enter a crease in the window no one knows and none of us are prepared for it when it comes.
In school we are taught how to prepare for a fire, how to prepare for examination, we are taught how to prepare for a hurricane, earthquake, storm and even how to prepare for a family of our own. We are taught etiquette’s and manners, we are taught cleanliness and how to be tidy, we are instructed in many schools in reference to our spiritual life, however we are never taught how to prepare for abuse.
Organizations teach their employees and will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on proper customer service, but they are never taught and instructed as what to do when abuse is creeping through the cracks.
Books are written about the history of nations and men’s lives, books are written on crime, on getting rich and every other thing, but what about the victims of abuse would a noted author take his/her time to write about the atrocities which the victim had to endure, will they take their time to write about prevention and signs of abuse, for many the answer will be no, for this issue is not a popular one nor is it one for monetary rewards and profits.
The answer to all my questionings came to me while I was speaking to an individual about abuse and the answer is simple, it is VOICE EMPOWERMENT, empower people to use their voice, empower children to use their voice, empower the nation to use its voice, empower those in authority and the government to use their voice, empower the media to use its voice.
Education is one of the main keys of life; if there is no education then only illiteracy and chaos will reign, no education you cannot make proper decisions and be accountable, since then I have been championing this cause through education, educating individuals, organizations, and groups on the subject of abuse.
I will like to educate the nation, our Caribbean neighbours, and by extension the world on the subject, I will like to partner and network with other advocates, organizations, and groups so we can work together in educating the population as no one person, group, or organization can do it alone.
With this purpose in mind It is off utmost importance as time is of the essence that we use the media, the internet, and social networks effectively to educate the public on the subject of abuse this social issue which is belting the globe and touching every nation and community with its evil blight, this harbinger of doom which have no mercy, shows no respect, have no regards for age, sex, ethnicity, religious persuasion, or financial position.
It stretches its hand into the halls of palaces and the homes of the peasant, it creeps in subtly into the dwellings of the educated and uneducated alike, and it runs through communities like a mighty torrent leaving many broken and damaged, even leaving some dead.
You ask for the history of this organization the history is my life, the history is the life of every child which has been and is currently being sexually abused and battered, the history is the victims of abuse around the globe.
What do we at O.A.B.I want to see, what do we need to see, we need persons to live healthy lives, we need to see children smile and being a child must not hurt, we need to see adult victims totally healed and whole, we need to see widespread dissemination of information on the subjects of abuse, we need to see the victims of abuse receive justice, we need to see laws and policies put in place which will make the perpetrator accountable for their cruel and dehumanizing acts of violence, we need to see a global community of advocates standing together as an army of soldiers, we need to see the media and the social networks getting involved spreading the message that abuse will not be tolerated, we need to see resources given to every organization which will equip them to fight in this war for we are at war, and finally we need to see the eradication of abuse.
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In closing remember that silence is not an option in this war.