I am a survivor

How Hauwa found happiness again

I am a survivor

At 13 I started living with my aunt and her children

I love living with my aunt. But sometimes I think she doesn’t like me.

She says a lot of things that make me unhappy.

I get more punishment from her than her children.

She calls me slow, useless or big-for-nothing.

She calls me “fatty” and says all I know how to do is eat. She said that’s why I am dull.

I am always nervous around her. I stammer when I talk to her.

Her words affect me.

They make me feel worthless. I sometimes think she is right.

I thought her behaviour was normal until I visited my friend Mariam.

I saw how her aunt scolded her without using an abusive word. I asked her if this was normal.

She said her aunt never uses insulting words when speaking to any of the children in their home. I told her about my aunt and the things she says to me.

My friend said the behaviour was not normal.

She said I was being abused emotionally. She said emotional abuse is when someone makes you feel worthless and no one should make me feel that way. She advised me to speak to my aunt about it.

I told her I was scared to speak to her.

She asked me to speak to her aunt. Her aunt advised me on what to do

She said “You are not slow, useless or good-for- nothing. You are awesome. Always tell yourself that. When you feel sad distract yourself with things that make you happy. Tell your aunt how she makes you feel. Don’t let her words get to you.

When I feel sad and I want to express my feelings, I write to help me feel better. I keep a journal and write poems. Some days I listen to music. They make me feel better.

Recently I summoned the courage to tell my aunt how she makes me feel. She was shocked. She apologized for it.

My aunt is nicer with words now.

You too can be a survivor. Don’t let one bad experience affect your future.

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