Campaign aims to raise awareness of violence, and sexual violence
Having the courage to open up and deal with past trauma does not come easily, as Ms Elizabeth Teo found out. From the age of 19 to 21, she was sexually abused.
After the abuse ended, she continued to feel depressed and suicidal. She eventually overcame her trauma and is now a champion of sexual abuse survivors. Her message: "It is not your fault. It is possible to heal; it is possible to get better."
Now a clinical hypnotherapist, Ms Teo, 35, was a participant in the Let Our Voice Run campaign.
Co-organised by Footsteps To Inspire and Lutheran Community Care Services , the week-long event, which ended yesterday with a virtual run, focused on raising awareness of violence, with special attention on sexual violence, by bringing together those who are concerned about or affected by it.
Among the awareness events, Ms Teo liked the Safe Space for Sexual Assault Survivors listening circle. She told The New Paper: "It allows people to talk about their experiences in a space where they are believed and heard. It is powerful as they realise they are not alone."
Another awareness event that took place was the Healing Harm, Restoring Connection webinar on Saturday.
Dr Razwana Begum Abdul Rahim, who spoke at the webinar, hoped the session would raise awareness of child sexual abuse by getting survivors to talk about it while introducing the model of restorative justice to heal the harm and restore the connection.
Said the Singapore University of Social Sciences senior lecturer at the School of Humanities and Behavioural Sciences: "This campaign aims to create that awareness. On one end, the need to encourage sexual violence survivors to come forward and seek help.
"And on the other end, we are providing them with... a restorative justice model. We are not trying to replace the criminal justice system or the police, but what we are trying to do is to build a bridge between the two systems..
"A lot of them may think they are in a dark space and there is no light at the end of the tunnel."
That was how Ms Teo struggled, enduring years of self-harm and depression. She even attempted suicide a few times which led to her arrest.
Dr Razwana, who is trained in social work and counselling, emphasised that sexual violence happens to both sexes. She assured survivors that they will have community support.
"There is no shame in talking about your experiences."