Matching ahead: From Victim to Survivor

02 December 2022|Jane Corazón

As we commemorate 16 days of activism against Gender based Violence, this day accords us an opportunity to reflect on the efforts that the survivors of violence have had to undertake to build their lives and give themselves a chance to a better future and that of their families. 

In our urban response office, we continue to listen to narrations of how the perpetrators of violence endeavour to break the spirits of the survivors to inhibit their progress and make it seem as if there is no hope for moving forward. 

At JRS, we are privileged to have numerous encounters with women who prove that they are not victims but survivors. They continue to demonstrate the resilience of women despite the challenges that life presents to them.  Maria, a person of concern in our JRS urban response illustrates clearly some of the challenges women in the community continue to encounter and how they are fighting to overcome them.   

Maria is a young Burundian woman who arrived in Kenya in 2016 as an asylum seeker running away from her civil war in her country. She has always been a hard-working woman. She tried selling food in the streets and even opening her own saloon. 

She was married to Tom, and they had 2 children together. But she was from a different tribe and Tom’s family never approved of the marriage. That made him frustrated, and tense and he started beating her. Many episodes of domestic violence took place, and she finally was put in a transit shelter as a safety measure by UNHCR. A local NGO facilitated a reconciliation process between her and Tom. It worked at first, but after a few months Tom went back to his old ways becoming even more violent than before. One day, the beating went too far, and she had to call her cousin to rescue her and escape the house. Afterwards, Tom tried to keep her away from their children, but she reported the matter to the Children’s office where she was able to be assisted. Tom was arrested but then released, after which he retaliated by jeopardizing her income activities.  

The JRS Protection team has continued to take make referrals to ensure her safety. 

Maria came to JRS requesting to join livelihood trainings. She was referred to a Tailoring course. While studying she needed to keep sustaining her family so JRS gave her emergency support of rent and food for a few months.   

JRS continued to provide her with counselling services.  During this process of healing emotionally, Maria suffered a mild stroke which made her unable to continue with her tailoring training and even her businesses. JRS has continued to walk with the client in her journey and provide for her support when available.  Far from giving up, Maria was determined to go back to school, despite her  body being partially paralysed.

Maria is an epitome of resilience and power that the survivors of gender-based violence. They are no longer victims, but they are an inspiration to other women who may be feeling stuck that they can always seek help and get the strength to start again.

UNITE! Activism to end violence against women and girls.