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Behind the Screen

When I made the decision to break my silence it was one of the hardest things I had to do. I was unprepared for the knowledge that hundreds of thousands of victims have no voice and its not by their choice.

I never imagined the enormous role which the Internet would play in my life as an advocate, survivour, a grassroots woman, and budding author. When my voice went unheard by many who willfully blocked their ears and shut their eyes to the many atrocities of abuse and domestic violence.

I did the only thing possible at the time I turned to the Internet, being new to the Internet I sought help as to how best to navigate and I searched for groups, individuals, organizations, and online spaces to share my experiences, seek help, advice, and to help others and myself, and launch various causes and campaigns.

One site which I found was Facebook, back then it was not as popular as it is today I learned how to navigate this site and soon began my online advocacy. Having just a handful of friends on the social media site did not deter me.

I was encouraged and motivated by the many advocates, survivours, groups, and organizations who found a space on facebook, whenever I read the various post, testimonies and articles I felt empowered and a burst of energy would push me to become active and educated in this line of work.

I was empowered by the many advocates which I met online in various groups, individuals from across the globe who befriended me and encouraged me whenever I felt weak and thought about giving up.

Receiving advice, and words of encouragement from total strangers who today are some of my best friends, I created my first page online called 'I AM SAYING NO TO ABUSE' each week I would see an increase in page likes. I began to receive messages where persons stated that the page post were informative, enlightening, and supportive.

This propelled me to continue for persons were now dependant on the post to get through their day, find hope, and feel encouraged that there was a voice speaking for them. Empowerment comes in various ways and never in my wildest dream would I imagine being empowered by the Internet and this tool would help me accomplish many goals.

I had a dream of having a radio show and magazine in my geographical location of the of the world the Internet made this possible and still is. Online I felt as though I could move mountains and there were no roadblocks or red tape.

I began to search for resources and organizations in various countries whom I could network with but more so I got their contact details and the services they provided and made notes and posted to the facebook page so fans can access services in their country and regions.

I began to reach out to fellow advocates and speak about networking, some of them reached out to me we began to share information about understanding the cultural differences and how to bridge the gap, embrace the unique cultural differences,and understand the laws so we can advocate globally and locally.

I began to search the web for tools to make this happen, realizing that wonders can happen online. I was enthusiastic and purpose driven to make a difference. I found my way unto an online radio site called Blogtalk radio I felt as though I found the gold at the end of the rainbow, I listened to a few shows then opened an account.

Soon enough I dived in and hosted my first show. Radio on the Internet! Persons from all over the world can tune in and listen be it on a laptop, desktop, or mobile device. Messages of prevention, empowerment, advocacy and support was now going to another level.

After each show I would share the episode on my page, my personal page and within groups very soon I began to get a following and listeners sent submissions for various topics. I called upon fellow qualified advocates to assist me and asked them to host a show we all used the same account, and assisted one another while one hosted the other was in the chat room.

Now listeners got five shows per week with different hosts and a variety of topics. Each host had a separate day. This all happened all because of being empowered online and the Internet helping me to achieve my goals. Shows continue to be hosted and minds and hearts continue to be blest.

But the new found drive which I had did not stop there being energized by the Internet and empowered by the online tools, resources and people I began to search for a platform to do the e-magazine a place where global voices can unite against abuse and domestic violence.

Involving men in this task was instrumental as they are pivotal in the process of gender equality and having spaces free of violence. I have met and continue to meet some wonderful and interesting people online. Many of those meetings have blossomed into fruitful friendships.

In June of 2012 our first issue of the e-magazine called 'O.A.B.I. Voices United in the global fight against abuse' it was an immediate hit with many today we have suspeneded publications as we work on rebranding the magazine and bring up to a professional and international look.

I have met authors who shared their books with me, doctors from various fields who were eager to give advise and even write articles for the magazine, amazing survivours who shared their stories like Laura Cowan and so many others, educators, lawmakers, models, and those petitioning for change.

Those persons whom I met and took the time to touch my life by sending me a note of commendation, support, or encouragement will forever be close to my heart they will became my support network and the family which I did not have offline. My online family kept me sane and encouraged.

Did the Internet inspire me? Yes it did, and it continues too as I draw inspiration from it daily, inspiration from the stories shared, the events hosted, the articles posted, the books published, the radio shows conducted, and the silence being broken.

Did I learn something new? Certainly, I was able to take courses and training online and become certified in various areas dealing with child protection, domestic violence and abuse, victim service provider and protection, empowerment, family, life, parenting, law and much more.

Many of the above courses and training was new to me, if I did not have access to the Internet and having an online presence I would not of known about such training and being able to sit behind a computer in one country while being taught and trained in another. If this is not empowerment then I do not know what it.

When I am online I find joy in researching and networking with women and men around the globe for enhancement of the cause. As women we have such a powerful tool at our finger tips and we must fear if we lose the opportunity to use it well.

We must fear if we do not embrace it and use it to empower our sisters to become great, to change lives, to make a difference, to share information, to educate, advise and lend support.

We should fear if we let this great technology just pass us by while others use it to spread misogyny, intolerance, and illiteracy. If we fear to use the Internet, if we fail to embrace it then we would of failed our daughters and our sisters and open a floodgate of chaos and destruction to future generations.

Now is the time to call on every government official to push for the empowerment of every woman and girl to have free access to computers and the Internet. I had a dream that one day I will become an active advocate not for myself but a voice for many and many voices for one.

The Internet has afforded me this privilege and my dream is slowly becoming a reality, as a grassroots woman, survivour, and activist who does not have the luxury of many established organizations or woman but work much harder and sacrifice more. This dream is coming through, I dream of a place where women can come and be trained and empowered this dream is coming through not only for me but for every woman and girl and man and boy.

There are endless opportunities and possibilities and the use of the Internet has only just begun this is our time let us not fail for future generations are counting on us.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Women Weave the Web Digital Action Campaign. Learn more »

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Cali gal Michelle's picture

Sherna- Your writing is

Sherna-
Your writing is eloquent, your story real, your voice powerful. You have woven together story, voice, and vision in such a relevant and accessible way, and you will carry on to touch many lives I have no doubt.

Your courage to seek, learn, and then share is commendable, and something I myself can learn from. I am glad that you have found various ways to share your story, because from your example others will see a way through their darkness.

"We must fear if we lose this opportunity.....we must fear if we let this...pass us by..." So powerful, Sherna! Together we will not fail. Together we will create change that will move our future generations forward.

Looking forward to where you go from here!

Let us Hope together-
Michelle
aka: Cali gal

Listener
Sister-Mentor
@CaliGalMichelle
facebook.com/caligalmichelle

Sherna Alexander's picture

Thank you

Thank you for your kind comments may we take this journey together and network to make a difference and touch lives.

Regards,

Sherna Alexander Benjamin
Sister in Unity, Technology, Service, and Voice

"Breaking the Silence is not a popular choice, it is the right choice"
https://m.facebook.com/OabiOrganization
"There may be times when we are powerless to preven

lemonades's picture

Bravery I call it!

Hi Sherma, reading through your (not so short...lol) article, I couldn't but start thinking of inking my own bits and pieces on a similar issue. In short, your article has motivated me especially the section that tells of how you dreamt of having a radio show and magazine in your geographical location, which actually came into being. It is said that nothing is impossible and you have helped to buttress that fact.

Your submission depicts a kind of bravery that is not so common. Bravo!

You sound a self-motivator and I would love to follow your trend and share my own stories so that together, we can find solutions to them. More grease to your elbows!

Plummage
(Lina Sappor)

A woman has to work at least twice as hard as a man in order to get recognized: FORTUNATELY, it is not difficult to accomplish.
Credit: Unknown Author

Sherna Alexander's picture

THANK YOU

Thank you for your wonderful words of support and encouragement and yes we do need to network and support each other in this work, would love to network with you as see how we can work together to bring about solutions, motivation and empowerment.

My road had not been an easy one and it still have various challenges but look forward to a brighter and empowered future for generations of women and girls.

Regards,

Sherna Alexander Benjamin
Sister in Unity, Technology, Service, and Voice

"Breaking the Silence is not a popular choice, it is the right choice"
https://m.facebook.com/OabiOrganization
"There may be times when we are powerless to preven

Bheki's picture

Just what I hoped for

Hi Sherna--

I read you other posting first and in it, asked you for a more personal perspective on your journey. Then I read this one and it was exactly as I hoped for. Thank you for your candor and honesty about your road. You have such courage, determination and are very articulate.

You have taken your inspiration and in turn, inspired other women. Your dream of being an advocate has already started to unfold and I look forward to hearing where it takes you next.

I went to your Facebook page and added my "like" to it. I love that you have a radio program. I just got back from 5 years in rural South Africa and know the power of that medium. Many people there listen to the radio all day while they work, through their phones.

I am so happy you said NO TO ABUSE and that you are there supporting others to make that choice.
May all of your efforts and endeavors be blessed.

Bheki

Sherna Alexander's picture

Thank you Bheki

Thank you for taking time to read my writing, if one truly wants to help persons heal and advance one has taken the responsibility to remove all shame and share each detail of their experience which others may say "do not speak about that"

I have come a long way been through hell and back and it is my solmn duty because I survived to be a voice for those who are still in various prisions of abuse and that prison sadly is always behind an open shut door. In the clear view of others and in the confines of the family structure and by society itself.

I seek strength each day to continue this work its not an easy road especially when the powers that be hold back resources and finances to reach persons and to get the work done, but even in this I have become more determined to stand and stand strong.

May we unite, may we help each other on this journey, may we support each other and band together as a sisterhood to make our mark and let our voices and causes be known

Your sister in Solidarity

Regards,

Sherna Alexander Benjamin
Sister in Unity, Technology, Service, and Voice

"Breaking the Silence is not a popular choice, it is the right choice"
https://m.facebook.com/OabiOrganization
"There may be times when we are powerless to preven

sabapetit's picture

Thank you for your story

Dear Shema

Thank you for sharing your inspirational story! Indeed, internet is an endless tool of opportunities and you just have demonstrated to us that it is possible to conquer our dreams if we use it well. Thank you for your effort and your determination in making a difference in the cyberspace. Day by day there are more people willing to be part of humanitarian causes like the yours. Domestic violence must to be part of the past. Let's making it happen!

My best wishes for you and your projects of peace!

Sabapetit

Sherna Alexander's picture

Voices unite

Thank you for your kind words. This is our fight in unity the internet is here to stay and we must not defeat the purpose of it.
We must not be afraid to use it effectively and efficiently in our cause. May we support each other and join hand in hand as we weave the web.

Regards,

Sherna Alexander Benjamin
Sister in Unity, Technology, Service, and Voice

"Breaking the Silence is not a popular choice, it is the right choice"
https://m.facebook.com/OabiOrganization
"There may be times when we are powerless to preven

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