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August 16 2022 9:40 PM ˚
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From broken, abused and fearful to confident trainer, Zahra is a success story

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(Illustrations: Handouts Generations for Peace)
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AMMAN  — She thought that escaping the deadly war in Syria alone with her six-month-old daughter would be the most horrifying experience of her life. اضافة اعلان

Little did she know that she would have to face a battle at home with her husband, who she thought was the closest person to her.

The story of 30-year-old Zahra began when she fled Syria with her newborn. A couple of months later, she reunited with her husband and settled in Zarqa. The future filled her with fear and anxiety, while the present was paved with feelings of alienation and homesickness.

She was thrilled when she was hired as a salesperson at a clothes shop. Her feelings of contentment did not last for long, once she realized that as a refugee, she was the subject of pity.

“I was offered money and help from customers so many times, and though it probably stemmed from good intentions, I could not stand it.”



Filled with pride, Zahra quit her job. 

With two more children and dire economic circumstances, her husband struggled to maintain a steady job. He had to bend over backwards to provide for the family. He started being aggressive and violent with her.

Zahra was terrified of him. She could not find the voice to fight back. Drowning in fear, she felt more paralyzed every time he became more violent. Her bruises went beyond her physical body.

“I felt broken, my soul was crushed. I was barely managing to rebuild what the war has destroyed in me, only to find myself stuck in a vicious cycle of violence,” she sighed.

At home, the violence worsened. Like a raging tornado, it engulfed everything and left nothing but destruction. One day, in the aftermath of her husband’s episodes of anger, Zahra realized that she had had enough.
As a survivor of abuse, violence was a sensitive topic for me. At first, my face turned red, my voice was shaky, and my stomach clenched every time I discussed it. However, with time, my confidence grew, and I was able to reflect on my experience
Just like that, she found the courage to file a report against him. An international organization identified her domestic violence case as stage four, meaning her life was at risk.

Zahra and her kids went into therapy for eight months. She was able to stop the physical domestic violence. But she was still terrified of her husband as he continued to be verbally abusive. Zahra collected the shattered pieces of herself and decided to move on despite her struggles.

Volunteering was her haven. She attended every awareness session or workshop that NGOs and CSOs organized. Gender-based violence and protection were discussed in some sessions, which gave her hope for a solution to her desperate reality.

One door opened another, and she finally became a volunteer trainer with the “Improving Protection Spaces and Practices  (IPSP)  for Syrians and Jordanians in Host Communities” program, which Generations For Peace (GFP) implemented. 

Zahra describes the program as a turning point in her life. “As a survivor of abuse, violence was a sensitive topic for me. At first, my face turned red, my voice was shaky, and my stomach clenched every time I discussed it. However, with time, my confidence grew, and I was able to reflect on my experience.”

Discussing violence while her home was not a safe place made Zahra realize that she had to put an end to all the forms of violence at home. “The safe space and support that I found in the program gave me faith and confidence in myself and my capabilities. I was finally able to find my voice and stand in the face of violence,” she said.
After all those years I spent in Jordan, I only made Jordanian friends during the program. It was heart-warming to see people breaking preconceived judgments.
Zahra explained that once she stood up for herself, she deterred her husband from raising his voice or laying a hand on her again. “I was so passionate about the topic. I wanted to raise awareness so that no woman would ever have to endure what I went through,” she pointed out. 

Zahra finally felt powerful after feeling helpless for so long. It was her time to blossom. She was immensely touched by one of the Syrian participants who was still traumatized by the war in Syria. She had severe anxiety and could not socialize with Jordanians, or males in general.

Zahra made sure to get her to engage her in every activity and let her mingle with Jordanians and particularly males. She observed as the participant’s personality and attitude changed. “She became one of the most active participants. I always thought I was weak, but here I was helping someone and giving her strength.”

Zahra was able to break barriers between Syrians and Jordanians. “After all those years I spent in Jordan, I only made Jordanian friends during the program. It was heart-warming to see people breaking preconceived judgments.” 

Today, Zahra is more confident as a mother, a wife, and a trainer. She has gained the right set of skills to stand out in her field. Her passion for protection and ending violence maximized her employability. She was headhunted by an international NGO after one of her sessions with the program and was also selected by another NGO as a volunteer trainer on gender-based violence. Zahra is confident that there is no battle that she cannot conquer. 


Disclaimer: The real name of this story’s character has been changed for privacy reasons.


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