People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) in partnership with tea brand, JOKO, are launching Unroped, its latest anthology of short stories, poems and personal essays of living through and triumphing over abuse on Friday, 9 December 2022.
Every year since 2005, through its Women’s Writing Project, POWA has brought women together to share their experiences of abuse and how they rose above it, which are collected in the Breaking the Silence anthologies. The writing featured in the series highlights women’s internal struggles, such as rape, domestic violence, alcoholism, unemployment, hope, why women stay, escaping abuse, going from victim to warrior and so much more.
The Women’s Writing Project encourages women, through writing, to break the shackles of silence, which often fuels the violence inflicted on us. As it gives women a platform to speak out about abuse, the Breaking the Silence Anthology 2021/2022 (Unroped) is one of four programmes of the #EndDomesticSilence initiative, being funded by JOKO. Launched in 2019, the #EndDomesticSilence initiative is being run by JOKO, in partnership with POWA, and aims to encourage women to end the silence around domestic violence and increase the speaking out, reporting of, awareness and education around domestic violence.
The aim of the POWA Women’s Writing Project, being run in partnership with JOKO, is to create a therapeutic and, above all, safe space for women to break the silence on the different forms of abuse they have experienced. It gives women the opportunity to reflect on their lived realities and in the process, positively shape their landscape and influence the thinking and decisions of other women in similar circumstances. The project aims to encourage women to break the silence and violence in their lives.
POWA collected the stories, poems and essays in Unroped by sending out a call for submissions in media nationwide and through placing posters in its six branch offices in Gauteng from January to March, this year. A total of 41 entries were submitted for the Unroped Breaking the Silence anthology. Each submission was then reviewed, shortlisted and edited by the POWA Women’s Writing Project Editorial Committee.
The thinking behind calling the 2021/2022 theme for the Breaking the Silence anthology, Unroped, is because to rope means to force someone to do what they don’t want to do. A rope is used to tie up someone, to confine. Abuse is like a Rope that is confining you, which keeps entangling you and getting tighter as the abuse continues. Once you start undoing one entanglement, your freedom has begun. The Rope represents sadness and control, like being put on a leash. Unroped is a complete chapter-to-chapter story about rebuilding, recuperating and about release and becoming unleashed. This Rope has arrested and captured her soul and her mind. UNROPING is a process of undoing the spirit of abuse physically, mentally and spiritually. It’s like a ceremony of cleansing. It’s rebuilding her strengths, her dignity. Every UNROPING gives her more air to breath again.
The compilation of writing in Unroped tells of women’s experiences of rising above their trauma and letting go of past hurts and pains. They write of the kind of future they dream of; one that is imagined and defined by them. Within the pages of the book, women write from their hearts, sharing their experiences of abuse, their hurt, hopes, anger, fears and frustrations.
Unroped is filled with stories that heal, educate, inspire and generate a feeling of empowerment to face everyday challenges with new hope and a renewed perspective. The stories undress the spirits of unkindness, misunderstanding, loss and feeling you carry no value. UNROPING is freedom.
“The Women’s Writing Project gives women the opportunity to express their innermost thoughts and feelings, which facilitates their healing journey,” says POWA’s Chief Social Worker, Joan Hlako, who is managing the project. “The stories, poems and essays published in Unroped really highlight that writing is a healing tool because they are authentic and one can feel the pain of their authors when reading them.”
Writing definitely helps to promote healing after the hurt. As inspirational speaker, Iyanla Vanzant has said: “It’s important that we share our experiences with other people. Your story will heal you and your story will heal somebody else. When you tell your story, you free yourself and give other people permission to acknowledge their own story.”
Nolwazi Nkosi’s (34), poem entitled, “Those Hands”, about her experience of domestic violence is part of the writing in the book. “When you’re being abused, you tend to think that you’ll never get out because of how vicious it all is,” she says. “I hope my poem restores hope for women in abusive situations and shows them that there is a doorway out the situation. You just need to be courageous enough to pull yourself out.”
Unroped highlights to survivors of gender-based violence that they are not alone in their experiences and that they can unrope themselves from past trauma, while emphasising that in our homes and relationships, there should be no room for abuse.
If you would like a digital or hard copy of Unroped, please email: email@example.com
Thandiwe McCloy Communications Manager – POWA