Susan's Super Citizen Showcase

Friday, January 05, 2007

Amira shares her story of abuse to help others

Amira Perera“If you see people suffering, don’t just close your eyes and do nothing. Help in what ever way you can,” says author Amira Perera, whose life story Out of Brokenness will soon be published in the U.S. by Wine Press Publishers. “I want to use my book to make people aware of the long-term consequences of abuse and how destructive it can be. Usually when people are in abusive situations, that’s the only lifestyle they know and they cannot get out of the situation unless they have some kind of support or counselling or plan to get out safely. It’s not easy.”

Born in Sri Lanka, Amira was 10 when war broke out, and at 13, she moved to Central Africa with her family. When she was 16, Amira and her family moved to Northern Alberta – and after about a year, she ran away from home to escape a lifetime of physical abuse from her mother. After seeing a TV talk show on child abuse, she realized the extent of her own mistreatment – the punching, kicking, hurtful name-calling, being locked outside at night when poisonous snakes were out, and being forced to stay out in the subzero temperatures of Canada's north.

“In Sri Lanka, we were not aware of any laws to protect children at all. So school authorities and parents got away with anything – and not just parents. I knew friends whose aunts abused them,” she says. “Out of my book I want people to be aware that laws need to be enacted in countries where none exist.”

Soon after she left home, Amira, who was raised Catholic, met up with a group of Protestant Christians, and moved away to bible school, where she found love, support, and acceptance unlike any she had ever known.

“If I had not had my Christian experience and met these people, at that time I would have ended my life or, as time went by, I would have gotten into horrible situations. Many people who went through what I went through end their lives or become drug addicts or prostitutes,” she says, adding that the message in her book is not just for Christians. “Actually, so far most of my audience has been non-Christian people, but they have found my approach interesting. I’m trying to write the book for all kinds of people but with a Christian slant because we all have different slants.”

The name “Amira Perera” is actually a pseudonym – which she uses to protect the identity of her family.

“Everyone in my family has gone through severe suffering. That’s the consequences of violence. I do not want to do anything to add to their suffering. To us Asians, there’s cultural shame. Everything is hidden,” Amira says. “In my culture we’re taught to keep things in – saving face and shame. But the more you keep things in, the more it has to come out in some way. For me, it came through in losing my health – which made me start trying to find answers to other things.”

Eventually Amira went to college and university and got a degree in psychology and music.

“Taking psychology, I ended up being more aware of what human nature is all about and what is okay and what is not. And also what is culture and what is human nature – to differentiate. There were areas in my life where before I had felt very intimidated and ashamed and scared – and those things were resolved as I was learning psychology. I’ve spent a lot of time – apart from my psych texts and everything – finding answers,” she says. “I am someone who has gone through that experience of abuse. It took me years to come out of it. You often hear stories of people that are now going through violence, but you don’t too often hear stories about people speaking up after about what happened to them – and never from my culture.”

Amira describes the benefits of her music training.

“First of all, I felt like I was a creative person and I was thankful I could find myself in that way. I needed to be able to have facilities to put out the things that I felt inside. The second thing is when I was taking voice, I realized my body was very strongly affected because of the trauma I had gone through,” she says, describing how she struggled to overcome breathing issues. “I found out that for people who come from trauma, their breathing is different. You need to retrain yourself to breathe properly. It’s the same for anxiety and fear. Your breath is shallow, cut off – and you need to breathe stronger and do calming exercises.”

The past 15 years has been a time of powerful healing and Amira says she is now able to enjoy things that many people would take for granted – things like open friendships, feeling equal in relationships, being assertive, and expressing her views without fear of violent reactions.

“For years I was so unhappy and so broken – for years I was crying out to God to have happiness and I even read lots of books on happiness – how to get happiness and everything. For a long time, I felt like I was in a cage, but when I started seeing that I was coming out of that cage and I was able to be the person I felt I was inside, then there was much less inner conflict happening and I started becoming more and more happy,” she says, offering words of hope to people living with abuse. “There’s a way out. You don’t need to be in this situation. Instead, there’s a good life to be had. You don’t have to live with this misery any longer. There are people that would be there – organizations and people. I was not aware of any organizations that were out there to help me. Also, there are resources out there – you can get your life back. Basically I want people just to get courage… I have this real passion that if I can do anything to stop someone else from suffering like I did, I would do that.”

Amira has a website and two blogs that offer more information on her life, her faith, and her message.

“The books listed on my blog site are all non-religious trauma books. Most of them are psychology-oriented,” she says, stressing that she doesn’t want her own faith to detract from her message on the impact of abuse. “My site can reach the Christian bunch – but articles such as yours [i.e. this here blog of mine] are needed to reach suffering people that are not Christian, as well as abusers, and people that are watching and doing nothing.”

Amira’s website is at:

Technorati tags

South Asian culture
child abuse


At Sat Jan 06, 12:42:00 AM PST , Blogger AP said...

Thank you so much for writing this for and about me. You have captured what i really wanted to say....and with the strength of emotion and passion i wanted to say it in. I am ever grateful for this.

At Sat Jan 06, 06:33:00 PM PST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great story... I hope people will keep talking about this issue and we'll get some positive change!


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