Mauritius: Priscilla Bignoux

Date: August 20, 2018
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‘Listen to others and be heard: lending an ear is sometimes the biggest gift’

During a Gender Links (GL) workshop about violence against women at Souillac I learned about the various actions we as women can take to stop this malpractice. I had heard about various actions that can be undertaken, but this was the first time that I realised that each and every woman can help to end this ill. Then at another workshop in Rose Belle, a survivor of violence came and spoke about her experience. I was shocked. I never thought that someday someone would come forward and explain the nightmare s/he had been through in so much detail. The day I listened to the woman talk about her experience was a life-changing moment for me.

At the council, we have an active “service d’ecoute” where we lend an ear to people who need to talk. I am also responsible for a kindergarten. Through GL, I have come to know the real depth of the problem and decided to start writing stories about the survivors as a way of sharing their pain. Once I understood the importance of listening and being listened to, I wanted to give back. I thus engaged in an active “service d’ecoute”.

By nature, I am very empathetic person. With GL, I have come to see things and people, especially victims of violence, differently. I have learned to say “non” and I have learned, and firmly believe, that we can overcome anything we want to, be it violence, drugs or alcohol. When you have been through the experience, you cannot but change. GL provided us with the tools and has made it easier to overcome the problem. One would need to be dumb not to want to leave the situation.

I give GL full credit for this transformation. Had they not provided me with the tools, had they not listened to me, I would never have been able to become the person I am now. Anushka did not need to say anything to me. What she did was more than enough. She listened to me and everything changed. I have learned about how GL staff approach survivors and how to manage victims of violence and develop listening skills. Most importantly, I have learned how to listen without judging. I have developed a more positive attitude towards life but I remain on my guard.

I am able to communicate well with my family, most importantly I am able to listen to them and then react. My kids respond better and the behaviour of my husband has changed drastically.

The main challenge has been culture. Not everyone can speak out. It is not at all easy. People are scared of their family and relatives and they prefer to suffer in silence rather than speak out in public and get attention. Listening to someone and providing advice without judging is not an easy task.

I would like an association be established where people could feel more at ease. It would be nice to group all of them together in one place. I hope GL will open more branches everywhere on the island. If we have more of GL, it would be a much better place to live. I would like to thank God for my acquaintance with GL.