Savera UK has welcomed Anne Raissa Yacé to its Board. Anne has been working as a financial controller for an international construction company for 10 years and will now support the Savera UK team and Board of Directors, providing advice and guidance on finance matters.
Everyone involved with Savera UK has their personal reasons for supporting the charity and to introduce her new role, Anne has kindly shared her story. Welcome to the team Anne. Thank you for your support and thank you for bravely #SpeakingOut.
“I was born in Ivory Coast but at the age of 8, my family and I moved to France. My parents got divorced when I was 14 and then 11 years ago my Mum remarried, to a Nigerian pastor. For the first few months of them being together we were forced to go to his church and follow his doctrine, something that my siblings and I accepted to please my Mum.
“When he moved in with us, though, things started to change significantly. There was loads of verbal abuse and my little sisters were forbidden to hang out with anybody, as no-one was religious enough for his taste.”
“As I was older, I lived away and just saw them during the holidays, but he would still go on at us all day long – you have this or that demon in you, if it wasn’t for me you wouldn’t have a successful life”. Basically, there was always something wrong with us and he was always the solution. Even today he is the one choosing my Mum’s clothes, dropping her off at work, coming back at lunch to eat with her In the car and picking her up after work. As a result, my mum doesn’t have any friends anymore.
“He started to tell us – and our Mum – that our real dad was a demonic, which is obviously not true. He told us that he was our Dad now and we had to call him that. Somehow he even convinced Mum that me and my siblings’ only job on this planet was to make her life a living hell, that we never loved her and that the ‘demons’ in our Dad were with us too. We started to believe him too.
After a few years, this all became too much for us. My brother left home without telling us where he was going and only got back in touch 6 months later. My youngest sister left home a few years later as Mum’s husband became abusive about her having a boyfriend – in fact the idea of us having boyfriends became an obsession of his.
“We tried to talk to Mum about it and all that happened was that she didn’t talk to me for two years. Because she is my mum, I tried to re-build a relationship with them.
“I am now 33, living in the UK. I have a great job but they still tell me how to live my life. They tell me that the only life purpose for a woman is to be married.
“Despite their obsession with me finding a husband, they call me every day to check where I am, who I am out with to make sure I am not hanging out with guys. Every time I have my own point of view, they say it’s the rebellious character that is talking and that I will be cursed for my words and actions.
“I thought I was the only one having problems – until I found that other people were going through the same as me. Like me, others I have spoken to also feel ashamed about what they are going through and wish for a life of freedom. They also don’t want to feel any guilt for making their own choices and decisions.
“The worst part of it all is that my Mum and her husband have really good intentions. They think their way is the only way for happiness in life and they want the best for us. But the annoying thing is that it is making the whole family unhappy and they still think it’s because we have ‘demons’ in us. It’s sad.
“I am still working on dealing with all this. I still feel guilty about speaking my truth and I fear rejection. I know I might lose my mum and step-dad by freeing myself. But it has reached a point where psychologically I can’t continue.
“This is the reason that I want to help others, as it is not that easy – even when you get out of these situations – to believe 100% that there is nothing wrong with you.
“Once I realised that I was the only one responsible for my life and I could not spend the rest of my life blaming others or being scared, I have looked for therapists that could help me in this process.
“I read so many books on getting to know myself, my values and my strengths. You realise that the only reason you are stuck in a vicious circle is because you do not know yourself enough to stand up for yourself. When you grow up like this you don’t have a clue about who you are and what you want in life. So you believe that who you are is what your family says you are.
“Since I now know myself – my real me without my family or society’s expectations of me – I have started to distance myself. Surprisingly, my mum and step-dad did not really react. I don’t think that their behaviour or beliefs changed, I am just more confident now that I have a vision for my life and goals to reach.
“After all the work with my coach and therapist, I am so sure about where I am heading that I do not feel guilty and I am not scared to follow my path. I am so grateful to my coach for challenging and guiding me, as I couldn’t do this alone. No one can.
“I chose to be part of Savera UK as I felt really close to their mission. I wish everyone could be free to live a life of their own choosing without fear of repercussion or blame. It’s important to help and raise awareness about these abuses. There are abuses that are known, like FGM, and others that are more subtle like spiritual or emotional abuse. People should not feel alone and they should know that what they are going through is not normal. We have to give them the tools to rebuild themselves in order to live a purposeful life.”
If you have a story to share or are interested in sharing your skills as part of our Advisory Board, please get in touch.