When she returned to Vancouver from a disastrous trip to Bangladesh in 2011, Rumana Monzur looked beaten. She spoke to reporters at Vancouver International Airport from a wheelchair, her eyes – blinded in an attack by her then-husband – hidden behind dark glasses and her head bowed, tears streaming down her cheeks. But Monzur, 38, persevered, returning to Canada to continue her studies. Two years later, she started law studies at UBC.
A few weeks ago, Ms. Monzur was transformed: She was celebrating her graduation from the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia, surrounded by friends and family members and wearing a blue dress and strappy heels, basking in spring sunshine and the glow of having fulfilled a dream. The contrast highlights a remarkable comeback from a devastating assault that generated international headlines, triggered rallies against domestic violence and galvanized support from UBC and the broader community.
I guess my blindness gave me a filter – so only people with good hearts were able to connect with me.”
As she was guided to the podium to give a speech to fellow law graduates at the University of British Columbia, a hush fell over the crowd of more than 1,000 people gathered at the Chan Shun Concert Hall. Monzur spared the audience the graphic details of her husband’s attack: how her husband not only gouged her eyes, but bit off the tip of her nose as their daughter watched. The attack was sparked after her husband grew enraged because Monzur had told him she’d be returning to Canada to continue her education. At the time, she was taking a master’s at UBC. Monzur made international headlines when she spoke about the attack from her hospital bed.
Ms. Monzur, 38, gave credit to her friends and to UBC’s Access and Diversity department. “I always had my friends with me – they never left me alone,” Ms. Monzur said after her graduation ceremony. She’s focused on her future, empowered by a new outlook on the attack that changed her life six years ago. “I’ve gained a perspective…. I actually feel that I have lost my sight but I have gained vision. I feel different people have different challenges and this is my challenge,” she told CBC’s On the Coast host Stephen Quinn.
The important thing for me is how you face your challenges, and I want to do it with a smiling face.”
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Free Yourself Global
At Transcendent Media Capital, our global domestic violence campaign, “Free Yourself Global: Healing Families; Ending Domestic Violence” explores the enculturation of violence through families over generations, and how does one, whether the abuser or the abused, interrupt the pattern of violence? This for-profit campaign will contribute over half the proceeds directly to our affiliate organizations combating this pandemic and supporting victims and recovering abusers. We also aim to connect these groups to share resources, tools, ideas, and collaborate. Currently organizations from over 68 countries around the world have officiated their support of Free Yourself.
More importantly, this initiative hopes to bring together all of the voices of the participants of domestic violence, including recovering abusers, victims, children, educators, support agencies and health professionals, law enforcement agencies, politicians, celebrities and social entrepreneurs who work to aid in this cause. It is in this aim that “Free Yourself” inspires us. When all stakeholders come together in a grass roots forum, we strengthen our ability to understand, address, and end the cycle of domestic abuse.
Regardless of whether you are a recovering abuser, victim and/ or professional in this field, we want to here your story. Share it with us on social media using the hashtag #FreeYourselfGlobal or choose to do it anonymously via our website freeyourselfglobal.com. For more information on how to become involved in this breakthrough campaign and how story will be used to help others in need, email firstname.lastname@example.org