In many BME communities individuals are not encouraged to speak about the traumas and abuse they face. It is often said that “what happens in the family stays in the family” or “do not air dirty laundry”. The above statements and others have silenced many people despite the challenges and difficulties they have faced and are still facing.
Issues such as sexual abuse, mental health, domestic violence, Female Genital Mutilation are just a few of the many issues faced daily by some BME families. Nevertheless, statistic and research based on such matters within the UK are very low.
Due to the lack of awareness about such matters (causing significant harm to children and their families), services to support victims remain limited.
Although challenges and barriers faced (institutionalised racism, inequality and injustice) have an influence on a victim’s decision to access support, the main barrier remains in the community as often victims are not encouraged to speak up about their challenges.
The impact of remaining silent about issues affecting us includes encouraging the behaviours of perpetrators, an increase in emotional and psychological distress (long term) and a continuous stagnancy concerning tailored support to meet the needs to the BME community.
Often, shame and stigmas associated to domestic violence, sexual abuse, mental health etc contribute greatly to the silence. Prejudice, false doctrines and ideologies about such issues prevent individuals from speaking up about issues affecting them. In order to break the silence and to better support victims within our communities we must:
- Be self – aware of our own prejudice about certain subjects
- Challenge any false or negative stereotypes we may hear within our communities
- Encourage ourselves to seek help and support when in need
- Educate ourselves about the impact such issues have on a personal well-being and development
- Work and engage in partnership with appropriate services to create tailored support to meet our needs.
For centuries many people from BME communities have suffered in silence, the notion of keeping things within the family (that are causing significant harm) has contributed to the dysfunction in families, deterioration of mental and emotional health among our people and acceptance concerning harmful behaviour from perpetrators.
It has been acknowledged that the doctrine of remaining silent about issues causing significant has become normalised within many communities which in turn has cause some frowns towards those who speak up about their experiences. Subsequently, the awareness raised by those who share their experiences creates sustainable services that benefit all.
The misinterpretation of statements such as “ do not air dirty laundry” has been the cause of some suicides, mental breakdown and many dysfunctions within our communities. Speaking up about issues affecting us is about seeking restoration and a solution to the problems we face. It is not “airing dirty laundry”.