We have the power to turn our lives around: Shirin Ariff

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Author Shirin Ariff recently released her memoir ‘The Second Wife: Seduced Into Slavery’. She shared her story of domestic violence and how she found her way out of the storm with CanIndia News.

In her memoir The Second Wife: Seduced Into Slavery’, Shirin Ariff takes us back to her picturesque childhood with her prestigious Indian family. She was expected to marry well, have children, and please her husband till death do them part. Her first marriage cut that timeline short when he was plagued by drug addiction. After separating from her first husband, she remarried an Indian man living in Canada, hoping to start a new life. Instead, Shirin was kept as a slave in her own home, enduring endless verbal and emotional abuse. However, she learned to nourish the love she had for her children into love for herself and change her story. Here are excerpts of our interview with her.

What motivated you to write your story?
My children are my biggest motivation. They had witnessed me as weak and waning in power and dignity. I would live in fear that my children would become complacent about abuse and see it as a normal way of life. In sharing my story, I found my voice back. I wanted to leave a legacy behind for my children. They now see me as someone who flipped the narrative of her story and took charge of her life. They know that it is not okay not only to abuse but to be abused or even silently witness someone else being abused.

What is the message that you want readers/women to take away from your memoir?
My message to my readers is that we have the choice and the power to turn our lives around. We have the power to shift from being a victim to a survivor. If I could overcome such adversities in my life, so can they. It is not okay to be abused. It is not okay to be silent and expect someone else to change the world.

How can you help women make a change?
Women have to own their stories and come forward and share them. People need to know the truth about what goes on behind closed doors of many homes. Accepting themselves as whole, perfect and complete, just the way they are, they have to agree to have freedom and respect in their lives. Women need to take a stand and demonstrate bold leadership. They need to be up-standers and not bystanders. They play significant roles in raising children in the family. Mindful parenting, practising gender equality and ensuring that they are not “raising abuse” would make women responsible for the changes they wish to see in the world around them.

Tell us about the “Be Your Own North Star” program.
Be Your Own North Star is a women’s empowerment program. I work one on one with women, especially immigrant women who are dealing with challenges in their lives and feeling miserable, diminished and disempowered. It is not enough to have an external structure in place. Women need to feel strong, safe and supported from within and be willing to reach out for help and avail of those support systems in the community.

Most women, especially those from our ‘South Asian/ Indian background, are conditioned to live their lives by default and on deadlines. Girls have to be married by a certain age, bear children by a certain age, behave and dress in certain ways during different stages of their lives, take permission for the choices they want to make in their lives. As a result, most women are unable to take on leadership and decision making roles in their lives. They live their entire leaves feeling confused and insecure and very dependent.
Be Your Own North Star allows women to plug into themselves. It creates the scope for women to learn to access their own inner guidance and practice making choices for themselves. The program builds and empowers women to stop living their lives by default and on deadlines set by others and to begin living their lives by design, their own design.
A team of us, each skilfully experienced, passionate and committed, will be working on launching a chapter in Brampton to empower women in more ways than one. From supporting them with language proficiency, financial literacy, health and wellness and legal information and understanding, we have them all. Our presence in Brampton would primarily be to empower immigrant women.

Any books in the pipeline?
I have co-authored a book called “Healing” by Platinum Publishing which will be launched later this year. As a co-author, there are two more books that I am contributing chapters to and working on. I have seen my children suffer and surface with me. They are my little super heroes and I promised them that I would write a book on them. This would be my little token of gratitude and acknowledgement for them.

As a cancer survivor, I am passionate about writing a book to empower those who are dealing with a critical illness like cancer. I am looking forward to begin working on it too. -CINEWS

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