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Walking Out of an Abusive Marriage, I Now Help Traumatised Women Rewrite Their Stories

Walking out of an abusive marriage, Smita Bharti, the Executive Director of Sakshi NGO, found an unconventional way to help women in prisons and survivors of domestic abuse - theatre.

Walking Out of an Abusive Marriage, I Now Help Traumatised Women Rewrite Their Stories

In 1995, Smita Bharti decided to rewrite her story when she walked out of an abusive marriage.

Today, 28 years later, she is still holding the pen, trying to find the perfect words. But through this long and challenging journey, she has had an unassuming support — theatre.

At a young age, Smita would write plays and enact them. “I was always fascinated by how theatre makes one feel safe and allows one to ‘be’ another,” she recalls. So, when she felt lost in life, she turned to theatre once again.

Smita Bharti works with survivors of abuse and trauma and helps them heal through theatre
Smita Bharti works with survivors of abuse and trauma and helps them heal through theatre, Picture source: Smita

Smita’s experiences in her journey taught her the fundamental wrongs of society. Women, she says, are often made to believe since their formative years that marriage is an end goal. “Doli mein jaaegi, arthi mein aaegi (will leave on a palanquin and come back only in a bier).”

But, her life is a testament that there is more to the journey than this. Today, Smita is helping other abuse survivors find the reigns of their lives.

In her role as Executive Director of Sakshi NGO, she works with women and adolescents in challenging circumstances — those in prison, victims under trial, survivors of domestic violence, and mentally disabled individuals.

Together with them, she is trying to create a safe space where women feel heard and empowered to tell their stories and begin their healing journeys. “I want to create an environment where abuse survivors are cherished and celebrated. I want to help them break out of vicious circles of fear and choicelessness, and actively seek to transform their lives.”

Here’s how she is changing the norms:

Edited by Pranita Bhat

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