Jacqueline Maduneme – Survivor and Author of Ada’s Daughter
- September 24, 2011
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Jacqueline Maduneme is an extraordinary woman and survivor. Born in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Jacqueline endured years of abuse until one day she decided to take control of her life and rise above her past. Her new book, Ada’s Daughter, describes her incredible journey and is a message of perseverance and survival. I had the pleasure of speaking with her about her journey and what she hopes other victims and survivors will learn from her book.
Learn more about her work at www.jmaduneme.com
OAA: What motivated you to write Ada’s Daughter and to share your experiences with others?
JACQUI: My desire to make a contribution to the improvement of the human situation. The sheer number of violence against women and girls in the world today is staggering and our suffering largely remains a private and silent struggle. These are still uncomfortable issues to discuss publicly, but that very reason makes it imperative that we talk about them. So, for me, I was motivated to write Ada’s Daughter, not just to reflect on the violence against women and girls, but to be that voice for the voiceless and to provide hope for the hopeless.
OAA: How did you make peace with your abuse and finally come to accept your past?
It was a long and uneasy journey and I made wrong choices along the way. But a combination of counseling and spiritual journey helped me make the break through. The counseling was more to help me reflect on and examine every aspect of my life. For a long time, I didn’t want to confront my past at all, but it finally became apparent to me after a particularly abusive relationship that I had to break the cycle. No one could do that for me. I alone could take that journey, and my visits to a therapist helped keep me honest.
And with every discovery, my spiritual journey helped me understand and accept my past, and also forgive. I had to make peace with, and accept my abusive past because I had to move on. It was holding me back from having a healthy relationship with myself and with others. There’s nothing I can possibly do about the past, but I have a whole future ahead of me and I didn’t want to miss it by holding onto something I couldn’t change if I tried.
OAA: What advice do you have for other victims or survivors of abuse?
I’ll try to be brief because this can take up many pages. For people who are in abusive relationships, my advice to them is to find a way to stop being a victim. Especially with foreigners in the U.S., they don’t always understand what their rights are. Find help. Find someone you trust and can confide it. And know this; it’s not going to stop just because the abusive partner promised it won’t ever happen again. It will happen again, and the longer you stay in it, the worse it’ll get. And sometimes, the solution may involve walking away from the relationship or getting the law involved.
For survivors, don’t rush into another relationship…don’t look for another crutch. Take time for you. Take that journey of self discovery. Get to know you and love you and validate you. Be your own best friend. You have to set a core foundation of believing in and valuing yourself. Learn to truly value yourself as a person. You can’t ask for someone to love and respect you if you don’t feel the same for yourself. You’re not going to be in a place where you can start making good decisions regarding relationships and will end up where you were before.
OAA: What kind of limitations do you feel need to be addressed in the domestic violence community?
At the end of the day, victims have to come forward and speak up. People are still not willing to do that for various reasons that range from fear to shame to pride. It’s a very emotional issue, especially where the abusive person is known and loved/liked in the community. The most that can be done is to make people aware that there is help if they need, but you can’t force someone to get help. However, I would say that where children are involved, that is, if a person has a credible reason to suspect a child abuse situation, the authorities should be notified.
OAA: Can you tell us more information about your book?
Ada’s Daughter is an amazing survival story. It’s both my story and a haunting reflection of violence and abuse against women and girls in our world today. It takes the readers through my abusive and violent childhood in Nigeria as a small girl to my experiences as a woman in the U.S. It reveals the secrets we keep as daughters and the choices we make as mothers, and inspires us to reflect on our own experiences and find our true selves. It is truly a haunting survival story that will amaze the most jaded reader!
OAA: Are there any thoughts you’d like to share with our readers?
One of the quotes that I still hold dear is the quote from Invictus “ I am the Captain of my soul”. A great person isn’t one who has never experienced adversity but instead one who has handled adversity well.
Find the strength and courage within yourself and don’t give up. The journey won’t be easy but it can’t be any worse than where you’re going through or what you’ve been through. You have to just look forward to creating a better future for yourself and don’t be afraid to do that because the alternative is unacceptable. Don’t be afraid and don’t look back. It will be well worth it.