The Journey of Recovering from

Gender-Based Violence:

The Ecstasy of Triumph and the Agony of Defeat

By Betsy Kawamura
January 4, 2011

This chapter examines the plight of a survivor of gender-based violence (GBV) and the circumstances of women and children of the Asia Pacific region affected by the presence of the military. ”A,” is an Asian American woman who had been subjected to gender-based violence as a young child in Okinawa in the early 1970’s by a Caucasian middle-aged male during the height of the Vietnam War.  She writes of her experience in overcoming significant challenges in her life caused by childhood violence. She describes her institutionalization  and pathway to recovery, and her tragic vulnerability to further gender-based violence years later briefly under prostitution.  She finally lands in her current role as an advocate and consultant to help other women toward empowerment and to steer decision-making bodies on relevant U.N. resolutions.

Today “A” works as an advocate and adviser, to raise international awareness of the devastating consequences of military gender-based violence. She aims to focus especially on Far East Asia so that such atrocities will no longer be repeated and amelioration will be possible for the survivors through tools such as United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325[1], 1820[2] and CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women)[3].

“A” reflects on the challenges of bringing her identity into the open despite substantial personal risks and compromises.   ”A”’s account describes the  issues of the human need for intimacy, the transformative powers of spiritual love or agape, personal systems to recovery, and background information on gender-based violence including militarized prostitution. “A” wishes that all survivors’ endeavors will contribute toward knowledge banks for state-level decision makers, military personnel, health professionals and for the public. Last but not least, she hopes that this chapter can encourage others toward survival and triumphing over violence.

[1]Basic definition of UNSCR 1325- Peacewomen

[2] Basic definition of UNSCR 1820 – Peacewomen

[3] Basic definition of CEDAW

To read A’s Story, click here.