Nuang’s Story

Nuang is 17 years old. Her marriage to a man of 60 had been arranged by her family. He was  an ex-military man and very prone to violent outbursts. He drank heavily to cope with his memories of war. Nuang was repeatedly abused both physically and sexually by her husband. If she leaves him shame will fall on her and her family and she will not be able to marry again. She is afraid of this man. One day Nuang discovers she is pregnant. She is desperate and determined to find a way that both her and her baby can survive. So, with the help of a neighbour she runs away. She ends up in a shelter for victims of violence. Nuang, now with a 2-month-old baby begins to attend Arts Therapy sessions. Nuang draws a picture of herself. The girl’s eyes on the paper are full of tears and pain. Nuang tells the Therapist about the girl in the picture, “she is so sad and holds pain like broken glass in her heart”. The Therapist affirms and values the girl in the picture who ‘speaks’ on Veng’s behalf and begins to tell her story – a story of the unspeakable violence that she endured. She feels worthless and so ashamed – right to her core. Slowly, through a gentle process of creativity, art, dance and drama help her to recover the broken Nuang and enable her to begin to believe in herself again. Although life is still so difficult Nuang is on the path to finding a future for herself and her child.

(Carrie Herbert 2008)