Turning to social media for help in custody battles and abuse cases

  • Family
  • Thursday, 28 Aug 2014

Social media has increasingly become an avenue for women to seek/offer help and support for victims of abuse. 

When her husband kept her away from her two-year-old daughter a month ago, Yasmin Karim decided to take her story public. Out of desperation, Yasmin, a former journalist with The Star, has turned to social media to share her plight.

She posted a photo of a police report she made against her husband and the Interim Protection Order she’d obtained to safeguard herself against domestic abuse.

Yasmin’s sister has written a post about Yasmin’s traumatic experience, and has asked social media users to share the post. At press time, the post has more than 2,000 shares.

“It may take months or even a year to obtain a court order for custody of Rania (but) in the interim, I cannot stay idle. I decided to share my story on Instagram and Facebook, hoping that perhaps if my lone voice isn’t loud enough to warrant attention, perhaps the collective voices of women, some of whom might be going through the same situation, may make a difference.

“I want other abused women to realise that although it may be an uphill battle to fight against domestic violence, there are other avenues like the media and social media to tell their stories. I’m not a lawyer or a social activist. I’m just a desperate mother with a story to tell,” shared Yasmin, 33.

She also hoped that by putting her story online, her husband would feel pressured into allowing her to see her baby, but he has not relented.

Yasmin Karim: 'I'm not a lawyer or a social activist. I'm just a desperate mother with a story to tell.'

Social media has increasingly become an avenue for women to seek/offer help and support for victims of abuse. Pictures of rock star Awie’s wife Rozana Misbun with bruises were widely circulated online recently amid allegations of domestic abuse.

Just early this month, American adult film star Christy Mack shared photos of her brutal attack by her ex-boyfriend, MMA fighter Jon Koppenhaver, on Twitter. She followed that with a statement, also on Twitter, about the attack, detailing her injuries.

Rozana and Yasmin are also in the midst of custody tussles.

Despite some negative feedback, Yasmin believes that sharing her story with the public could help her gain access to her daughter.

“To be honest, I think that because this has gotten such a following on social media, things are moving faster for my case as it has the attention of the public. So, I really have no regrets,” says Yasmin.

Women’s Aid Organisation executive director Ivy Josiah acknowledges the platform that social media accords victims of violence but urges women to be mindful of what they post online.

“Women have to decide for themselves what will help them get justice. For instance one of our clients wrote a letter to the editor about her delayed domestic violence case which caught the attention of the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

“Social media has become another way to voice the challenges a survivor has to overcome. Whatever the medium women choose, they should always remember to stay safe, be truthful, consistent and protect themselves from defamation,” she says.

Social media’s wide reach does get the message across to more people that abuse of any kind is a criminal offence that is unacceptable in any circumstance. However, family law practitioner Honey Tan cautions that parents who share their stories may cause their children unwanted pain.

“Parents often forget that their children may be adversely affected by all that publicity as their privacy is lost. It must be hard for children to read horrible things being said about their parents. There is also the consideration that defamation suits may be filed if untrue and defamatory statements are made,” she says.

Related story:

Torn apart: Custody battles exact heavy toll on children

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