styleandsubstance, interview

style + substance // Somy Ali of No More Tears

The style + substance series was born as a celebratory corner in the internet, as my way of supporting women that exude power, vision, strength, drive, leadership and blend it with vulnerability, femininity, poetry, romanticism and inspiration.  

This is a different type of portrait, where style took second place.  Somy Ali is a force of nature, an advocate for change, a woman of passion who took her personal experience of domestic abuse as a motivator to help others, as many as she can, day after day.

If this is not strength and inspiration, what is it? Talking about her personal style sounded insignificant when I wanted to know much more. Somy is gorgeous inside and out. 

The numbers on human traffickng, domestic violence and sex exploitation are staggering. Miami falls 3rd place in the humiliating, infuriating and revolting statistics of cities in the US for human trafficking, a podium that nobody would want to race for. 

Sexual assault, unfortunately, has been in the news for the wrong reasons in the last couple of weeks, that I wonder how does that make you feel, as a victim yourself. Because it hurts and shakes me.

SA - It makes me sick to my stomach. For me, no amount of therapy will ever undo what happened at the age of five, then nine and, again, in my teenage years. I am appalled as to how far Trump has come and how much damage he continues to do on a daily basis. What’s more appalling is that he has followers that speak the same language and carry the same beliefs. This does not help ease any victim’s pain, nor does it encourage him/her to speak out and seek help. Trump’s actions and words have assaulted victims of abuse all over again. He is blatantly ridiculing victims that have been courageous enough to speak up. This is the primary reason we are afraid to tell anyone what has happened to us. This is definitely not the progress I wish to see in our society when it comes to the issue of sexual abuse. 

Your job is tough, heartbreaking, it requires strength, determination, legal knowledge and law enforcement, yet you conduct yourself with such tenderness, femininity and grace. That duality is something peculiar and innate to women, yet do you think it is one of the reasons men feel freedom to abuse of them?

SA - Absolutely. Certain men though, a specific type of mindset, a specific culture where it is taught that we reside in a male dominated world. I have dealt with and faced these specific mindsets in Pakistan, India and the U.S. I know I will continue to encounter them, as they do not have any prejudices. 

As for the duality, I find that to be fascinating in women and believe it is what makes us so unique and so beautiful. I would not want to lose that about myself as it assures me that I am still good in spite of all the bad I have encountered. 

I disagree with the requirement of eliminating the very element that makes us women.
— Somy Ali

Vulnerability, sentimentalism, romanticism and grace are some values that come natural to women, how can we use them as a source of strength instead of keep hiding them in male dominated environments where power still means, anachronistically, wearing the pants?  

SA - I have learned many lessons in ten years and have dealt with the best and the worst when it comes to humans. I had to teach myself how to use all of the above-mentioned traits with simply one goal in mind: rescue more victims. I disagree with the requirement of eliminating the very element that makes us women. We have many role models that have held on to their femininity, yet, are changing the world. They are ambitious and strong.  

We must remove the stigmas attached to vocalizing sexual abuse
— Somy Ali

You have helped thousands of women and families and children and we are all inspired by you. How do you think we can assist your grassroots tireless job to help break the silence on human trafficking and abusive relationships? How do we tell our children? 

SA - The most important aspect of taking a stand against abuse is talking about it. As a society we must find it normal to discuss these issues at our dinner table. We need to train ourselves to be less selfish. We must remove the stigmas attached to vocalizing sexual abuse. 

I would also encourage people to donate to non-profits where the majority of their funds go towards their mission, not their admin costs. NMT takes pride in using every dollar towards our victims’ services programs and we do not have paid staff, solely volunteers.

We have to speak with our children, as the statistics are terrifying. 325,000 children are at risk for becoming victims of sexual exploitation in the United States. The average age of entry into the sex trade in America is 12–14 years old. And, a pimp can make $150,000-$200,000 per child each year while exploiting an average of 4-6 girls. These stats are real and we really need to sit with our kids and explain this to them.

We can’t win this war by ignoring it and hoping it will go away. This is not a third world country issue, this is happening here. Our children are being trafficked from one state to another. 


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