Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dependent visas, the process of taking awareness: let's talk about it, shall we?

There are a lot of false myths and half truths about life abroad in general. But there is also a dark zone where real lives abroad don't get any attention at all. This is the case of a huge and yet invisible army of spouses on dependent visas, who are scattered throughout the USA and closed in their own solitude. There are several reasons why real life conditions of spouses on dependent visas don't get the attention they deserve. Besides, the lack of discussion around this topic leads us to wrongly believe that the issue doesn't exist. Nothing could be further away from the truth: behind these self-inflicted and imposed silences there are women (and also men) who are suffering and struggling every day.
The protagonists in the first place don't talk about it. They might find it hard to put into words what they are going through. It takes time to realize what you dealt with and put everything into perspective. Some women don't understand how the visa status has deprived them of everything. They might even blame themselves for not feeling exactly like the American dream wants them to feel. In fact, you are not free, you are not independent, you can not pursue your own happiness and dreams. The world around you goes on but you are sent back in time and you are reliving the worst page of history: legally -to use a mild verb- you depend on your husband, but to face reality as it is, you belong to your partner, just like a slave did to his master. Therefore, silence becomes a shield to protect us from hypocritical criticism, judgment and cynical comments. And you are left alone fighting your own battle for survival. What is worse is when you hear women in politics having a very shallow and dismissive attitude towards this issue claiming things like "after all they decided to come here..."or "they knew what they were doing". Once more, spouses are silenced but this time from the outside; and this attack deeply hurts because it aims at ignoring deliberately this voiceless crowd. Even though these women, invited as guest speakers on TV shows, display all their knowledge; in truth they haven't got a clue. Have you ever lived on a dependent visa? If not, please be kind enough to shut your mouth! You must walk in my shoes for some time before passing on comments.
But dear spouses, it is not all darkness and gloom. Once you take awareness of what is going on around you, don't fall in the spiral of isolation. Get in touch with other women who are living your same experience. Now there is an increasing number of blogs dedicated to this topic. Read, be informed and reach out to others in the same situation as yours. But most importantly, you must try to voice your experience, sharing your story will help you also break those silences we have unjustly suffered. Claiming your own story will help you reassess your identity and self-confidence. 

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