WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS - LUALIMA HANSEN
AUTHOR / PACIFIC WOMENS REFUGE ADVOCATE
I was born in Samoa - Faleasiu, where my mother is originally from, with Irish Grandparents. My father is also from Samoa - Taungamanono, his father is Niuean and hails from Lakepa.
We moved to Auckland, New Zealand as children and we were raised in South Auckland. I am now married to Craig Hansen, we have three beautiful children and have spent 5 1/2 years in Jakarta, Indonesia, in a variety of ministry roles through our local church.
I have just recently published my autobiography book - Grace Brought Me Here. As a survivor of domestic violence, I am in New Zealand promoting it and working with the Pacific Islands Women's Refuge on a fundraiser event, where proceeds from my book launch will go towards supporting this great organization.
I also started an online clothesline business catered for plus size men ranging Size L up to sizes 10xl - The 3Bears Online, which has customers worldwide.
You are an author of the book - 'Grace brought me here' can you please tell us a bit about the book and what made you want to write the book?
Grace Brought Me Here gives you a vulnerable and raw insight into my compelling journey of grace. I retell my story with a great deal of transparency, authenticity, and courage, revealing some of my darkest and most profoundly heart wrenching moments of brokenness. I share stories of God's relentless pursuit of me and shine a light on the circumstances behind my dysfunctional, repetitive behaviors. My story demonstrates how to recognize the importance of insignificant moments; these led me beyond my shame and pain, discovering strength and purpose. My story has the power to encourage others to look back over the unexplored details of our own lives, to find new levels of healing that have been hiding in plain sight.
As a result of me sharing my story in Jakarta before the book was even a thought, it opened doors and connections with organizations and communities who were already working with sexually exploited young women. By being vulnerable and transparent with sharing my story of abuse, abortion, and prostitution, we were able to get our program up and to running and continue to work closely with these organizations and communities.
After a couple of years, my husband encouraged me to write a book. It took some convincing, but once I realized the power that I had to add value to others through my story, I took up the challenge and started the writing process.
You're currently living in Indonesia with your family, running a programme to transform the lives of sexually exploited women through rehabilitation & restoration back into the community - can you tell us about the programme and how you came to pioneer it in Indonesia?
The program itself already had a team already around it; unfortunately, no one could commit to the time that was needed to drive it forward and take real ownership of it and to execute the plans and bring it into reality. Because of my background and experience, and my heart to want to serve in this capacity, I stepped forward to pioneer the programme. Before handing the reigns back over to the team, I was able to facilitate and manage all the documentation and legal paperwork to ensure the foundation become a legal entity. We also set up and fully furnished a home that can house up to 10 girls at a time which was funded by a dinner gala that I was able to coordinate with the help of the team.
We hired staff and worked closely with Craig Hansen (my husband) to build a business arm that would contribute to making the home and program self-sufficient. By importing manuka honey and selling it and creating a thrift shop that the first couple of girls that we rescued were able to learn new skills that would contribute to their employment skills. The program allows young women to gain an education to staircase them in either further education or employment. They had access to counselors and programs that would help work them in a holistic approach. The program runs from 12+ months, which is done case by case, depending on each survivor's progress.
This month you're in New Zealand to raise money and awareness for the Pacific Women's Refuge. Can you please tell us about the work that the Pacific Women's refuge has been doing and what immediate needs they have.
The Pacific Island Women's Refuge offers a 24-hour crisis intervention service line and safe haven for women and children experiencing family violence and abuse, together with emergency accommodation, support, advocacy, telephone, and community education programmes. The provide a referral to appropriate services, home assessments for security and safety purposes.
They also offer installation of security measures, through education and training of clients, communities and partner agencies. Access to PIWR services can be done by contacting 0800 73384 or 09 6344662. Police 111, Pacific Island networks, Social services, local churches or Radio PI.
The Auckland based center takes women and children from all over Auckland. The specific need is $3500 for a high capacity washing machine as, at peak times, the safe house can cater for up to five families at the same time. We are less than 1/4 of the way towards our goal. We'd welcome any contributions or donations towards this.
How has your upbringing & culture shaped you into the woman you are today?
I come from a very violent background, a home that was more often than not ruled by manipulation and fear in various forms of abuse. Growing up in this environment was considered to be quite reasonable. It wasn't until I grew up and started to broaden my capacity and world view that I realized there are parts of my upbringing that affected my ability to establish and maintain healthy relationships. This belief systems limited my movement forward and would often become my default way of behaving and so to speak, my comfort place because it was what I was accustomed to as normal. When I discovered my faith I had to learn to build a new mindset, find different ways of coping and responding and I was challenged to take a look at rewriting the codes to those default negative behaviors.
I realized I used these as a means of self-preservation. I am now at a point in my life where I can look take a look at my past and as painful and significant as it was, it's not the most valuable part of who I am. It is not what defines me. I have learned to value the power of my story, and how it effects (not only on my own heart but the lives of others that have shared similar struggles). Settling into and understanding the power of my story and the role that God has in it, has allowed me to live beyond the past and stand on the conviction and courage of knowing who I am today. I remind myself that I am more valuable than my story, gifts or abilities.
What advice would you give to Pasifika women who are in situations of domestic violence?
As Pasifika women, we are taught to keep domestic violence issues quiet. Due partly to the shame it brings to our families and communities that we are part of. Our Pasifika culture has a strong sense of pride for our communities and families, and from my perspective growing up, the roles of women were to merely clean and tend to the needs of the family, sacrificing a great deal of who we are as women for the greater good of others so to speak. There is often the fear of how family members and communities will respond if we do decide to speak out. As Pasifika women the burden of speaking out about the abuse can prompt questions such as "will I be ostracised from my peer groups? "will my speaking out be swept under the carpet to protect the wider community and family?. "Will I be the one to receive the blame for the actions of others. These are the type of questions that I would see that would dictate a women's decision in coming forth, during my years as a child in a home of domestic violence. This leaves a woman feeling very isolated and alone, feeling like there is no way out of these situations. Therefore remaining in these toxic relationships has more of a systemic reach into the next generation and is accepted as a normal part of life, left to repeat the cycle over and over again.
My advice would be to find someone to speak to, a trusted source, preferably someone outside of your family and community. Just doing that can alleviate the burden and help with the feelings of isolation, without you fearing the repercussions of it coming back to the abuser. Then get in contact with organizations such as P.I.W.R who can offer you the right services and support according to your situation and who will likely start to assist you with planning your escape/exit plan, that does not affect your safety. Your safety and the safety of your children (if you have them), is the number one priority. Your life and the life of your kids are valuable. It's essential for your recovery and healing to remain with the process and take advantage of the resources available to you, that will assist you in your healing journey.
Who or what inspires you?
Oh, where do I start? I find inspiration in many different forms and people. It's what I believe adds to growing my capacity, being who I am and the woman I see myself transitioning into at different levels. Nature in all its forms and colors inspires me and reminds that there is a masterful creator at work behind the scenes, who makes all things beautiful in its time. This has allowed me to learn to shift my eyes and the position in which I view challenges and life lessons. I have discovered the power of different perspectives and postures on life, and it's ever-changing vistas. I am a learner at heart, and I am on the constant lookout for ways to grow in all areas of my life, as a mum, women, and as a wife. My husband inspires me, with his live-big-dream-big take on life. His constant desire to encourage me on this journey of discovering who I am and embracing the new levels at which I find myself in. Each of my three children inspires me through the different ways that they respond to their own life's challenges. Great leaders and pioneers of faith like Bishop TD Jakes, John Maxwell, and John Bevere inspire me through their no-nonsense approach of building a firm faith foundation.
If you'd like to order Lima's book 'Grace Brought me Here' - it is available online in New Zealand via all major online stores or you can contact Lima directly and she'll post out a paperback.
Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
You can contact her via email for account details to support the PI Womens refuge fund for the washing machine too.