Aliza Amar knows why some victims of sexual violence stay silent. After all, it’s her story.
“When you are raped or trafficked for sex, your personal strength, courage, self-esteem and confidence are stripped away and destroyed at the core,” Amar said.
It has taken Amar years of therapy to be able to speak openly about her experiences. At 21, after finishing her term with the Israeli military, she stepped into a job interview in Tel Aviv. The “interviewer” assaulted her, recorded the incident, and sold it as pornography.
Amar lived in silence for 39 years until she had a moment of clarity during a 500K Israeli cross-country bicycle ride in 2005. She came to the realization that she needed to talk publicly about her experience because it was something that had happened and was happening to so many others.
Amar is the founder of Breaking The Silence Together, a San Diego-based nonprofit, advocating to bring change and awareness to violence against women.
She led the #MeToo marches in San Diego and partners with educational institutes and other programs to raise awareness. She works to illuminate the issue of human trafficking and sexual exploitation among female students on campus and in the community.
For the last few years, she’s been working with the women at Las Colinas Jail and Girl Rehab Facility. Amar’s vulnerability and willingness to share her experiences encourage the women and girls to disclose their stories. Giving a voice to their experiences helps them heal.
Amar uses the Ending The Game (ETG) curriculum. “That’s what I’m good at,” Amar said, encouraging and motivating women to share and speak out.
Sex trafficking in San Diego generates about $800 million a year. Many of the victims are women and children, some as young as 11.
Victims, who are freed from the sex trade, find it difficult to re-integrate into society. They grapple with serious trauma and the means to provide for their family. Often, they return to what is familiar, life on the street, selling their body and soul for survival.
After many conversations with survivors, Amar understood the importance of job creation. Breaking the Silence Together has plans for an Open Heart Marketplace, a retail store that offers survivors of human trafficking and prostitution a place to earn a living with dignity and pride.
Assisting in Amar’s dream are many people who know that is the ultimate sustainable solution. To shine a light on the magnitude of the problem of human trafficking, Amar also wants to create an educational documentary series. The films will discuss abuse against women through history to the present and uncover solutions to create change.
Amar also plans to create an awakening program, “The Leader Within,” to inspire young people to take on leadership roles in their communities.
Amar has a clear, unshakeable message, one she learned herself: Women’s experiences don’t need outside validation to be true.
“For me to break my silence in public,” Amar said, “I basically told everyone, ‘I don’t need your approval. I’ve been in the room. I know what happened. I know the truth.’”
For more information about Breaking the Silence Together (BTST) or to have Aliza speak visit breakingthesilencetogether.org.