The Empowerment of Sil Lai Abrams | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

The Empowerment of Sil Lai Abrams

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Sil Lai Abrams will talk about losing the drama and surviving domestic violence Thursday at the Pearl Street AME Church and this weekend at Jackson State.

Empowerment specialist and domestic-violence awareness activist Sil Lai Abrams, author of the book "No More Drama: Nine Simple Steps of Transforming a Breakdown Into a Breakthrough," expresses a desire to help women live healthy and fulfilling lives, generated from her own troubled past. Abrams, born in Hawaii and raised in California and Florida, currently lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., with her two children. In the past, Abrams was a fashion model and held positions in entertainment industry event planning. She currently works as Men's Fitness magazine's resident relationship expert. She is the creator of a process called SEPIA, Self Empowerment Principles in Action, which enables women to live fulfilling lives. A woman must be willing to work toward her goals and to learn from mistakes, she says. Abrams answered questions about her book and the problem of domestic violence by phone.

Can you tell me about the crisis that led you to writing this book?
I am a survivor of emotional trauma and domestic violence. For five years, I experienced a relationship with a man who was abusive—emotionally, mentally, physically and financially. After the end of this relationship and another, I became so depressed that I was not able to get out of bed for three months. I literally begged God to let me die—the depression was that crippling. I decided to write (a) memoir for my two children, and when I sat down to do this, I realized that the end of a relationship did not have to be a break down. I discovered nine steps that would enable me to transform the breakdown into a breakthrough, and these formed the SEPIA process.

Can you tell me about the SEPIA process?
The SEPIA process' goal is to achieve self-empowerment. It includes nine steps: truth, acceptance, action, commitment, focus, faith, love, humility and charity. The first seven steps concern attaining a powerful, activity-based mindset. The remaining two steps—humility and charity—concern keeping this mentality once it is attained. After attaining this ethos, the steps will show in a person's daily life, and he or she will become a powerful person.

Who are your target readers? Is the book only applicable for women, or can men benefit as well?
I wrote the book mainly for women; that's why the cover is pink. Women of all ages, from those in college to the elderly, read the book and learn from it. However, the SEPIA process may also be applied to men. In fact, men have attended my conferences and afterward spoke to me about the affect of SEPIA on their life. SEPIA is not for a single gender or age. Anyone can benefit.

How does SEPIA apply to domestic violence?
I based much of the book on my experiences of being in an abusive relationship. Because it was written with these experiences in mind, any woman in an abusive relationship can apply the SEPIA process to come to accept that an abusive man will not change. She must take charge by accepting this truth and taking action to escape the relationship. These three steps—truth, acceptance and action—are the first three aspects of SEPIA. Therefore, SEPIA may be directly applied to domestic violence.

How can a woman recognize a potentially abusive relationship?
In order to prevent an abusive situation, a woman must be honest with the beginning stages of a relationship. She must consider the man's actions and if they are potentially dangerous. For example, if he begins placing limits on a woman's social life or treats others without respect, a woman must consider the possibility of the man becoming abusive. After accepting that a relationship may be potentially isolating, disrespectful and dangerous, a woman must take action and get out of the relationship before this occurs.

What is the main theme of the book?
My goal is to teach women that joy and fulfillment are obtainable after pain. The past does not define who a woman is in the present. By taking 100 percent accountability for her own thoughts, actions and feelings, she can obtain the life that she has been searching for. SEPIA is about doing the work to attain a self-empowered life through transformation and rebirth.

Do you have any future plans to write another book? If so, will you focus on the same topic or diverge into something different?
I plan on writing another book. I am currently in the process of developing the proposal now. The book's theme will revolve around empowerment and narrative nonfiction and will teach through narrative experiences. I am keeping the specifics mum, though.

What are you speaking about during your time in Jackson?
At the AME Church sanctuary event, I will focus on developing healthy relationships and what to look out for in potentially abusive relationships. At the symposium at Jackson State University, I will speak on the ways to develop a healthy lifestyle. I hope to raise awareness of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which is taking place throughout the month of October. The Jackson State University event also coincides with its Domestic Violence Awareness Week.

Abrams will speak at the Professional Women's Group Dress for Success domestic-violence event on Thursday, Oct. 29, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Pearl Street AME Church sanctuary. Abrams will speak again at the Women's Health Symposium from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31, at Jackson State University. Jackson State University's Domestic Violence Awareness Week takes goes through Oct. 30.

October: Domestic Violence Awareness Month
The Professional Women's Group of the Metro Jackson Affiliate of Dress for Success is sponsoring Sil Lai Abrams, author of "No More Drama," Thursday, Oct. 29 at the Pearl Street AME Church (2519 Robinson St.), from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. Abrams' topic will be "An Ounce of Prevention: Nine Steps to Cultivating Self-Love," bringing to life the importance of self-love and how to identify an unhealthy relationship before getting involved. Jackson Free Press editor-in-chief Donna Ladd moderates. Admission is free, and Abrams will have copies of her book available . Call 601-985-9888 or e-mail {encode="jackson@dressforsuccess.org" title="jackson@dressforsuccess.org"}.

Jackson State University is holding several events throughout the week. Students can win an iPod Touch by attending any session and signing the dating violence pledge. • 6 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 28, Calling All Brothers: Gentle(Man) seminar at the Student Center Theater, sponsored by JSU Greek fraternities.
• 6 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 28, Ladies First: Self-defense seminar at the Jacob Reddix Union Study Lounge, sponsored by the Survivors.
• 5:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 30, Candlelight vigil in memory of dating/domestic violence victims at the Gibbs-Green Plaza.

For information, go to the JSU Web site (http://www.jsums.edu) and click on the Domestic Violence Awareness Week link under Campus News.

Finally, the BET Foundation, Honey Nut Cheerios and General Mills are co-sponsoring a Women's Health Symposium Saturday, Oct. 31 at the JSU Arena (1400 Lynch St.), from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. The symposium is a national annual four-city tour that brings together women of color for health education, fitness facts and fun. The day culminates with entertainment from national recording artists, including gospel great Vickie Winans, R&B songstress Deborah Cox and Grammy Award nominee Kelly Price.

The symposium offers a full day of health education and awareness, including a morning fitness session, expert panel discussions and workshops with health professionals, health screenings, exhibits and book signings with authors Bern Nadette Stanis—"Thelma" from the long-standing TV show "Good Times"—and Sil Lai Abrams.

Attendance is free, but advance registration is required. For information or to register, call 1-866-356-7348 or visit http://www.ahealthybet.com.

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