ROSS Girls Breaking the Silence

In 1983, the Second Sudanese Civil War erupted between Southern Sudanese and the government in Khartoum. The war displaced millions of Southern Sudanese and over 3 million refugees were resettled in countries (United States, Australia, Canada etc) due to fear of persecution because of their ethnic and religious backgrounds. While in the diaspora, we continued to practice our culture and tradition. To some these cultural practices held us together as a community. To others, like myself, they terrorize marginalized populations like women and children. One of them most common practices that continues till today is child marriage. 

At the age of 14, I was forced into an arranged marriage. Arrange marriages are a common practice in my South Sudanese culture based on monetary gain from the groom seeking to marry, also known as bride price or dowry. It is common in our culture that the bride price is distributed to those of kin family members and relatives to the bride. This leads to girls being forced into marriage at an early age due to secrecy of wealth because of war, conflicts, and other factors connected to poverty. This practice has caused me great physical, psychological, and emotional damage as I refused to accept the marriage as legal or binding; keeping in mind that by international law I was deprived of my rights as a child. It took me 20 years to speak about my experience publicly. At the time I finally spoke, I discovered I was not alone. I am a Survivor. 

The day I had the courage to share my story there were over 4,000 South Sudanese girls and women from around the world who have came forward about their own sexual trauma in various ways and have began to own their stories. We felt liberated and empowered. Together we have recognized patterns, and seek ways to make an impact and change to some of our cultural and traditional practices in our South Sudanese community. Together, Republic of South Sudan (ROSS) Girls are “Breaking the Silence”. Together we will rise. As a group of survivors, we have banded together to raise awareness about the physical and sexual abuses that is rampaging our community. We must break the silence, to break the cycle. Our mother’s generation, the generation before them and the generations passed have always stated “my daughter will make a difference” for they weren’t allowed to have an opinion. Today we have an opinion not because we were allowed but because we are tired. 

Attacking these problems is uniquely difficult due to our cultural norms and practices. We, the victims are silenced and aren't allowed to talk about our experiences because we are held responsible to prevent community and family shame. We would like to break these negative cultural norms, and help create a space for recovery, resilience and restoration. We want to create and/or find resources for women in our community to get the help that we need so we can recover from our traumas and educate our community. The silencing of victims, stigma, worsened by lack of education and has resulted severe depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and PTSD because the victims are unable to receive the proper medical or mental health assistance they desperately need. 

The funds raised will be used to support the victims and educate the community at large of the prevalence of sexual assault, individual and/or group therapy, legal fees, hospital bill assistance, and so much more . The services will be offered at NO cost to the victims with a clear vision for a future filled with safety, justice, education, and hopes that we will be able to drastically reduce the number of sexual assaults in our community. Join us on our road to recovery, help us educate our community, redefining our cultural and traditional norms by reinforces moral values, structure and foundation that fosters freedom, integrity, education, personal responsibility and ethics.

My name is Nyajuok Tongyik, and I have lived in the United States for over 20 years. I have a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing and a Master’s of Science in Public Health. I am driven to use my experience and education, and more importantly my story, our stories to make a difference in our community and am asking for your help. We will do this together.

Together we will rise.

Together we're survivors.

Join us in our movement...


Ross Girls, Breaking the Silence.


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Nyajuok Tongyik 
Schertz, TX

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