How Author Iram Gilani Used Her Darkest Struggles to Shed Some Light for Others Through Writing
The Woman Behind the Story
Iram Gilani is a Pakistani-American author who has seemingly been through it all: abandonment, physical and emotional abuse, homelessness, and a violent gun assault. However, she’s learned from her experiences and transcended her deep depression and post-traumatic stress disorder to be a voice for the abused and marginalized. That is the basis for her incredibly inspiring book, Silent No More. She acknowledges the incredible impact her brother, Ali, had on her life. Ali, born with developmental challenges, became a savior to her, despite his own limitations. He helped her through some of the darkest moments of her life, and through his actions underscored the importance of acceptance and empathy. She reminds us that having a support system is key to the recovery process, and explains how non-victims can show up for their loved ones. In her memoir, she not only discloses all the trauma she faced with harshly beautiful writing, but through her work she creates a space for other victims to feel solace, comfort, and an uplifting sense of empowerment.
Can you give us a brief summary of your book Silent No More?
In the first few chapters, I highlight anecdotes from my personal life that illuminate my experiences with abandonment, neglect, molestation, abuse, a forced marriage, homelessness, PTSD, and the gunshot wound that shattered my jaw. The second part of the book focuses on the changes I have made to get myself out of my unfortunate circumstances and misery. Specifically, I show my readers the steps I’ve taken to make and follow a positive path to self-help and healing. Finally, in the last part of the book, I offer advice on how to support someone throughout their own healing process. This part of the book focuses on individuals who want to learn more about trauma and how to help those around them -- what they should consider when interacting with someone who might be suffering. I offer advice on how to approach those individuals, extend help, and provide continued support, which is the most critical part of any recovery.
Have you always wanted to become a writer? What inspired you to begin drafting your memoir?
Never in million years did I think that I would ever write or publish a book. However, I knew that sharing these experiences brought me relief, and provided encouragement to those who listened. When I spoke to others about what I’ve gone through, I was able to connect with them and understand that we all deal with our own unfortunate circumstances in life. That is what truly motivated me to write. If I can inspire even one person to survive what life throws their way, then nothing I’ve endured will have been in vain.
Upon reading Silent No More, readers will learn about the most difficult moments in your life -- from being the victim of both mental and physical abuse to being the victim of gun violence as well. Was it challenging for you to write about these experiences? Did you find the process of writing healing?
Absolutely, writing this book forced me to relive many memories I had worked hard to forget my entire life. The most challenging part of recalling those incidents was they were caused by family members who should’ve been my shield growing up. However, I wanted to tell myself and others, regardless of their problems, to focus on the bigger picture. Blaming others for hurting you will not take away your pain. I forced myself to stay positive and find balance in supporting others– even if I lacked help myself. I established a routine, set goals I was determined to accomplish, and never looked back.
Has writing this book in any way changed how you see your past?
By writing this book, I have come to understand how amazingly strong humans can be. Each incident I’ve gone through has made me a better person, and, although no one should ever choose to suffer, the rewards of surviving challenges are gaining more tolerance, acceptance, and a greater understanding of others as well as ourselves. I pray that by sharing my personal experiences, others will be inspired to reach out to me, knowing that I can understand some, or many, elements of their battles. I’ve fought my own, in my own shoes, with my own tools. But together, perhaps we can win the fight.
You’re originally from Pakistan. What was your experience like moving to the US? Did you struggle with the change?
My family first came to the US in 1997 around Christmas, and I was about to turn 13 years old. Never before had I seen entire cities lit up with the beautiful glow of colorful lights. I was in awe. Coming to the United States was the chance for me to start my life over. I could be freed from my past experiences with molestation, abuse, neglect, and isolation; I was finally able to erase that dark time from my life forever. While my transition to living in the US brought with it the expected changes of moving to a new country, at the time, all I wanted was to enjoy what my new life in America could offer.
What message do you hope readers will take away from your remarkable story of resilience?
I want people suffering from unfortunate circumstances in their life – whether it is physical or non-physical abuse, neglect, PTSD, or anything else – to understand that they are not alone. They are stronger than they know. Don’t give up! Keep fighting and believe that things will get better. Moreover, I hope the people who have been privileged enough to never experience abuse or trauma realize how important of a role they play, or can play, in the lives of those around them. Please, extend your hand and provide support to someone who might need it now more than ever. Your kindness can save a life.
What are you working on right now? Do you have any plans to write another book?
Yes, I would love to continue writing as I learn more techniques to help myself and others as we heal. We are never too old to learn from one another. Sharing knowledge with those around us is essential to appreciating the little things life offers us, which we might overlook otherwise. Currently, my focus has been to promote my book and garner as much publicity for it as I can. I am using this time to spread the word to anyone looking to pick up something new to consider my book. I have also been mentoring children over video calls.
To find out more about this inspiring heroine, check out Iram Gilani’s website right here. Her memoir is offered for free on her website, so please spread the word about her incredible story as anyone can be inspired and empowered by her message. Whether you’re a victim of abuse, PTSD, or simply interested in seeing how she navigated her incredibly dark journey to a brighter one, her book is certainly a gripping yet uplifting and hopeful read.