My story isn’t an easy one to tell. However, I know that through sharing my story, I can help people like me who have gone through similar experiences.
I was born in Kenya, but my parents were originally from Zanzibar, so I also spent some time there. At an early age, I was separated from my mother and lived with my father's side of the family, where my mother had little influence. My early experiences in Kenya and Zanzibar shaped my perception of women's roles in society.
In Kenya, I saw that women could be leaders and run businesses, which was empowering. However, in Zanzibar, women in such positions were looked down upon, and societal expectations for women were limited to marriage and child-rearing. I couldn't accept that as my only future; I knew there had to be more to life.
Due to cultural norms, I ended up in an arranged marriage, which I initially resisted. I prayed to God, asking to be taken somewhere where I could achieve my dreams and make a positive impact. Little did I know that this arranged marriage would become a stepping stone to my newfound freedom and potential in the UK.
It wasn’t until my divorce until I unravelled the truth and refused to remain in denial. I went through domestic abuse, facing financial and emotional hardships. Though it wasn't physical, the verbal abuse affected me deeply. At first, I thought I needed to be physically abused to call it abuse, but with time, I learnt to recognise its impact on my well-being.
I used this negative experience to fuel my desire to help people like me who had gone through a similar experience. I decided to explore public speaking due to my knack for listening to people's stories and offering guidance. This led me to coaching, and I pursued a diploma in coaching and other related certifications. I loved helping people and empowering them to improve their lives.
Despite finding joy in coaching, I felt there was still more for me to do. I reached a point where I needed someone to talk to and sought help through online therapy. It was then that I realised the tremendous need for mental health support and counselling. There were thousands of people out there just like me who couldn’t get help soon enough and I knew from my own experience how detrimental a 3-6-month waiting period can be in situations like these. After much contemplation, took the step to enrol at the University of East London for clinical psychology degree.
I am now in my last year of university putting all my efforts into my dissertation. I don’t want to stop at just an undergraduate degree, and I want to pursue a doctorate degree. For me it's not about the title or prestige; it's about having the knowledge and skills to genuinely help others. My journey has been filled with ups and downs, but every experience has shaped me into who I am today. I am determined to become a psychologist and make a lasting impact on people's lives.
My advice to everyone is to look at yourself in the mirror and appreciate who you are. There's no one like you, and if you embrace your true self and live authentically, no one can take that away from you. Believe in yourself, and you can achieve anything. Be your own hero and keep pushing forward.
Barke’s autobiography What is Your Name?: How to Go From Being Unchained to Finding True Love, Happiness & Freedom Within is available on Amazon.