The shameless sanctuary

Whose House? Sara Usman’s House!

Sara Usman in her home.

Photo by Callie Lugosi

Sara Usman, co-founder of The Shameless Circle, is not ashamed to tell her story.

“The Shameless Circle stems out of my own personal experience,” Usman says. “My ex-husband had installed cameras in my home and had threatened he would release my intimate images if I (went to) the police ... he pleaded guilty and was sentenced for breaking and entering.

“After that incident ... I didn’t want to go out. Literally, I just wanted to hide inside a closet all day. And then just one day, on a Sunday, I thought ‘I can’t continue like this.’”

In terms of having the courage to go public with her story, Usman says “it was really, really scary, but at the same time, it was the question of how to move on with life when something like this has happened.” It was important to Usman that she and her children understood they did nothing wrong, and that together they’d cope with their privacy being grossly invaded.

“I just felt so ashamed,” she says. “I just thought ‘people are seeing me naked’ any time I would go outside.”

Although The Shameless Circle is just over a year old, the organization has seen rapid growth as it gives much-needed support to women who’ve been shamed into silence.

“The Shameless Circle is a volunteer, nonprofit organization. What we do is we have weekly programming. It’s free programming for women who’ve been shamed and feel shunned for any reason, so we bring them together.”

With the organization’s growth, Usman has been busy keeping up with the demand while also being a single parent and having a full-time job. But with so many people coming together to volunteer their time to the organization, Usman has a little more spare time.

Now Usman and her family live in a safer place they have made into a home.

“When we moved here, I think this was more of a safe zone. So we had to like armour it with lots of cameras and lots of locks and stuff, but I think I still feel safe here, so it’s more of a sanctuary.”

1) A sweet gift, eh?

“So my son just made me a cutting board.”

2) Choice reading #1: I, Bificus by Bif Naked

“I would love to meet with her.”

3) Beautiful bird

“This was given to me at the awards, too.”

4) Choice reading #2: Open Heart, Open Mind by Clara Hughes

“She’s an Olympian. She’s very open about her mental health.”

5) Not too shabby

“I just won this award this week.”

6) A little black dress

“I love black dresses.”

Published in Volume 74, Number 18 of The Uniter (February 13, 2020)

Related Reads