Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Suzanne Lossia: Arranged Marriages Today

Suzanne Lossia, is a TV host and author of the book The Arrangement. Based on Lossia’s life experiences, The Arrangement is an inspiring true story of a woman finding her identity after being brought up in a very traditional culture. Lossia’s parents arranged a marriage for her, which set her on the path of love, heartache, pain and overall exile.

Lossia’s father and mother emigrated from Iraq to the United States in the late 1960's where she was born and raised in Detroit Michigan. She has 3 brothers and is the only female sibling. The Lossia family is first generation raised with Christian heritage, values, morals and traditions. Christianity makes up less than two percent of the religious population in Iraq. Suzanne was raised in very strict ways of her born heritage. As a result she was placed into arranged marriage as a young girl. Naïve and not in control of her own choices, she grew the courage to break free and divorced her husband. Still naïve a bit aware but not fully understood or prepared for the scandalous and cruel consequences she would face

Today she is a courageous and inspiring woman who found the strength to go against the grain of the culture she was raised in and seeks independence and destiny-her faith has brought her a long way, her story is heartbreaking but so uplifting. Suzanne "believes in living the American Dream.” Breaking the mold doesn't mean you're turning your back on the community, you can still succeed and represent where you come from. Suzanne believes in independence and the value of being her own person and playing by her own rules to secure a bright future for her and her sons.

I had a chance to interview her to learn more about her story.

Why did you decide to write this book?
My life and the situations I overcame are what pushed me to writer this book. I needed to share my stories with others so that everyone understands that these hardships still occur in today's society. I was growing up in a traditional Christian Chaldean family. My heritage stretches over 5,500 years, originating in Iraq.  My family lives in a nice suburb of Detroit. My  friends are getting driver’s licenses, meeting their first boyfriends and enjoying school dances.  Out of the blue in a matter of hours, my youthful life changes forever.  No longer would I be the innocent young girl they called Suzy. M
y parents and brothers sat me down.  They sternly informed me that I will be moving out of my family’s home.  They also firmly inform me that I was now married. I was merely a teenager in an arranged marriage to a stranger way older  man. I was going to be living with my new husband replacing my familiar family.  I cried for my mother and father to help.  They looked at me like you’re a stranger passing on the street.   I would never experience love from my family again.  I was ordered to do as they say or suffer the consequences. I learned over time how aggressive and intimidating of a man I was married off to.  I discovered my own family’s ability to abuse and turn their backs on me.  Arranged marriages occur across the country, you may even know someone yet it is hidden deep within their family’s culture. Women like myself in fear of exposing the truth often hide behind a curtain of a happy marriage.  All the while suffering abuse, solitude and suffering.  Few people understand how often young girls are taken from their homes and married off for money or tradition.  Mine was on a hand shake between our fathers. I have risked my life for you to learn my story.  I have risked my life for the lives of thousands of women like myself still hiding in danger if exposed.  After reading my story you will understand the dangerous position I now live in to tell the stories of thousands of other women like myself. 

People often don't think about arranged marriages happening in America - can you share a little bit about that?
Would you be surprised to learn that a family in your neighborhood began years ago with the arranged marriage?   We all know that many cultures throughout the world participate in some type of arranged marriages.  Since the United States is comprised of many of these age old cultures, arranged marriages continue even today.  
Ask yourself why this is probably the first time you have heard about this topic?  When you read my story/book you will learn first hand why few if any women come forward.  I lived under constant threats from both my own parents, brothers as well as my arranged husband and his family.  To tell anyone outside of your family would lead to flat out denial by everyone in your community to brutal physical and emotional abuse and on occasion death my Ex.  I decided to personally risk everything I had in life because someone finally needed to speak out and let others know what is going on often in their own back yards.  

How did your struggle affect your relationships?
It took years for me to gather up the courage to write my story. I knew the consequences I would face because I betrayed my culture, family and community. When you read my story you will learn the consequences of my action which in turn lead to my downfall.  At the end of the day I persevered as independent strong women as a result of my new found freedom.  
What advice do you have for other women that may be in similar situations?
“Your freedom is worth fighting and even dying for….never give up and faith!”

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