Lessons from Loss
The tragic death of Nawreen Tuli on Christmas Day in McKinney, Texas, casts a spotlight on the profound challenges faced by South Asian survivors of domestic violence in our community. Our hearts go out to the North Texas and Bangladeshi communities, and we stand in solidarity with the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation in expressing our deepest condolences.
Nawreen took commendable steps to protect herself, reaching out to law enforcement and obtaining a protective order against her abusive husband. However, despite these efforts, she became another victim of intimate partner violence. As we reflect on this devastating incident, we must acknowledge the systemic issues that contribute to the prevalence of domestic violence in our society.
During the holidays, a time traditionally associated with joy and togetherness, survivors of domestic violence experience heightened risk, as stress and increased time with abusive partners exacerbate their situations. As the statement from TMWF highlights, on average, police interventions related to domestic violence rise by 20% in December, compared to other months of the year.
Being a recent immigrant without familial support in her new home, compounded Nawreen's vulnerability, reminding us of the challenges related to social stigma and distance from supportive friends and family. This issue must come out from the shadows to prevent the loss of more life.
Nawreen's autopsy report revealed her pregnancy and her cause of death as strangulation, shedding light on the alarming statistics surrounding violence against pregnant women. Women in the US are more likely to be murdered during pregnancy or soon after childbirth than to die from any obstetric cause of maternal death. There is an urgent need to address reproductive coercion and ensure access to reproductive care.
Moreover, the method of homicide, in this case, underscores the importance of recognizing non-fatal strangulation as a critical risk factor. Studies from the NIH show that prior strangulation results in a seven-fold chance of future intimate partner homicide. Screening for such incidents in emergency department settings becomes crucial to identifying potential victims and intervening effectively.
Despite obtaining a protective order, Nawreen's tragic death also emphasizes the limitations of such measures without robust systemic support. Because law enforcement cannot meticulously monitor every perpetrator, collaboration with domestic violence agencies becomes paramount. Trained advocates at culturally specific domestic violence agencies empower survivors by ensuring awareness of their rights, seeking accountability when orders are violated, and providing trauma-informed support in a survivor’s native language, ensuring they can fully comprehend critical, but often confusing legal documents.
The stark truth illuminated by Nawreen's story is that our systems and societies often treat domestic violence as a private family matter rather than the public health crisis it truly is. It calls for a collective shift in perspective and action to dismantle the barriers survivors face in seeking help.
In memory of Nawreen Tuli, we urgently call for increased awareness, advocacy, and action to address domestic violence. These deaths are a profound loss for our community and we remind you to take care of yourself and each other. Daya, in coordination with Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation, will be holding a virtual gathering, led by a licensed therapist, to process and begin to heal together. Registration is required at the link below:
Let this loss serve as a powerful reminder of the need for a future free from violence, where compassion and accountability prevail. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, please call Daya at 713-981-7645 or visit dayahouston.org for more information.
Together, let us strive for a society rooted in safety, compassion, and support for all.