A talk for a change


Wambui Bahati gives her inspirational performance on domestic violence at the Wadleigh Theatre in Daggy Hall on Monday October 13, 2014.

BY SHANE MICHARD | Evergreen reporter

Combining acting prowess with personal experience, motivational speaker and Broadway performer Wambui Bahati travels the country on a quest to shed light on all aspects of domestic violence.

Part of WSU’s Week Without Violence, Bahati’s one-woman show, “I Am Domestic Violence,” showed an audience Monday night in Daggy Hall the personal side of physical and psychological abuse that is usually hidden by victims.

“If you experience any abuse in any relationship, it is going to manifest later in life,” Bahati said. “You must take the leap and tell somebody what happened; it’s about talking.”

After multiple abusive relationships and a fight against bipolar disorder, Bahati went through a personal metamorphosis and decided to help those on either side of the spectrum, victim or abuser, understand the hidden effects and red flags associated with domestic abuse.

Using various monologues, Bahati dons different jackets and sweaters to represent several archetypes of abuse: the “typical” abuser, who claims they had no choice, the little girl who lives with abuse at home, or the woman who is afraid to stand up for herself. Each character and situation is loosely based on actual events experienced by Bahati and each is presented as a type of emotional conversation with the audience.

She said her time in a mental hospital due to bipolar disorder was a factor in the creation of ‘I Am Domestic Violence,’ and giving men and women who have been victimized hope is the most rewarding aspect. 

“People email me, telling me that I motivated them to make the change in their life that they needed to,” Bahati said. “That is what keeps me going.”

Transforming her past anguish into a vessel of hope for others, Bahati’s animated and boisterous personality present a dark subject in a much lighter, less heavy-handed way that is much more interactive.

“We really wanted to switch it up this year,” said Morgan Brown, president of the Coalition for Women Students. “The main goal of Week Without Violence is to give victims resources for dealing with abuse and when you get a different kind of speaker you get a different kind of audience.”

Brown said college-aged women are most likely to be victims of physical or psychological abuse, which is why it is so important to inform university campuses.

Bahati’s out-of-the box methods are what make her presentations on abuse so impactful, said audience member Chris Cocchiarella.

“I think keeping people engaged is the best way to teach anything,” Cocchiarella said.

Bahati stressed the importance of supporting battered women’s shelters, as opposed to confronting the abuser directly. She said that often times confronting an abuser will do nothing but make them angrier.

When asked what it would take to completely abolish domestic abuse, Bahati answered quickly, “Self-love, self-honor, and self-respect.”