As night falls, Somy Ali, a former Bollywood actress who’s now a social activist, sits wide awake by the phone. She’ll spend hours like this in case of a call from a victim of sexual, emotional or physical abuse. “I was abused myself,” Ali says. “I’ve spent years battling in silence, and I’ve decided no more. This mission literally knocked on my door.”
Ali, 41, is the founder of No More Tears, a non-profit that rescues domestic violence victims brought from around the world to South Florida. This fall, the organization marks a decade of providing resources to more than 4,000 men, women and children.
“There are so many people from other countries who face this violence,” she says. “The mission has always been to help domestic violence victims, but over the years, it’s permeated toward human and sex trafficking, rape and other sex crimes. It’s all in the same family.”
Much of Ali’s life has been spent on the move. In her early teens, her father relocated her from Pakistan, where she was born, to Miami, so she could receive a better education. But a few years later, at 15, Ali moved to Mumbai hoping to find, and maybe even marry, Bollywood superstar Salman Khan.
“I was obsessed with Bollywood movies,” she says. “I got it in my head that this is what I was going to do, so I convinced my parents that I wanted to experience South Asian culture, but I had a different plan.”
Once in Mumbai, Ali met a film producer who helped launch her career. In the 1990s, she starred in 10 films, including “Andolan,” “Yaar Gaddar” and “Aao Pyar Karen,” with A-list actors like Sanjay Dutt and Om Puri. Early on, she caught the attention of Khan, who asked her to act in his movie, “Buland,” in 1992, which never released. From there, the two formed a romantic relationship that lasted eight years.
“Two months before our wedding, he cheated on me,” she says. “It turned out to be the best thing for me. After we broke up, I moved back to Miami in 2000 and went
In 2007, Ali launched No More Tears, funded with the remaining money saved from her acting career.
“When I live in Pakistan and worked in India, I witnessed a lot of injustices too,” she says. “Everything I’ve done had to happen to lead me here.”
During the last 10 years, she has provided support in the form of legal counsel, medical assistance, educational services, rent support and gift cards, to those in need.
“We have no waiting list,” she says. “We provide immediate assistance.”
Through these services, Ali gives victims the chance to “start over” and rebuild their lives.
“It’s amazing how resilient they are with just a little love and support,” she says.
Ali runs No More Tears with rotating help from two to three student volunteers. They schedule shifts throughout the day and night to ensure no call goes unanswered. On average, the organization rescues 20 victims per month.
“We’re always able to help victims,” she says. “But funding continues to be a problem. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because it’s not a sexy topic.”
As No More Tears enters a new decade, Ali hopes to build a network of resources for victims across the country.
“I’ve been getting calls from all over like Maryland, New Jersey and even India,” she says. “All I know is, running No More Tears is the most therapeutic thing I can do in my life. It’s the most gratifying thing in the world.”