“Where do I begin to tell you my story, the sweet Love Story that turned bitter? The story of those lips who sang nothing but songs of my praises, the words, “wish I had met you earlier”, changed into curses and insults.
What hurts more is that it did not occur after years of marriage, but started soon after our marriage and slowly gradually. He cursed me for the first time perhaps after six months of marriage while I was driving his car. I stopped the car and before I could step out, he begged forgiveness like crazy and assured his eternal love to me and I continued to drive back home. Yes, in the start, he always wanted me to be in the driving seat, 2 years after our marriage, I was totally incompetent to drive even my own car, so he was always in the driving seat and I almost felt I had forgotten to drive.
“I don’t want you to work, because I love it when you open the door for me with a smile”. These words meant so powerful and full of love to me that the thought of job would not cross my mind again. But later this statement changed into, “What kind of job can you get, a receptionist, a secretary, that’s it?” I never could understand why my “soul-mate”, who promised to love me even after his death, would utter these condescending words to me!
It was all too uncomfortable and raised alarming signs for me but I kept making room for all his moods, he’s over protective, a little jealous because he loves me, may be its too early and he will gain trust as he gets to know me more.
“But he had shared everything about himself honestly with me. He told me about his alcohol and marijuana puffs and girlfriends. He admitted it was all wrong, and he made a promise to himself that he will quit all of this and that he wants to start a noble life with me. I did not want to be skeptical. I accepted him as an honest person trying to change for better. May be God chose me to help him?
Then slowly and gradually all my friends were lost because he made me change my phone number so many times that I lost touch with them and also to please him, I deleted all those numbers. Then came a time that I could not even share with anyone what I was going through, definitely not my family, didn’t want to hurt my years old mother and 80 years old father who is a heart patient.
Where did I go wrong, I would ask myself repeatedly? I changed myself completely to get his approval. What did I not do for my husband? I quit my friends (male or, class-fellows, acquaintances or neighbors), my family (even their phone calls would bother him so much that I had to hang up the phone). I had to smile because he said it can wrong message to the other person. I changed my dressing, my cooking, my hair style, my life style (from a lively, jolly, outgoing, smiling person, I became a quiet, home bound serene person). “Who did you call or must have chatted with your family on messenger where did you go today was a standard everyday question, even if my car wasn’t moved an inch from where it was parked. I was not supposed to keep any secret from my husband so he made me give him all my passwords of the email account, web-accounts, even my bank account online.
I was completely isolated. Then I became pregnant with my first child, the happiest feeling of my life. His abuse aggravated after pregnancy. His arguments, his alcohol consumption became more frequent, made me shred all my photos of traveling around the world, all those memories had to be deleted for he suspected that there may be some hidden persons/memories in those photographs. He made me throw all my past clothes, movies, cds, I kept doing it all as a dutiful wife for I wanted my husband to trust me.
I wanted him to know that I have no past to hang on to and I have nothing to hide. No matter how much I tried, I was never good enough. I went to Emergency Room three times during my pregnancy mostly after his intense arguments, fights, and third time; I was operated to save the child and my life, although I had no complication in my pregnancy.
Then came the financial abuse, he started using money out of my personal account without my knowledge or permission and confrontation brought nothing but fights, curses and insults to me. Now I was worried for my son to grow in the midst of these arguments, which were becoming more frequent.
I tried to talk to him, offered mediation through family, his, or even some Islamic marriage counseling. I did not want this marriage to fail. I did not want to give my child a broken family, but he never agreed to any consultation whatsoever.
I was left with a hard choice whether to stay in this relationship or be financially independent and give my child a better life, but I did not have the courage and I got pregnant again. Abuse continued and then I discovered he was cheating on my now. I was going to be the mother of a girl this time. “Divorce”? No, not me, I will give my best but not leave this relationship. I am a very strong woman, a psychologist, I understand that my husband has trouble dealing with his anger, and I can help him, I can bring him to a dialogue and finally he would be able recognize the problem and we can work it out. No, no, I was not going to live with the stigma of “Divorce”, for people will raise eyebrows on my daughter too, oh her mother got divorced, oh this girl was raised in a broken family, all these thoughts would weigh me even down.
I will always remain indebted to the nurse at my OB/Gyn clinic who recognized that I was dealing with some deep-rooted sadness and the social worker, who after a few sessions provided me with the contact number of Domestic Harmony Foundation. Approached DHF mainly asking for couple therapy, marriage counseling through a Muslim female counselor, because I wanted to give my utmost effort to make this relationship work.
I was walking on egg-shell all the time that anything I say or do may annoy him. His threats made me secluded at home. His cursing and insults had become so frequent that I felt most women on the earth. I felt so shameless that I am being insulted and cursed at day and night with worst possible words and I did not have the courage to stand for myself or even to. There was nothing I could do except serving him, and his older kids with hot meals, cleaning up after them, taking care of my two infants to my room dead tired at night as a worthless piece of crap.
Coming to DHF for support group was like having fresh air to breathe in. Listening to others, I realized I was not alone, and the most important thing I learnt through these support groups and counseling sessions with some volunteer counselors here, was that “This is Domestic Violence, that I have been going through all along, disconnecting me from all my friends, my family, job, social networks, financial deprivation, this is abuse!, I did not have a blue eye, or bruises on my body, broken bones, but I had lost my confidence, my self-esteem shattered to pieces, my betrayed. Yes, finally I was able to say, this is not the life I aspired, this is not the love I dreamt of. Love should not hurt! Thanks to DHF team!
Even though DHF resources were limited and they could not provide me regular counseling but they made sure that I was connected to some other reliable resources, and that I was not left alone at any point. Even when I was physically secluded because of my husband’s threats to kill me if I approached the police or court, DHF coordinator Jasia, stayed in regular contact with me my safety, informing me of all the possible help available to me for myself and my kids. This assurance enabled me to keep my sanity and be prepared to protect myself and my children if I sensed any.
Acknowledging the domestic violence, I was yet not willing to leave my husband. I kept praying to Allah to help me, to guide me choose what is right for me and my kids. I finally broke the silence and told my parents.
I had no choice but to confess after he had disrespected them, cursed me and hit me in front of them and finally announced the “First Divorce” at the Airport. He came back, emptied the bank account and I could only see him doing that for I did not want to stop him and get the remaining two “divorces”. I still wanted to save my marriage. Then he says to me, “I will never divorce you … I will keep you in this relationship and humiliate you to the worst you could never imagine”. I looked at his mother as he said those words and she said, “if you can’t keep your man in love with you, it is basically your fault”.
After the display of this aggression, now he told me point blank, “women like you who approach these white American cops and go to the court to humiliate our culture meet the same fate as the wife of Muzammil Hussain. You ever think of calling the cops, remember, I will get to you first before they get to me”.
I, now, knew that in his mind the so called love-marriage was over and that he can really hurt me! Yet, the final blow was when he started using my kids to curse at me and cursing them directly. Who can curse his 2 and half years old son or his one year old daughter? And WHAT NEXT was the question that made me put my foot down. Now I knew it is my children and myself, that I have to save and not this broken, troubled and dysfunctional marriage. I knew that if I let my children live under this constant abuse, they will continue this cycle somehow, just like my husband continued his father’s tradition of abusing his mother, which he confessed to hate but today he is doing just the same.
Now, he is doing what any abuser can do, cut all financial support, hire an expensive lawyer and threatening to take the kids away from me, trying to prove me a psycho, abusive and incapable mother and using my kids’ visitation to hurt me. But I have complete faith in my Creator, who gave me life, and two beautiful children and the strength to go on, and I face every day with new courage because I have full faith in Allah and HE has provided me with such friends that I met at DHF and help and resources that with His mercy, in sha’ Allah, I am positive that my children and I would live a better life, an abuse free life, ameen!