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I don’t know how to tell my story as I truly don’t know how to start, but I will try my best to give my account from what I can remember, because when you find yourself a survivor of domestic abuse, eighteen years of healing later you find yourself letting go of the past to such an extent that memories remain but not as harsh on the memory as when it happened. I will begin.
I was eighteen years old when I married my ex husband, a man seven years older than me and although we were from the same culture, the difference was very apparent. My reluctance to marry was very evident to begin with but I gave in after putting up with the most immense emotional blackmail a young woman could ever go through, the extent of which I would describe as incredibly extreme. When an aunty won’t even allow you to go to the toilet without knocking on the door asking ‘Are you going to marry him?’ for the sake of peace, I accepted but put certain conditions forward, all of which were ignored the moment I stepped off the plane.
I was told that this relative was very sweet and hard-working and that was that. A few days I was allowed to chat with him and that was that.
My wedding day came and I can only describe it as being stuck in the middle of a typhoon, with everything going on around me and not being able to digest any of it properly. I had no control whatsoever and so I let it all happen. And before I knew it, I was married.
Within a week, I was being mentally and verbally abused and I knew the compatibility wasn’t there. A lot of ‘do this’ and ‘you’re not allowed to speak with this person and that’s that or else’. I saw what his brother had done to his new bride a week into married life, the pair being married at the same time as us, and the black eyes and bruises I saw on her head gave me enough of an indication of what was coming my way. I regretted what I had done but couldn’t say anything as I was a young woman in a village thousands of miles away from home with absolutely no confidence to say I wanted out and so I put up with the situation until I came back to the UK. That was when I was going to make sure this marriage would be finished before it even had chance to be started.
I got back to the UK and told my parents I wanted out, but the advices and fear of ‘What will people say’ kept being forced upon me. I told my husband I knew I had made a massive mistake but hearing the tears of a man were another burden I was forced to carry. I worked until my husband joined me.
A month later, I found out I was pregnant and I didn’t know how to feel. There was some resentment that now I would have to make this work for the sake of the child I was carrying. My marriage to this man lasted only fifteen months but what I didn’t know was that during my pregnancy and my married life, this one man would put me through the most unbelievable abuse, what should have been a peaceful and amazing experience turned into thoughts running through my mind everyday of terminating my child. A totally deplorable act but the desperation I felt to try and get myself out of a situation that nobody except me was experiencing, well these were the desperate thoughts that crossed my mind.
My husband began to assert his authority on me due to things not working out for him. Whether it was work related or having issues with family, I would be on the receiving end of what started off as verbal and mental abuse. He wouldn’t speak with me for weeks on end, left me and came back to me numerous times, would call me and my family the most disgusting names, totally uncalled for and I remained silent. I was pregnant and having a very testing pregnancy and for somebody to physically stand in front of me narrating the fact he was about to commit suicide with tablets in hand playing the whole thing out, I honestly don’t know which sane person would do such a disgusting act for attention. The fact that I was crying over him ‘dying’ in front of me, only to be then told ‘I only do these things to test you’, these incidents went on throughout my pregnancy. This is just a taste of what I was to be put through and the most despicable of physical abuse was yet to come.