Survivor Story: Part 1 | Part 2
Assalamu Alaikum (may peace be with you).
I am a survivor, and this is my story.
I am a British born Muslim woman, a daughter, sister and a mother to a beautiful girl. I was born to a family of 7 children, Alhamdulillah. I was taught from a young age the value of life through Islam and society. My father was a factory worker and my mother was a house wife. During my childhood I never saw violence in my family; my father respected my mother a lot, and was a support to her.
However circumstances were so, that my family had promised to my uncle back home in Bangladesh, that one of us siblings would marry one of my uncle’s son or daughter. I had turned 16 and the promise did not materialise through my elder siblings and so it came down to me to uphold this promise to their youngest son (this was my first cousin). I was not as strong as my sisters, so I agreed to the marriage, in hope that my family will always support me. I stress that I was not forced to marry him; in fact it was my decision.
We married in the spring of 2004, in Bangladesh. He was much older than me, 9 years to be precise. I fell in love with him straight away; he was sweet, charming and took good care of me. Religion was important to me and he respected that; he would pray with me and respected my needs. For me I had struck gold. I lived in Bangladesh with him for 3 months, then travelled back to London were I would apply for his residence to later join me. We continued a good relationship, via letters and phone calls for 11 months which seemed like a life time for me.
He joined me in London finally in July 2005. Things were still very good in our relationship. Or so I thought. There were many nights were we would converse about general things and he would always tell me how I am a good wife to him. He also told me that I will enter paradise if I continue to obey him and that my door to heaven is under his feet. I was entirely with him on all his opinions. To me, he was wise and knew a great deal more than me. This would later become his greatest weapon.
In August 2005 I fell pregnant. In the meantime, we had been so far living with my parents in their home. My father became poorly and passed away when I was 3 months into my pregnancy. By this time our relationship had its first test. Companionship: he failed to comfort me at the time of my father’s death. While I wept he would pressure me to uphold my ‘wifely duties’. It became tough for me and we fell into an argument. We both yelled but made up soon after.
He started to work and earned very little. I had a stable job and earned good money. We were supporting his family back home and my mother supported us here. But when I was 6 months into my pregnancy, I started to save for my baby. Little did I know this would change my life completely. For 3 months I saved half of everything I had earned. He would ask me why I was doing this, to which I would say, it was for our baby. But he was angry, he said that is what child benefit was for! This was the turning point for us, from then on we would constantly argue over money. How could I have thought about supporting his family whilst I was worried about supporting mine?
One such night, he came home and by then I was 7 months into my pregnancy. I waited up for him as I usually would and we spoke about the costs of the week. He asked me for some money to send to his family, this turned into an argument. I said I wasn’t going to stand for his behaviour, but he got angry and insulted me with foul words and mental abuse. I felt terrible and pushed him away. I called him ‘a stupid man’. He slapped me across the face. This was for me the biggest shock. I instantly reacted and shoved him; it became very physical which ended with me being flung by the arms across the room and landing flat on the floor.
The baby stopped moving and I became worried. I asked him to take me to the hospital but he left for work. He begged for my forgiveness straight away, said it was ‘spur of the moment’ and it would never happen again. My family didn’t notice as no one was home. I suffered pain and visited the hospital eventually but did not report anything. ‘I fell’ was the answer I gave. I cringed as I thought of all the clichés. I knew this was wrong but he begged me for forgiveness, how could I not pardon him? It was a one off incident after all, and I did shout at him too.
Little did I know this was the beginning to a terror only fate could let me live through. For the next 3 months he treated me well and our daughter was born, he helped me take care of our child. My mother moved out to live with my sister and we now lived alone.
My daughter was one month old when he came home from work one day. We spoke about the shopping I had done; it had cost more than our weekly budget. This was always bad news to him. He said I would no longer need to do the shopping for the baby nor the house. He will take care of everything, as long as I hand over all the money to him. I refused. This turned into an argument. He said he was tired of working and not getting any respect, but I cooked, cleaned, took care of him and kept orderly with him as he wished.
I was afraid my family would find out and ask him to leave. I loved him. And knew one day he will love me the same. The same night I lay next to our child, he started to mock me telling me that I was turning fat, that I am not like the women in Bangladesh and I am not ready for motherhood. To which I reacted, saying neither are you like a man of a household. This angered him and as I lay he held a pillow over me, I gave him a fight too, but then he over took me.
Gasping for air I passed out…