Suffering in the Shadows: A Personal Story of Domestic Violence

To all of our silent survivors, we are here for you.  There are many vocal domestic violence (DV) survivors, but we can’t forget those who are silently in the shadows taking it on all by themselves.

For 10 years, I silently suffered in a marriage that consisted of daily reminders of how incompetent I was and how I was never good enough.  Always being compared to his friend’s wives and always asked, “Why can’t you be more like so & so’s wife?”  The emotional and mental abuse made me feel that I was worthless and shattered my self-esteem.  I developed severe anxiety and depression, I was always second guessing myself in any decision, and I hated the way I looked.  My self-confidence was at a -1000 and I absolutely hated myself for being me.  I was isolated with very few friends and was never allowed to speak of my relationship with my husband to anyone including my relatives, or divorce would follow.

By the age of 20, I had 4 children all under the age of 3.  There were so many times that I thought about leaving, but those thoughts quickly left my mind and were replaced with thoughts of my worthlessness and how no one would want “damaged goods” as I was always told on the regular. And since he prevented me from finishing my college education, I was reminded on how I would never be able to support myself with 4 kids because he would never pay child support and I had no close family to help.

Physical abuse ensued shortly after and I had no familial support, since I was ordered to keep my distance.  After about 5 years into my marriage, I was at the end of my rope. There weren’t many resources available to me back then, and I was reminded on a daily basis that I literally had nowhere to go, especially with 4 small children. What other option did I have? Stay so my children had a place to live and food to eat, or leave and become homeless? So I just stayed.

After that, I just tried my best to keep my children happy and my family together.  In 2010, he decided that he wanted me to move overseas to his country with my children and he would follow shortly thereafter.  Of course, I did what was expected of me and moved to his home country where his family basically treated me as their maid.  He delayed his trip over for 6 months and I later found out he had taken a 2nd wife while I was living with his family overseas.  He finally traveled to his country to join us and the physical violence became worse.  I was at my wits end.  I didn’t want my children, especially my daughters, to think that this was how a marriage or relationship was supposed to work. I didn’t want my sons to think that they could treat their future wives like this.

In a country that wasn’t even my own, not knowing the language and not knowing anyone, I took it upon myself to find work at an American school and made a close friend who had an almost identical story.  She is the one that that helped me get out of his house with my children and stand on my own two feet.  I quickly learned the language, made my own money, paid all of my bills, took care of my children and all to his dismay, I flourished. Without all of the daily reminders of how horrible I was, I actually started to relax a little and enjoy my life. Two months after I left his house, he finally divorced me and told me to go back to my country (USA) and that the children would stay with him in the middle east.  I refused.  I could never abandon my children like that. He took them from me and I saw them only on weekends for the next 3 years. I spent those last 3 years in his country waiting for a miracle.  He held onto their passports and when a civil war broke out, I was able to get them and myself safely evacuated with the help of the US Embassy.  Now my children see a happy mom.  Not a mom that is always crying in her room, or scared, or as anxious as before.  They see someone who started to love herself and take care of her needs just like she does for everyone else.  They are now learning that relationships aren’t supposed to tear you down and make you feel worthless. Alhumdulillah.

I’ve kept my story silent for almost 17 years.  I am sharing it today just to show those that are silently suffering that you are not alone.  I know what you are going through. You are strong, smart, beautiful, and full of worth. You are enough. You will get through this and with the resources now available and the national conversation of raising awareness on DV, I hope that we will one day erase those 2 words out of our vocabulary.  I am with ICNA Relief and I will wear purple for all of our survivors and victims who need support on #WearPurpleDay.  Let’s #DiscontinueDV and stand together for all of those who need support including those suffering in the shadows.

To donate to our Domestic Violence Awareness cause, please visit www.icnarelief.org/solaceforoursisters.

Contributor:  Jasmine Hasni