Following the story about Faryal Khan speaking out about the treatment she has and continues face from her in-law’s I was inspired to share my story to help raise awareness and show that this happens all too often.
He caught my eye at a wedding and things started out like a fairy tale. He was the most charming man I had met- he was so caring, wanted to know of all my problems, gave me reassurances to confide in him- my deepest troubles, failures in past relationships, my insecurities and intimate details about myself and my family. I felt like this is what I was waiting for all my life, but little did I know that my dreams of marriage, a happy home with a man who loves me “more than his own family and friends”, a man I wanted to have kids with- would all turn into my worst nightmare!
Leading up to our wedding, I used all my savings and splashed out on a lavish wedding because this was his dream and I wanted to make him happy, a few days later, we were on our honeymoon and he said he was going to change his mobile number and wanted mine to be changed because it was a new start. During our honeymoon he told me he wanted me to resign from my job there and then because he wanted me to work for “his company” when he decides to open it. Every instruction by him always seemed to have valid reasoning so I never dreamt of questioning him.
From the moment we got back home, I noticed my mother in law’s attitude change completely towards me, no longer was there praise and adoration for her new daughter-in -law, as was played out in front of my family members and instead there was hate and resentment. She made it clear that “my son will always love his mother first; a wife is nothing in comparison”.
As weeks went by, it became my duty to cook for the family of 6, fresh breakfasts, lunches and dinners, make shopping lists ready for whenever I would be taken accompanied by a family member, wash everyone’s clothes (I even learnt whose underwear belonged to whom). Over time, my mother in law became more and more picky about things that didn’t exist such as creases on the bed sheets or apparent splashes of water around the kitchen sink and when I would go to clean up after apologising to her, I would find that it was spotless. She deliberately set standards impossible to achieve and then fill my husband’s ear about how my mother never taught me how to be a good house wife, the rest of the family just watched or joined in. Eventually I would get hit for tasks incomplete or not having been completed to the standard they expected.
My phone and bank card was taken away from me, passwords were changed on my social media accounts, laptop and iPad so none of these were of use to me anymore. It was made very clear to me very early on in my marriage that because did not bring more dowry, they needed to punish me, I was refused access to friends or family, I wasn’t allowed to see my niece when she was born, or go to my grandmother’s funeral when she passed away- which I still hate myself for til this day.
Life became a monotonous realm of fear, waking up with a list of chores to complete from 6am until 2am. I would pray that they would wake up in a good mood because if they were in a bad mood, even if there was perfection surrounding them, I would be attacked- either for the way I looked, being a cheap bride, not being a good “cook” or for nothing at all. My mother in law would give me chores until the early hours whilst my husband would sleep and once I was locked out of our marital room so I slept outside the bathroom on a towel on the floor. My in-laws showed me that there was nothing I could do.
I wasn’t allowed to register with a GP because I was accused of potentially “sleeping” with him or her, or “snitching” on my in-laws. When we did go out, I was too scared to look up in public because I would be accused for “knowing” this guy, or be “checking him out”. Once we went to the cinema as a family and my husband pinched my upper arm really hard saying “you slut how dare you look at him with so much lust” to the actor on the screen, then he would deliberately give me the silent treatment and showed he was angry infront of his family- who then hurled abuse at me for “upsetting their son”. I could never win so what was the point in trying!
They became better and better at this game and I became weaker as the time went by. I was told to always smile at family gatherings, especially photos for their social media and if I did not, I would be beaten, such was their power to show the world what a ‘good’ family they were and to ensure no one would believe me if I dared to speak out . I accepted my life to be their forever slave – until the police started to come by, immediately they started to change, making fake promises, crying and begging me never to leave. I should have found the strength to say no but I wanted to believe them – even though deep down I knew it was all an act.
I eventually left the marital home but sadly things didn’t end there, they still won’t leave me alone by fabricating stories about my character to tarnish my reputation in my community – which is so difficult to ignore and like with Faryal Khan, publicly protest that I am a liar and even a ‘fallen’ woman!
They repeatedly come to me in my dreams making the trauma very real and difficult to move forward. I am trying to get back on track but I’m still no way near the finish line. After attempting to take my own life several times, I am seeing counsellors and psychiatrists to help with my fears and nightmares. I’ve got a long way to go- but I am grateful for having left that life as a forever slave living in constant fear.
My biggest support by my side has been my family, and the support I received from The Sharan Project- who believed me and without them both I wouldn’t be alive today.
We all need to stand together and call it out for what it is, Abuse. If you have been affected by any of the issues in my story, please do not suffer in silence contact The Sharan Project firstname.lastname@example.org