In my part of world, a princess never accidentally runs into her prince. It’s the king, the proud and loving father who looks all over the kingdom and beyond to find a perfect suitor for her little princess.
I grew up dreaming about butterflies, unicorns and a prince charming that would come riding on his white horse to take me to his palace. But this is no happily ever after tale.
At seventeen, my dad arranged my marriage with the son of his good friend. His name was Zain. He was 25, educated, handsome – in fact, everything I could ask for. But there was a surprise in store for me, a surprising journey that I wish no girl ever has to go through. The night after the nikkah, my prince charming tore the false façade off his face to reveal the true animal he really was.
I remember how excited I was that night; I waited for him in eager anticipation with millions of butterflies fluttering in my stomach. I kept fixing my hair and my dress; I wanted to look perfect for him. I waited and waited for his return, my fantasies taking me to faraway places, while still impatiently thinking about how I couldn’t wait to start my new life.
It was at 3 that he returned. I could sense something was wrong. Maybe it was his eyes – cruel, cold and calculating. I watched him, all the fond dreams returning. I felt my heart would burst but when he came close and spoke, I could smell the alcohol in his breath.
That night when I expected him to tell me he loved me as much as I loved him, he started telling me how useless I was. He said I was ugly and no one wanted me. He pulled my hair and slapped me across my face. He threw me down the bed, ripped off my wedding dress and tried to strangle me. I was raped multiple times that night, and my cries for him to stop only made him more aggressive. He smacked me across the face with the back of his hand because I wasn’t enjoying it. I was punched, kicked, strangled, humiliated, raped, tied up and stabbed. He didn’t stop hurting me till he got tired and passed out; that seventeen year old girl didn’t know that way of being loved.
I never slept that night, I just cried like I had never cried before. The pain and the humiliation were unbearable. I was bruised all over.
I felt filthy, hurt and broken. Still hysterical, I called my father. He came over and was shocked beyond belief to see me in such a state. I sobbed and screamed, told him his little girl was hurt. I begged him to take me away from this hell. He cried with me, and promised that he’d make my husband pay.
With my husband of a night still in bed, my dad drove me home. Charges of rape and attempt to murder were pressed against him. Court proceedings were painful and I found that he was an alcoholic and mentally sick. His family thought that marriage would cure him of his flaws. But the only consequences were a divorce and public humiliation for both the families. I had nightmares after that for a long time. I used to wake up screaming and would strip myself down to wash out rigorously the feeling of filth that he had left on me.
That was me two years ago – I am a different story today. Day by day I take back a piece of myself and have grown stronger and happier than ever in the process.
It is a hard road to travel, it is not easy and I still have the odd bad day and have trouble even thinking about even getting into another relationship as I am scared.
But I have worked hard, and I am in IBA today. I have focused all my energies towards becoming an independent woman with a career and a life where she’d be respected and cared for. I also plan on working with organizations that work for women empowerment.
Almost 6 times as many women victimized by intimates (18%) as those victimized by strangers (3%) did not report their violent victimization to police because they feared reprisals from the offender.
(Ronet Bachman Ph.D., U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Violence Against Women: A National Crime Victimization Survey Report,” January 1994, p. 1.)