Searching for My Dignity

My name is M.T., I live in a traditional neighborhood, and I am 24 years old. I was born into a simple family; not very educated. My father is a simple man, not educated, and has a weak character to the point where he lets his younger brother control every detail of his and his family’s lives. My mother is a traditional woman, she follows everything her husband says, has no opinion or influence, and she lives day by day; each one the same as the one before it. As for my brothers, they’re not much better than my father; they only let out their energy at home, by controlling their mother and their sisters. Even the public school that I went to, and was supposed to be the place that I escape the darkness in and into the light, wasn’t at all that place.

I continuously thought about how I will leave this miserable situation. Is this my fate? Or do I have to live day by day like my mother does? I stayed in this state until I reached the 11th grade, when I was approached for a traditional marriage; a groom I have never seen before, and I had no idea how I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with him. All my father cared about was “sutra” for his daughters (preserving a girl’s honor by marrying her off), so he agreed without any hesitation.

I was confused about my parents’ decision to marry me off to that groom, but I convinced myself that they are older than me and know what is best for me. And so we got engaged, but the surprise was that the wedding day was set for 1o days after the engagement, and without me having met my husband yet. I got married at the appointed time, and I was optimistic that my wedding day would be a turning point in my life for the better, but this feeling didn’t last for long. My rosy dreams faded the morning my mother-in-law knocked violently on my door and yelled at me to get out of bed and follow her. Once I did she proceeded to take out all the kitchen utensils, throw them on the floor, and said, “Clean all of these quickly, and then clean and polish the entire house. These will be your daily chores.” I obeyed with pain in my heart that only increased when her son woke up, and I found him complacent with his mother. He feared her and didn’t protest about how she verbally and morally disrespected me. She even encouraged him to beat me, and he would comply for her sake. She even forbade me from owning a cell phone out of fear that I would call my parents and tell them about my situation. Although even if I tell them, they wouldn’t have done anything to help. And so I stayed like this for about two and half months.

One day I was feeling very tired, my mother-in-law noticed that so she took me to the doctor’s. It turned out that I was pregnant; she seemed happy, and so was I. I felt that this pregnancy would change the way that she treats me. She asked me not to tell my husband so we can surprise him, but when we got home and I was resting on my bed my husband arrived, and he started arguing with me just for the sake of creating a problem. He ended up beating me until I had a miscarriage.

Three days after that incident, my husband threw me out of the house without any mercy, so I asked him for money for transportation but he wouldn’t give me any, he didn’t even allow me to call my parents. I had to make do with 10 JDs that I had kept since my wedding day, and I went out to the street, crying and not knowing which way to go. I stopped a taxi and I asked the driver to take me to my parents’ house, he felt sorry for me and tried to find the way to my parents’ house; as I didn’t know which way to go. At the end he managed to drop me off, but they didn’t welcome me warmly. I stayed there for about 3 months, until my husband decided to take me back. My father agreed right away and led me to that house like he was leading a sheep, without saying a word to my husband or convey that he is upset. On the contrary, my husband now knew that my parents don’t care about me, and I can’t even go to them if he abuses me.

This time, my husband and his mother didn’t mind me staying in the basement, but my mother-in-law wouldn’t give me any furniture and only provided me with two mattresses, a broken television, and a small rug. I didn’t care about all this because my mother and sisters gathered some used items from their houses and sent them to me. However, my husband wouldn’t give me any food, or even give me any essentials that I needed. He did all of this so I will beg him to go back to living like a slave for his mother and his sick father. I tried to stay alive with the little food that I had left until it ran out, and after staying with no food for two whole days, my sister-in-law came to check on me. She was surprised to find me locked in the basement without any food or heating, and so she got me some food and gave it to me through the window. When my husband found out he beat me and threatened to divorce me. My sister-in-law was very sympathetic towards me, and she helped me sneak out of the house, then she invited someone to try and mediate between my husband’s family and myself to end all the problems. However, as soon as the mediator left the house, my husband threw me out by saying “we don’t need a wife who tells the secrets of her house.” My brother heard of what happened so he came to take me home, but I was accompanied with the stigma surrounding a divorced woman in my society.

I had to live at my uncle’s house in another governorate until I get better, but things got worse when I was diagnosed with an illness that required immediate surgery. But this was postponed because of my uncle who also disrespected me and treated me like a prisoner. He wouldn’t let me leave my room, and he beat me and treated me badly for the duration of the 3 months that I was there. Finally, my brother came and took me back to my parents’ house, but this time I returned in a very bad state. I was barely able to speak, and became very isolated and depressed all the time. I remained like this until a new office opened in front of our house, and my sisters tried to convince me to go work there as a cleaner; this way I can help myself and help my family with some income. It would also give me a breather away from the troubling atmosphere in my family. I agreed, and so I started working in that office, and there I found a haven for comfort, and I slowly started to deal with more and more people. This made me start comparing between dealing with educated and cultured people, and those who are not, and I decided to learn from those who have more experience in life as much as I can. Due to my new job, I started feeling like a productive person in my community, and for the first time in my life I find myself determined to go on with my life and my decisions without submitting to anyone else. I am full of hope that God opened this road for me to lift my worries and open doors for me so that I can live a future with the dignity that I deserve.

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Filed under General, Health, Mobility, Shelter, Work

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