I got married last year; within nine months of marriage I started suffering serious depression including feeling suicidal and one day my husband left me at my parents doorstep saying I needed a break. He never contacted me again, never responded to my calls or messages. He started telling his family that our marriage was over without even telling me. He completely abandoned me when I was at the lowest point in my life.
I was devastated at the time and felt that it was somehow my fault. However, in the weeks that followed, I opened up to my family and my therapist about my husbands behaviour whilst we were married. It became apparent that during our marriage I had been subjected to emotional, physical, financial and sexual abuse which I had learnt to become passive to.
Emotional abuse is also known as psychological abuse and often leads to depression and suicidal feelings. As Domestic Violence London explains: ?Its aim is to chip away at the confidence and independence of victims with the intention of making her compliant and limiting her ability to leave. I wish I had known about emotional abuse before I got married because then I might have been able to recognise what was happening to me. Emotional abuse includes verbal abuse such as yelling, name-calling, blaming and shaming. Isolation, intimidation, threats of violence and controlling behaviour.
I was victim to all of these things. My husband would say I love you bandari, call me a majj (cow) and call me dipsh*t. He would tell me to shut up in front of other family members, saying my opinion doesnt count and that no one cares for what I have to say. As my depression worsened he started to withdraw affection from me, leaving me crying in the bedroom whilst he watched TV downstairs. I would ask him to hug me but he refused. He used to say you dont fear me. I was told off for speaking to a man in his presence and that if hes around I do not need to speak to other men directly.
I was never accepted as part of my marital family; I was never given a house key and expected to wait outside the house in the cold until my in laws returned home. When I went to my in-laws begging for a chance after they left me, my father-in-law told me I was beyond help, people like me never get better and that he?s made his final decision and makes no U-turns. I was pleading with them for help, to support me through counselling to help my depression. Practically on my knees crying and begging them for a chance but no one helped me. At this stage I was consciously unaware I had been abused and thought it was all my fault.
The abuse started on the flight en-route to our honeymoon, when he began criticising me, saying that my hair stank. This became typical of his behaviour. He would constantly criticise me to crush my confidence. He made me feel like I was a child, that I couldnt do anything, right. When we were out in public, he would control my every move for example, telling me to walk straight, not drag my feet and not step where it was wet. He also made derogatory remarks about my weight even though I shrank to a size 6 whilst we were married. If my stomach stuck out he would tuck it in with his hand and squeeze my nose to make it look smaller.
His parents and cousin sister would also regularly criticise me – further breaking down my confidence. My father in law had asked me to empty all my bank accounts, so he could buy another property. To complicate the situation, my husband also suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and I was expected to follow his OCD rituals including: showering twice a day, being recalled into bathroom if towel wasnt perfectly straight, must flick my toothbrush three times and follow a specific ritual for taking off shoes. I was not allowed to put my handbag on the bed; plug when taken out of the socket must be placed on the carpet in specific way. Had to follow rules about which lights can be on and grocery shopping bags must be folded in a certain way. He wouldn’t let me hold onto train or escalator side bars or sit on the train seats. He would make me get off the train at every stop on the way home. I was expected to wash my feet when we come from people houses and from the gurdwara. I was not allowed to pull down the sun visor or the car windows without his permission.
Another aspect of the abuse was that my husband exerted extensive control over my life. He wouldn’t allow me to drive or book annual leave off work without his permission. He would regularly read my phone messages, banned me from making cash withdrawals and even set up a new email address for me, registered my oyster card and set up online banking then kept all of the passwords.
Physical and sexual abuse
My husband would constantly ogle other women and make lewd comments about them. He would ask me to invite women from work home for a threesome and graphically describe what he would to do them. He regularly watched porn in front of me. At times, the abuse became physical. He would slap me in the bedroom for his own entertainment, hitting me with a belt on my leg, punching me in the stomach on the train when he thought I may be pregnant, regularly holding me by the arm like a prisoner in public and dragging me by my legs during intimate relations. As my depression deepened, the mental stress was affecting my sleep and I would often wake up crying or subconsciously grinding my teeth whilst sleeping. My husband would then forcefully grab my jaw to wake me up so I would stop this, as it was disturbing his sleep.
I wanted to share my story with you; I never want anyone to go through what I did and be able to recognise the signs much earlier on. I was manipulated in such a way that I couldn’t recognise his behaviour as abuse. I thought he loved me, because he would say hes protecting me and making me a better person and I naively fell for it. I spent most of the nine months crying myself to sleep, crying in the shower or in the disabled toilets at work.
My advice would be if it feels wrong it’s wrong. Sometimes without knowing our confidence and self-esteem is shattered and we become desperate for love. Allowing ourselves to be mistreated by others in the hope for love and acceptance in return. Never let it get this far, if someone is constantly putting you down don’t let them, eventually they will break you so far you won’t know what’s happening to you. Speak to someone like Sikh Helpline, sometimes we don’t know what’s happening to us and need someone from the outside to spell it out for us. It’s all confidential and could be the answer to getting saved before it’s too late.
Sikh Helpline has been very helpful and supportive, I’ve turned to sikhi and keeping faith in Waheguru, this is helping me get through this difficult time. By a DV victim
Talking to the Sikh Helpline can help to give you a better understanding of the problem and how to best deal with it. We can help by supporting and getting you in touch with the right agencies. The Sikh Helpline is here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help and you can contact us anytime.