Jordan News | Latest News from Jordan, MENA
October 21 2021 8:26 PM ˚

Two women recount harrowing tales of abuse

part 2

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(Photo: Shutterstock)
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AMMAN — Last week we introduced domestic violence, how it is misunderstood, and its consequences. This week we tell the stories of two domestic violence survivors, real-life experiences from women living in Jordan.اضافة اعلان

As experts mentioned in last week’s article, abuse is a cycle, and no one is safe from it, and the cycle repeats itself.

The following may be distressing for some readers.

“No one is safe from domestic violence. It’s an issue that strikes the community at all levels,” said Dr Abdallah Abu Adas, a consultant psychiatrist.

Yusra

Yusra is a proud 43-year-old woman and a mother of five. She’s a survivor who said she decided not to carry the shame of the abuse she suffered.

When she was 23, Yusra got married to a man who came from a poorer background. What started sweet and hopeful turned dark very quickly. She lived in isolation and under strict control
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She tried to support her husband by following him to live abroad, leaving everyone and everything she knew.

Abuse comes in four stages, and before the physical abuse, Yusra experienced ongoing mental and emotional abuse. “Marginalization, rejection, being told ‘who do you think you are’, and financial control were there throughout all my years of marriage,” Yusra recounted. “The cycle of abuse went on for a decade, it started in 2009 and ended in 2019.”

The choice was hard, to stay for her kids and suffer humiliation or leave. “After marriage, I was broken and lost my pride and dignity in order to keep my kids, who themselves couldn’t take it anymore because he abused us all,” Yusra said.

She said that she and her five children were subjected to abuse by her husband. However, each of them downplayed the situation to the other. “I used to tell them that ‘I’m holding on and being patient for you’, and they would tell me ‘mom, we’re feeling devastated for you’,” Yusra said.

But, the situation never changed, it only became worse. Following are the graphic details that Yusra told us.

Yusra and her children were often beaten by her husband. “He used a 10-meter long electric wire to beat us up with; he would fold it four times and whip us with it,” Yusra said. That was his favorite weapon of choice, and it was used against most of them and at the same time, she said.

“My eldest son was doing his homework using his mobile phone; my husband accused him of cheating and whipped him on his back and legs until they turned red. He then went to the girls and asked them why their room was messy and then he whipped them,” Yusra said.

She went on: “He then went to our son, who was in kindergarten, and demanded he redo his homework. Then he called for our youngest son, asked him why his toys were strewn all around, and slapped him on the hands,” she said sobbing.

Yusra also said that she was abused emotionally and physically by his family.
However, she did eventually seek help.

“I started therapy and they asked me what my boundaries were. I asked ‘Am I allowed to have boundaries? Aren’t I supposed to take it all to preserve my home?’” Yusra said.

However, in March 2019, her husband started accusing her of cheating on him after claiming that “one of her new friends told him”.

He ordered Yusra to go to the UAE with their youngest son, where he abducted her, stole her passport and all her identification documents, severely beat her, and left her alone in her hotel bedroom.

After a few days, Yusra said that her family managed to find her, and with the help of the Jordanian embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they managed to convince her husband to return her passport so she could return to Jordan.

However, when she arrived, she found out that her children had run away from home and stayed at the Family Protection Unit because of their father and his family. Yusra sought the help of the Queen Rania Jordan River Foundation, following the advice of the Family Protection Unit. 

Eventually, Yusra filed for divorce and left her husband and took her kids with her.

Yusra’s message to abuse survivors and society at large: “Stop the abuse from the first slap. It’s easier to wait until the last one, because at the beginning you still have the strength to fight, but as time passes, you might be dead, if not physically then emotionally. ... Protect yourself first so you can protect and help others.”

Sameera

Sameera, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, is another survivor of spousal abuse. She told Jordan News her story.

Sameera, a mother to five children, is a kindergarten teacher.

Despite an accomplished career and expertise on women’s empowerment and child development, she couldn’t escape her abuser due to financial and societal pressures. When asked to tell us her story, she was hesitant.

“I don’t want to disclose my name in your article because my husband might forbid me from leaving the house. I don’t want to throw away years of work away, and if our families heard that I was talking about what I faced, things might escalate,” Sameera said anxiously.

She married young and did not complete her education, which contributed to her partial dependence on her abuser. Sameera was forced by her mother to get married to a man who more than 10 years her senior and was responsible for his whole family.

“Honestly, deep inside, I disapproved of getting married,” Sameera said, adding that when her mother pushed her to drop out and get married, she wondered if she was a “burden”. “So I agreed,” she said, attributing the decision to her youth.

After marriage, Sameera’s life changed: She got pregnant, and her husband’s attitude changed from friendly and respectful to oppressive and controlling. She said her mother-in-law was pushing her husband to keep his wife under his complete control.

“My mother-in-law took control of our lives from the beginning. I discovered that my husband couldn’t say anything to his mother or family no matter what the situation was,” Sameera said.

Sameera also lived with her husband in the Gulf, but when they moved in with their in-laws upon returning to Jordan, things started to escalate.

She began attending classes at an NGO, to be able to do something outside of her oppressive environment. That was when she realized that she needed to take action. She realized that being oppressed and physically and mentally abused was not okay.

Between 2010 and 2011, she only took classes and workshops. However, her situation deteriorated when her mother-in-law kicked her and her children out of the house. “I ... sought the help of a lawyer. The center at first secured a job for me. I told them my husband wasn’t cooperative; that he neither wanted to divorce me nor take me back home,” Sameera said.

Her father pushed her to find a “paid” lawyer, believing it was better for her. Furthermore, he wanted her to leave her children, which she refused to do.

She filed for divorce after years of abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, her lawyer was unable to facilitate the process and her father did not care, so she eventually got a low-paying job and an apartment for her and her children.

“I want to be independent from him and his family, I didn’t want him to be in my life at all, to only be able to see my children in court,” Sameera said. “My weak point was my children — it was for them I worked hard and built a home,” she added.

Their unstable living arrangements — moving often — caused her children anxiety, she said.

“My eldest daughter wanted to throw herself off the balcony when my father told me to ‘abandon my children and come back alone’,” Sameera said. It was this that drove her to return to her husband, but things only went from bad to worse; her husband abused her more, neglected her more, and lied to her more. 

“He would break things on me. He became worse than before, and for the slightest thing he would yell to let his family hear him. I used to avoid him,” she said.

“I didn’t know what to do. Finally, I went to an imam because he broke his shaver on my head. Once my father knew that my husband had beaten me, he broke a stick on me, and said that I deserved it for going back to him,” she said.

Sameera did not have a solution, but kept searching for one. Taking classes about women’s empowerment helped to boost her confidence.

She was not able to divorce her husband. She would not be able to afford to leave him or support her five children, and she would not get support from her family, she said. Unable to leave, she is still living with her abuser.

Sameera’s message to other abused women, advice she could not follow herself, is that “they should not stay in the environment they’re in, they can live the life they want”.

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