Ask Marwa: Surviving an Abusive Marriage

Date posted: August 31, 2015


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Published in Identity Magazine – August 2015

Hi Marwa,

I'm not good at writing or talking about myself, I don't know how to express myself and I have no idea from where to start. I used to be very successful educationally, I haven't studied what I wanted because my dad didn't approve. Although I was surrounded by male peers and had a lot of friends in my life, I never had any love experience before marriage, I never had a boyfriend. I grew up hating males because although my dad is considered open minded, he is still sexist. Everyone sees me perfect and strong with a very strong character although when you read on you'll find out that how I acted was the total opposite of that!

I got married in an arranged marriage to a man that I knew nothing about back then except for that his one of the known families in the business field, I refused him at first but he kept chasing me and he was very insisting until I agreed and we got engaged for a year and a half where we broke four times during this time and it was one of the worst periods of my life. After an extremely luxurious wedding we ended up living in a furnished rented apartment even though he could've bought an apartment and that's when I discovered that he was actually a tycoon (filthy rich) not only rich!! I was still a student when we got married because he insisted that we get married too fast and couldn't wait.

These were by far my worst days ever. He wouldn't come near me and he wouldn't have sex with me, he kept pretending that he's trying and he's failing and that he is incapable of having sexual intercourse. I tried looking for my mum for help, however, all she did was make fun of me and him. Then, I went to a doctor with his company to lose my virginity with a surgery and both of us knew that this was definitely wrong. I tried several times with him to actually succeed at having sex, although I went through a lot of pain, refusal and aggressiveness from his side. Even my two children were a result of incomplete sex but I was my most fertile period. Since then I gave up on sex, this human extinct that god has created every human with and the one that I didn’t get the chance to try.

The marriage lasted 11 years without me knowing anything about him. I don't know whether he's a good person or a bad one. He keeps on flirting with me all the time especially infront of people, however, he crashes my dreams and hopes. Although he's very stingy he gets me a lot of gifts, he once got me a palace. I'm working like a machine at home, his requests ever ends; laundry, food… etc. I haven't even used to get enough sleep. I reached a point where I stopped feeling at all, I stopped feeling happiness nor sadness. I got sick a lot and my health deteriorated. That was besides the struggles that I constantly had with his family. My relationship with god was the normal kind of relationship, I prayed, fasted and asked god to cure my from the sickness I had, but it was never a close spiritual relationship between me and god. I kept living with him until once something happened that made me come to my senses: we were at the airport with our children and I had my child's nail scissors in my hand bag, my husband went telling the police and he actually told him that wasn't the only prohibited thing I have and that they should check me up well. I finally asked for divorce and actually insisted on it this time. I went back to meeting some of my old friends; one of them was a guy who was married with children. He was concerned and kept asking me why have I changed to a miserable person like this, yes he had feelings for me but I made it clear that I didn't have feelings for him, I haven’t told him at first but after a couple of times I did. He asked me if my husband had a sexual problem, I told him there was no sex in the first place!!

I kept insisting on divorce and my husband kept on refusing, he offered me lots of money to give up on this request but I haven't accepted any. Things got ugly one time when he told me to go to the court and I wouldn't get a penny, I told him that It would be enough to say that it feels as if I'm living with my sister. He got extremely aggressive and broke everything around him. It was the first time to be brave enough and ask him if he was gay.. all he said was "Does it have a cure?" .. he didn’t deny nor agree. One day I woke up and found him stole everything that I own and disappeared for a year. His family used to threaten us, he didn't even spend a penny on his children. When he came back after a year I agreed that we have a friendly divorce that required me to give up all the money. We didn't have money at all, so I had to live with my dad because I didn't work. My ex-husband used to only pay for the school fees, but he kept on controlling us and spying on us. I got closer to god and I started taking my husband's problem lightly.

I can't get into any relationship now, I don't get attracted to any man no matter how much love he shows me. I know that I'm a woman who needs a man in her life because practically I never had one. I can't even think about sex, it terrifies me, is there any cure or treatment for what I have whether it's sexual trauma or veganismus? And I don’t think there's a man who could tolerate all that with me. And how can I know if I'm cured or not when I'm not married, and I what if I got married and failed having sex and put him in the same situation I was in. So, do I get cured first or get married first although I know have hate towards men and their masculinity.

I know that I need to find work but I don't have the courage to go look for work because I know I'm inexperienced and I have graduated long time ago. Also, I'm the father and mother for my children so they're taking all of my time and effort. I also started trying to take all my rights from their father and won't give up until I do. And I know I'll start looking for a job and do what I love but my steps are slow and full of fear. I know there isn't any fast magical cure for me, however, I just want to know my weaknesses to work on them. Thank you, and yeah I forgot to mention that I'm 35 years old.

 

Dear Survivor

Your message is heartbreaking! I rarely use the word “victim” to describe a person but this is the best description for you! It is painful to imagine a young woman forced to study something that does not interest her, coerced into getting married to a man she initially rejected and broke up with four times, and trapped into a make-believe marriage. You are a victim of a father who simply ignored your right to choose, a mother who simply ignored your very serious complaints, a doctor who agreed to an operation that should be performed under strict conditions to protect women like you from men like your husband, and a whole society that conspired to keep you ignorant and submissive!

I will not waste more lines on condemning your family and society! Here is my advice:

DO NOT GET INTO A RELATIONSHIP WITH A MAN; BUILD A RELATIONSHIP WITH YOURSELF!

Let’s pretend that the past 35 years of your life were a test-drive of the coming 100 years of your life – Yes I hope you live one hundred more yearsJ

Your real life is just beginning! Now, after putting down the magazine and reading my reply to you, you will go through a lot of pain and anguish like the throes of labor! With each contraction, I want you to pull yourself out of this painful comfort zone that you have settled into and take a bold brave decision!

Ask yourself: How do you want to live the coming 100 years of your life?

What was it that you wanted to study? Can you study that now? Can you take a diploma? Can you join a workshop? Can you get a job as a trainee in that field that you have always wanted to study? Buy books and download articles that would help you catch up! If you cannot do that, find the next best thing that you want to learn!

Remember that you deserve to be happy! What makes you happy? Explore new hobbies and find out more about yourself, your strengths, and your interests. I have known women who started their little clothes line, while others became great cooks and caterers. Some became photographers, candle-makers, painters, and writers! It is so empowering to take that journey into self exploration!

As for your sexuality, the best way to erase your previous trauma is to learn to love yourself! Be kind to your body! You have been rejected on so many levels for a very long time and you have learned to loathe your body, your desires, and your needs. It will take you time and effort to unlearn those horrible lessons! Start by sports! Go to the gym or join a dance class, or just walk! Eat good nourishing food and with every bite tell yourself how great it feels to nourish your cells! Change your wardrobe! Dress the way you feel like not the way people expect you to! Buy soothing bath salts and pamper yourself!

When you look at the mirror, I want you to admire who you see looking back at you! I want you to embrace every curve, bump, and scar! Remember that the way you see yourself will determine how people see you; if you see yourself worthy of love and respect people will see exactly this! If you see yourself worthy of pity, people will treat you as such!

You do not have vaginismus or any other sexual problem! Love is the answer to all your questions and doubts! When you love yourself the way you deserve to be loved, you will eventually meet a person who will appreciate you for who you are, and when the time comes your heart and your body will open up and you will enjoy a very healthy sex life.

There are many women who were in relationships with men who were sexually potent and they do not feel any better about themselves than you do; the sex left them feeling used, exploited and empty! They share your insecurities and self-esteem issues! Sex was never the cure to deep wounds like yours! A healthy sex life is the outcome of a healthy self-image, a healthy relationship, and a healthy overview of life! Confusion anywhere in your life will just bring confusion to your sex life.

Focus your energy on building a new you! You are lucky to have the chance to change the path that this society has forced you to take! Seize that opportunity and make the best out of it! NO REGRETS; ONLY LESSON LEARNED!

 

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