A’s Story

May 2, 2024

I met my husband through work and he told me about his successes, so we became business partners, these successes were actually false. I shared information about my marriage breakdown with him and he empathised and shared his marriage difficulties. I was interested in his religion, Islam, and I asked him and my Muslim neighbours questions about their faith.

He was married to his cousin in [a south Asian country]. He said that neither of them wanted to marry one another but it was arranged by their family. He was taken and shown around [a few] family members houses and was told to choose one. He was being forced into marriage to correct his bad behaviour of mixing with white girls and small trouble with the law. Marriage was supposed to “sort him out”. The Girls were brought out and he had to choose “yes or no”. At the [final house he chose a girl, but they said she was taken, and he had to marry her sister. Both of them were unhappy but had no choice.

We lost contact for a few months, and I embraced Islam when he was on a visit to see his wife. On his return he claimed to be inspired by me becoming Muslim and leaving behind my bad behaviours (drinking, socialising, wearing immodest clothing). He said he wanted to leave behind his bad behaviours and would be able to do this if married me because he was still up to his old habits as his wife was in her homeland and he only saw her once a year. He said his family would not accept me or our marriage, but he knew for his religion to keep him from sinning that marrying me would be correct. I agreed but no marriage was arranged by him for some time, and I felt that we should be married so our relationship was not “haram/ sinful”, so we got married with an imam doing the ceremony.

The first imam we approached refused to marry us as he knew my husband’s family and that the marriage would make my husband’s family angry. A second imam agreed to me being a second wife if first wife agreed as my partner said she’d agreed but she didn’t speak English, so I took his word for it. The imam spoke to my husband’s first wife and said she had not agreed for her partner to take a second wife and my partner is a liar and not a good person and recommended I do not marry him. My partner seemed very upset and confused as his wife had, in his words, agreed and now changed her mind. He said he would have to divorce her as still wanted to marry me

I asked him to bring her to the UK first before divorcing to live with my husband’s family as I knew that in [his country] if a woman gets a divorce, no one will marry you. My husband wanted to divorce her, and I felt sorry for her. My husband said his mother had agreed to us marrying but not wishing to attend the ceremony, so we had to do it quietly. After the marriage took place, my husband said we must keep it quiet as his family didn’t want anyone to know. I discovered this was a lie and his family weren’t aware at all. I was a secret for some time, and I didn’t complain too much because my husband seemed worried and filled me with fear sharing stories about their power, control and influence of others and organisations here in UK and overseas.

A few months later his brother found out and contacted me ‘recommending’ I divorce his brother as the family do not support it. If I agreed to divorce him, they would be nice to me if not then things will be hard for me. I was strong on my religion and knew divorce is wrong unless absolutely necessary, so I stood firm. My husband had started to emotionally and psychologically abuse me by this point and threatening to leave regularly. My husband said that he wasn’t allowed to support me financially (his family is wealthy- something else I didn’t know and would never have asked for money even though Islamically it is a right to the wife that the husband supports her) and he was not allowed to live with me.

The father in law said if anyone else from his family married a white woman it will be my husband’s fault and he would be held responsible. My husband used this an excuse to be angry at me, blaming me for his family’s anger towards him. His family also warned him that MY children (from a previous marriage) will turn on him and he started making derogatory comments and gaslighting my children. The abuse all started to escalate. After requesting I divorce him and me refusing, they used blackmail in how other people in the community would view me which again I ignored so the family were putting pressure on my husband to divorce me. He used this against me throughout our whole marriage and blamed me for any little thing his family said or did – he had behaved badly in their eyes even when it had no relation to myself or my children.

We had an “on and off” relationship as my husband said he would divorce me so often and would just disappear leaving me in emotional distress. This would be if I didn’t agree to do certain things e.g., coming off social media and stop working and discipline my children harshly. He cheated multiple times. My husband’s teenage nieces contacted me, calling me names and accusing me of breaking up my husband’s first marriage. They were understandably upset for his first wife who is their relative. I told them they’d been misinformed by the family of the circumstances, and I wanted to explain what happened and suggested we meet for coffee. They agreed. I was encouraged by this and told my husband thinking he’d be happy that maybe we could make amends and clear up misunderstandings and build bridges, but he informed the girl’s mother who then her beat for being in touch with me. The guilt has haunted me ever since. Young girls getting beaten for speaking to me and because I told their uncle they were punished. I will never forgive myself for that.

I fell pregnant with our [child] [several] months later and the mental and emotional abuse increased. He started calling me names, putting me down, constant criticism of my appearance and mannerisms, using religious abuse to control me and he was going out more and not contacting me. He still wasn’t living with me claiming his parents will disown him if he moves in with me and remove his name from their business and a house they own and rented out.

My pregnancy was dangerous, my [child] had stopped growing and my waters decreased due to stress. My [child]was delivered early, and his family didn’t want anything to do with me. I had still never met my husband’s family except at religious events where they mocked me and whispered bout me glaring as they sat across from me. Once I’d given birth My husband became violent. For example, one day my [child] had pooed in the bath, and I needed to nurse our baby who had jaundice and was low birth weight. He refused to hand me our [child] to feed until I cleaned the bath. I’d had a C-section so still in a lot of pain and bending was extremely difficult. Our baby was screaming as she was cold, wet and hungry then startled as he stood over me shouting “you stupid bitch” pushing me in the head with his knee then his hand because I was begging to feed our [child] before I cleaned the bath. Then he threatened to take the baby to his parents where I was forbidden and fearful to go. I threatened to call the police if he did, and he shouted “I’m [the baby’s] Dad so you can’t do anything”. Thankfully I hadn’t put his name in the birth certificate at this point because I’d realised maybe he was not the man I thought he was, and he’d agreed not to have it on because I said CSA would make him pay for his child. I reminded him I had not put his name on the birth certificate so legally the police would return the baby. This angered him greatly but at least I was able to feed our baby and he left.

My husband then made me add his name on the birth certificate and took our baby to his parents when [the baby was a few weeks old]. He said he was taking [the baby] for a walk but took [the baby] to his parents. He was angry with me for not doing a celebration with sweets and shaving the baby’s head because his family said we had to, and I’d taken the midwives advice of not doing so because [the baby] was premature. As his family were angry at me, so was he and his verbal, emotional, mental abuse and coercive control was becoming increasingly evident. He started taking our child to his parents regularly, I was very anxious, but he would take it out on me and my children if I tried to stop him.

During this time, the family were saying that I had done black magic on him to make him marry me. Other community members whom I had got to know through my voluntary work, mosque attendance and my business were privately apologising on the family’s behalf even though I hadn’t told anyone about the situation, they already knew.

He had told me his family is the equivalent of the [South Asian] mafia and I found out later he had a violent past. The family own a lot a property and connections [in his own country and in UK have a big family]. [Our child] started crying about going to see his parents, and I got childcare as I needed to work to provide for my children. The abuse got worse, religious abuse, threats of, and actual abuse to not only myself but my children alongside coercive control, verbal and emotional abuse to all of us.

His family would change our [child’s] clothes when she went there, complaining that I didn’t dress our [child] Islamically. She was a baby/toddler, but they would complain if an arm was showing even in highest heats of summer. His sisters stopped speaking to him as he had married a white woman and as my [child] grew, they refused to allow [my child] to play with any cousins because I have white skin. This confused and upset our [child] badly.  My husband still just blamed me for his family not being as nice to him as before.

I fell pregnant again a few months later and He started to stay over in my house 3 nights a week. The abuse got even worse after my second child. He was very controlling – constantly picking at me and the children. When I was pregnant, he would do things to make me feel bad, like sleep on the floor because I was in bed with a toddler with sleeping issues and pregnant. There was another bed, but he insisted on sleeping in the floor. He’d accuse me of ‘teasing him sexually’ by wearing provocative clothing and refusing to give him sex (me not wanting to be close after abusive incidents). He’d constantly accuse me of having affairs and would be harsh to our [child] so the elder [children] stepped in then he’d rage at them and threaten them physically. I’d stay quiet, I’d pled with him, I’d give in to his demands, ask my children to please just do as he says and suggested they stay in their rooms when he came round so, they didn’t have to be around him but he would then go into their bedrooms and start fights with them.

One day l tried to calm him down by going downstairs to sleep next to him. He had sex with me with his hands around my throat. I froze and didn’t move as he was aggressive and seemed angry as he was doing it. Afterwards I cried as I went back upstairs. I woke up an hour later to blood pouring out of me, at 20 weeks pregnant I had haemorrhaged very badly. He wouldn’t get up to take me to the hospital. I went into robot mode, packed a bag, made food for the children and left a note said I’d get an ambulance and he eventually took me to hospital. As we arrived at A and E, he stayed in the car but as I was walking in, he rolled down the car window and shouted, “don’t die, I can’t cope with our [child] on my own”.

I was admitted to hospital until the end of my pregnancy.

His mother came to the hospital, and I gave her a cake, she refused it. I asked my husband afterwards what [they were] saying. He said she’d said “why am I here? I don’t look sick I should be at home looking after the children” I was admitted because I could die within minutes of haemorrhaged again which was high likely. My eldest children were at home with my parents taking it in turns to be off work and drive back and forth a 3 hour round trip to care for them.  My husband’s family lived a few doors away at this point and didn’t offer any help at all. I was in hospital for 3 months and his family accused me of being in hospital for no reason. My husband was angry about looking after our first [child] at his parents’ home. I found out later he didn’t look after our [child] he was out with friends and on dating sites leaving the childcare to his relatives. They were not nice to our [child], and their treatment included force-feeding, restrictive clothing and forced potty training. These were things they had told my husband to make me do and I refused saying know how to raise kids I have other children and [this child is] progressing properly.  I was very anxious about this.

The hospital staff noticed something was wrong after hearing my husband cursing me and they offered to speak to his family to explain the situation, but I declined fearful of causing more trouble.

I had a traumatic birth and both myself and new baby nearly died. Our premature baby was in the highest level care unit, with all the breathing apparatus and tube fed. I initially couldn’t be there as I was in ICU. Unannounced his family came to see me when I was in my most vulnerable state. There was only supposed to be one person permitted to visit ICU but somehow 4 family members got though the security checkpoint. Another midwife noticed something was wrong and she said she came and said she could tell them to leave but I panicked and said no, no please let them in. She reluctantly did so but was very kind to me. The family then proceeded to visit our new baby in NICU where only parents of babies are permitted but again somehow, they got in and spent time with my baby before I’d even had the opportunity to do this.

Once I recovered, they sent me home but I visited to nurse my new baby daily and ensure close contact. I was accused of being “a bad mother” and made my older children feel abandoned as my husband told them I don’t care about him or them I just care about the new baby. “I felt so torn and guilty about it, and I would feel broken each time I left my children or my baby. Guilt killed me.

Once home I was able to start work again, had to do extra as I’d been in hospital for so long. I did a lot of public events with my work and voluntary work and my husband’s family would attend some making remarks. When our first [child] was a bit older my husband’s [female relative] cut their hair very short. I was unhappy about this, and my husband told me that “[they’re] her [child] as much as yours”. The children did not want to visit his family. My eldest would scream and hang on to me. My husband’s [female relative] told my children that they were not allowed to play with her children as their mother is white. His [family]would call me by an insulting racists name in front of my husband and children. I was told myself and my children [from a previous relationship] were “dirty” and they would say this to our [child] also. They would wash my children’s hair even when it was clean. They would wrap the children in a towel and tip them upside down to wash their hair so they could not resist, they described it like waterboarding – one is still struggling with washing hair even now, years after we left.

When the children visited, his family would deliberately ignore them, especially my first [child] who was a bit more outspoken. My husband would tell the other children not to speak to our  [his child] and this was extremely distressing. [That child] began to communicate better and returned one day saying that Dad had hit [them] all over the head, bum, back and legs in front of everyone. My youngest [child] goes mute when scared or anxious and still does today. One day they came back from my husband’s family and my youngest had a tear-stained face and eyes wide open not communicating. My oldest explained that [their] Dad had pulled [that child’s] arms hard, shaking hard and shouting.

The children were force fed and made to eat food that was too spicy.my eldest sucked off the chilli so the baby could eat as they were so hungry.  His family would send back the food that I’d sent for the children. Their Dad would shove food into their mouths by force. I would send toys over, but they weren’t allowed to play with them, and the family sent the toys home and threw some in the bin again making my eldest distraught as some were very special.

In the early days my husband was overly nice to my older children, getting them takeaways, designer clothing, day trips that I could never afford. Then he flipped. He would turn the children against me, saying I’d promised things I hadn’t and make me discipline them unnecessarily. For example, he would insist I tell them to turn their music off, and I knew he would kick off if I didn’t, being aggressive and shouting at them himself. I’d ask them to turn music off and the kids began resenting me for nit-picking for no reason. My husband would then go in to my kids and bad mouth me saying I don’t know why your mum is so moody. When I overheard this and try explaining it was him ordering me to tell them to do stuff he would deny this, so I looked crazy or like a liar, gaslighting.

He physically assaulted [one of my teenage children], and told me to choose between him and my [child]. I chose my [child]. My husband left for a bit with lots of threats of what would happen to me, but I stood by my [child]. My husband came back and, on another occasion, he threatened to knock [one of the younger children’s] teeth out. He would mock my children when they were upset, scared or angry at his abuse. One time my husband goaded and taunted my [child] who was visibly shaking with Adrenalin and fear. My [child] lost it and punched a hole in the door and my ex laughed. Another time my husband mocked my [child], who then  broke a hand when he punched the wall. I had no recollection of this until 2 years after I left and my [child] reminded me. I started having flashbacks on this and other events such as the day [one of my children] came home upset and distressed after the first day at a new school – my husband stood on [the child’s] hair and  [said] to get up. His foot remained, pulling some hair out.

In 2017 I went away with work leaving my parents with my children. I started to realise the issues at home were not my fault after talking to 2 women I’d met and encouraged me to open up after seeing my odd behaviours with the phone and panic attacks. They encouraged me to get help and leave asap.  I started to document events and kept an emergency bag. In 2018 I read a book about psychopaths and started to make sense of what was happening.

I found out he was cheating again and had been harassing another woman he had been seeing. I told him I’d found out that he’d been cheating. He blamed me and tried gaslighting me saying if I’d show him more love, if I gave him attention, he’d not have done it and he was alone as his family still angry he’d married me, and he has no one and needed to talk to someone. I suggested he went back to his family to live and get some therapy. I managed to get him out of our home majority of the time via this. It gave us some breathing space and our home was calm again, kids happier again.

He would often take our children to his family’s house without consulting with me. He then started to let himself into my home unannounced and at strange hours like 1-2am when he was supposed to be staying with his [family]. Once I was breastfeeding in the middle of the night and he turned up and frightened me as I wasn’t expecting him, and I screamed. He started shouting at me and the children, and the children went upstairs with my eldest [child]. He smashed something glass in the sink and then he left. I was scared. Another time I went to the bathroom in the early hours and went back to my bedroom and he was stood there in the dark watching me. I have no idea how long he’s been there. He also started photographing and videoing me without consent, even when naked.

He came once and divorced me. He told me that this would have bad consequences because it’s not just him after me, but his family would be too and he’d use my previous mental health against me. I found him in the house looking for the [children]’s passports, something he’d do when used to do this when threaten divorce. I asked why he was looking for them and he’d say he needed to make sure he had the [children] now we were getting divorced. He used to threaten to take the children overseas, so I was terrified he’d divorce me and abduct the kids.  He wrote the divorce then burnt it later. I had to have sex with him to make it up, so we didn’t have to do another Nikah.

My husband physically assaulted my landlord with a weapon. The next day the landlord was going to evict me, but he took pity on me, advised me to leave him. I contacted Women’s Aid. My husband and his family started to intimidate the landlord and his mother. I couldn’t afford another place. My husband’s [family] found me a rented property that they own. I agreed to move in if there was a proper tenancy without my husband on it. The day I moved in, my husband moved in too and went mental at me. He told me that the tenancy wasn’t real and refused to leave and the abuse just kept getting worse.

During Covid I managed to get him to leave as my [children] have health issues that made them vulnerable. He would come back for an hour a day to play with the [children] in the garden. One time he suddenly called to say he was coming over. He said he was taking the [children]. I was scared of Covid but he and his family thought it was a conspiracy theory. I picked up one [child], he pushed another [one’s] head against the wall. The [children] were screaming. Somehow, I managed to get him out, it’s a blur still but he did eventually leave. He got very abusive after this especially when he found beer bottles, one of my older [children] was drinking to self-medicate from the abuse and my husband went mad.

He would do the abuse cycle – abusive, begging, presents, then abuse again. He would take gifts back or would give me [gifts obtained illegally]. He said, “you think it’s been bad before, you wait until after Eid”. I realised that he liked being out of the house as he could meet other women. On Eid day, my friend came to have cake. [My husband] walked straight in with some men I didn’t know and sat in the garden. I felt something had shifted. He never allowed men near me let alone in our home. My friend stayed until they left. The next day I fled as the abuse to my kids was enough for me to worry about their safety.

My [older child] wouldn’t come with me, so went to friends. I went to my [relative]’s house. I contacted the police and social services. I’m glad it was taken out of my hands at this point, and I couldn’t return as social services were involved.

I pretended I was just going for short time and would return but after a few weeks My husband threatened to come and get the [children] from me after he hacked into my emails and found I’d reported the abuse to police and was looking for another home for us all.

I fled my relatives and went to stay at a friend’s house. He arrived with his [male relatives] to take the children. They looked around for me. I phoned the police as my husband found my car which fortunately is hidden away from where we were staying. (I later found out he’d put a tracker on my car hence why he’d located it ) My [husband’s male relative who attend with him  repeatedly called and text me to come outside and told me that I owed thousands of pounds of rent, blackmailing me that if I didn’t come out they’d have to get the money back . I did not go out.

I went to live with another friend and moved on a couple more times whilst got a non-molestation order. When it was served, my husband asked the server if he could take the [children] if he bumped into them, as the non-mol was about me. He asked 3 questions that indicated that he was planning to abduct the children.

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