Behind Closed Doors
by Prisha Achary
(Durban, South Africa)
A Glimpse into my life-
This story doesn't have a fairy-tale ending, When I was younger, I always dreamed of marrying the man of my dreams, I wanted the life that you see in movies and read in books, I admit that it was a bit naive, but I met this man on my 19th birthday at a friend’s party, He was 7 years older than me and I was mesmerized. He was mature but fun to be with, we went out all the time and he visited me every day. I was crazy about him. Finally my dream was coming true. We decided to get engaged 6 months later, I mean what was the use of waiting when we were so right for each other. It was a grand affair, his whole family came over to my house and we were formally engaged. Two months later in June, I found out that I was 6 weeks pregnant, I was a bit apprehensive but he assured me that things would eventually work out for the better. My uncle, who is a minister, married us on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon with 6 people in attendance. I wore a beautiful red sari. Our courtship was the best 7 months of my life. Here was this wonderful man and he treated me like a queen, he was always so courteous and respected my feelings and thoughts. My friends and family warned me that something didn't seem right with him, but I was too blinded to see it.
After the ‘wedding’ I moved into his mother house with him, he told me that this was a temporary measure till we could get on our feet. I can honestly say that things changed almost instantaneously, He was always moody and rude to everyone including his mother. He is a teacher and was able to look after us comfortably, but sadly 1 month later he lost his job. We tried out best to make things work but the honeymoon phase was slowly disappearing.
The first time he hit me, I immediately called my mother as this was new to me, My dad had never hit my mother no matter what they went through. My parents came over and spoke to him. He had the audacity to tell them that as the husband and ‘man of the house’ he is entitled put me back in line if I slip up. My sister tried to reason with me but he’s my husband, Lots of married couples go through tough times but unfortunately mine never ended. I can’t explain his anger towards me, he use to get this hateful look in his eyes, he would hit me like I was a man and not the mother of his children. Apart from the beating, the emotional abuse was the worse. I put on 70 kilos of weight cause I was severely depressed and ate to fill the void, I was prescribed anti-depressants, I started losing my hair, I developed an allergy brought on by the stress and my immune system is practically non-existent. I crave to be romanced and held and kissed, I can’t tell you when was the last time I felt desirable or loved by him. I tried to get him to go to couples counseling but he refused and was even offended by the suggestion.
My husband was the ultimate ‘macho ‘man, his word was final, he was always right. I hadn’t studied anything because of the unexpected pregnancy a marriage, he constantly berated me for being “uneducated and stupid” because I did not possess a tertiary qualification. He used my weight against me and used this as an excuse as to why he didn't take me anywhere with him, I was embarrassing him. He went as far as to say that the tires and the shocks of the car on my side were getting worn out because of my weight. He would leave me for hours alone with my two kids and never call to tell me where he was. Many times I would find condoms in the car and in his clothes and he would brush it off as if I was crazy. Our sex life was non-existent as he said that my tummy got in the way. We are married ten years this year and yet nothing has changed, it has just got worst, the swearing sand cursing, the shoving and punching. He would force me to do all his school work and run his business but would not give me a cent, he said that I didn't deserve since I don’t have a degree, due to his constant beration, I have since enrolled in a college and doing my 3rd B.com Accounting. I had to still do all his work, run his business, take care of our children and try and find time to study. I feel so stupid for staying so long, how could I allow him to control my emotions and my body.
For years I believed that I wasn't good enough or worthy, He made me believe that no-one would accept me for me, But enough was enough, I plucked up the courage to get a protection order against him, and I’m finally in the process of getting a divorce. Now all I have to work on is getting my confidence and my life back, My story doesn't have a happy ending yet but I’m almost there.