That first slap across the face opened the door to many many more. Looking back, my biggest mistake was not calling the police the moment it occurred. I should have screamed as loud as I could, hit him back, yelled for help and created such a scene that he would have been afraid to look at me again, but I didn’t. I was in disbelief that a man would hit a woman like that. I grew up in a home where the husband never touched the woman in a negative manner. I remember my parents hugging, my mom playing with my dad’s hair, my dad teasingly pinching my mom. I had never witnessed, or knew anything about domestic abuse in a marriage. My siblings and I were punished with slaps, Punjabi chittars, wooden spoons, etc, but there had never been any sort of physical violence that I had ever seen in my house. I don’t even remember my parents fighting until I got married. My parents had talked about other families where domestic abuse was an issue, it wasn’t an issue in ours. We grew up on “getting the beats” from our parents which I feel shaped us kids into good respectful adults who have respect for our elders. Thanks mom and dad for beating us onto the right path??? I’m not against spanking as a parent depending in the circumstances (kid’s age, what they did). But, I can never be FOR hitting another grown adult. Nothing warrants a man hitting a woman or a woman hitting a man.
I think because I hadn’t been a part of such an ugly household I didn’t know how to react to the slap other than cry. I didn’t tell anyone about it, I kept quiet but I thought about it all the time. Had a done something so bad that he had to hit me? He was the one out with his girlfriend and I was being punished physically for asking about his whereabouts? I was at home with his family cooking, cleaning, entertaining and he was okay slapping me because I wanted to know where my husband was? Who was I to tell? I couldn’t tell anyone, I was so ashamed that I had been slapped by my HUSBAND. Growing up in a western country I had never thought that I would be a statistic for domestic abuse one day and here I am, a stat. What would my friends and family think of me? I was supposed to be the successful one out of the bunch with the perfect life! Where were the dreams of happiness that everyone had seen for me and made me believe? I was only 20 years trying to figure out my place in the house, but more importantly in his heart and life they answered in the form of abuse. I learned there was no space for me in their house or hearts. My dreams shattered that night.
I continued on the next day as if nothing happened. Made no mention of the slap to his parents or mine, in fact I told no one. I was so lonely and confused inside, all I could do is cry. I called my mom and told her how much I missed her and my life before marriage. She consoled me, letting me know marriage was a period of adjustment, it was going to take time but one day I will be so busy with life I won’t have time to cry. I then called my sister, told her I was feeling sad and lonely and asked her to visit me. She did come over within a few hours. I remember us talking about living with strangers and having a husband who is actually someone else’s boyfriend. We talked, she listened and I cried. This was my best friend, I didn’t even tell her what had happened, and maybe a part of me believed that was the only time it was going to happen. Her and I had plotted together our whole life, had secrets, successes and I still couldn’t bring myself to tell her. I trusted her the most, at this moment I didn’t trust my own feelings. I felt so violated and humiliated because of that one slap.
In the few months of marriage I had started to resent being born altogether. Many lonely evening/nights I would talk out loud to myself. Why did I have to be born as a girl into a home where boys were preferred? Why did I have to struggle being a girl. I knew I outshone my brother in everything but daily I was reminded that I was just a girl. God, why was I such a strong girl if you only wanted me to have an insecurity being a girl? I went from one type of struggle to another, all because I was a female??? I was then married into a family where being a daughter in law or wife meant you didn’t belong in the family. It meant you were there to be used and abused. I hated my gender and on top of it, being an INDIAN girl made it worse. I tried so hard at everything in life! I excelled in school, was a good kid, awesome role model for the young ones, loved my family, smiled all time, understood people, did what was right (almost always) and domesticated but why was I continually punished being a girl? What had I done so bad in my 20 years that I was thrown into this marriage? To this day I’m not sure why it’s been like this for me but it has given me the strength not to let this happen to my daughter or any other girl if I can help it.