Was I ever really married?

By December 21, 2015Uncategorized

The room was in pitch black darkness.

It had the smell of fresh paint and the threat of unfamiliarity.

He used one hand to pin my arms above my head, and the other to try and control my struggling legs.

I could feel the metal chain of his watch scraping my inner thigh.

With a tug of desperation, I set my arms free and tried to push his chest away.

He immediately pressed his palm on my mouth.

“You can try and scream if you want”, he whispered. “But we’re on the third floor and everyone else is at the bottom of the house. No-one will hear you.”

Nonchalant. That’s how I’d describe his tone.

Like I’d bought a new TV and he was explaining how I should work the remote.

There was one intended outcome, and my struggle wasn’t a part of it.

How did I get here?

This man, who was barely the same height as me — how did he have the strength to overpower me?

Why hadn’t I seen this coming? And when it started, why couldn’t I stop it?

For someone so strong willed and outspoken, I certainly wasn’t using my powers to my advantage.

So I succumbed.

I let him do what he needed to do. The quicker it starts, the quicker it’s over.

You can’t win them all.

I was raped, once is something I’d come to tell less than a handful of people over the next few years.

It’s the story I’d reluctantly share with friends when we’d tell the tale of how we lost our virginity.

Oh, I don’t want to talk about it”, I’d mutter, staring at my hands. “I was married. And he forced himself on me.”

Using the ‘R’ word out loud would never be possible. It’s heavy — with judgement, remorse and shame.

It’s a serious thing, this business of rape. A scandalous thing. A surprising thing

And when your husband delivers this scene in your life, it’s a shocking thing.

A rapist is someone who lurks in dark corners, impatiently awaiting his prey.

He’s someone that attacks you after you walked down a dark street on your own at 3am on a Friday night, when your friends took a cab and you decided you needed some air.

He has a weapon. A plan. A sick mind.

He isn’t someone you agreed to marry; the man that’s supposed to protect you.

Though my marriage had been arranged, I’d wholeheartedly said yes to it.

Nobody had tied me to a chair, pointed a knife to my face, and said: Do it or die.

I had the freedom to choose.

And I’d said yes.

The thing I hadn’t banked on was my wedding night marking the moment I’d begin plotting my divorce.

My henna hadn’t started to fade and already I was looking for a way out.

The next morning was a flurry of activity.

The reception day of a wedding means more make-up, more gold and a new outfit.

Only this time, my smile was forced, my shoulders were slumped, and the light behind my eyes had vanished.

I wept when I saw my mum.

You missed us, didn’t you?” She put her arm around my shoulders, laughing at how silly I was.

I couldn’t bring myself to tell her

Would she believe me? Was I remembering it correctly? Would he talk his way out of it?

Eventually I’d start talking about it. Sharing the experience but being careful not to reveal any emotion. Give an overview with a focus on the aftermath.

Faking a smile. Lying and saying I’m better now than ever. The experience gave me wisdom and perspective.

I was scared, but the experience gave me strength.

It was a shock, but told me everything I needed to know about him.

The night was unexpected, but I was young — I had time to process it.

The more I talked, the more opinions I received.

As it turns out, opinions on the entire affair were decidedly different.

Society would say:

Consummating the marriage is the duty of a husband and wife. Why else would you get married? You don’t have a marriage and then act like you’re dating. You have a marriage and then live like a married couple — from day one.

Friends would say:

WHAT?! That bastard! You should have divorced him the very next day! But look, you came out stronger for it. Now, go see a therapist …

But compassion? Compassion had a characteristically unique take:

He was raised in a society were men and women are segregated. Most men want to get married because they can legitimately have sex. They follow the rules so they can do what they’re biologically called to.

Your respective views of marriage were different. You think marriage is about respecting and understanding each other before you have a physical relationship. And he? Was purely acting out his right as a husband. In his mind, he wasn’t forcing himself on you. He just didn’t have the capacity to understand your perspective.

Compassion would gently encourage me to forgive him.

Be the bigger person. Understand his background and the way he was raised. Piece together his experiences and consider how he is who he is.

Forgive him

But forgiveness isn’t easy.

Not when you want to forgive, but you keep circling back to that night he told you that you wouldn’t be heard. That your voice didn’t count. It had the echoes of a threat. It felt like a betrayal.

Forgiveness may not be easy, but there’s something to be said about reflection. To look back and observe from a new place.

I see it now: It was the moment I became an adult.

When did you?

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One Comment

  • Captain Walker says:

    [Nothing in this post is to be construed as advice.]

    “I had the freedom to choose.”

    No Razwana, I’d say you did not have ‘freedom to choose’ on the issue of marriage. The OPTION A and OPTION B were theoretical choices that occured to your mind. In all that you’ve written, about this part of you life, you were compelled by various forces. It might appear to someone who hasn’t read the story carefully that you had a choice to make. Nowhere in your story do I see that you had been given the option that had no serious adverse consequences in the domain of family, cultural or religious expectations. Had you taken personal action to say no to the marriage, the perceived or expected consequences would have been perceived as ‘fraught with trouble’. It was a forced choice – not a ‘free willing choice’. I know you’re intelligent enough to know this.

    The issue of forgiveness does not arise for me in reading the story – therefore no forgiveness for him or anybody else who was part of the whole set up. There are subtle pressures to ‘forgive’ weighing on you. These are there either in the foreground or background. There is a kind of logic out there that if a person is acting within a certain accepted framework or ‘context’, that they are not responsible or did not know what they were doing is wrong. You know it was rape. Everybody knows it was rape. No religious or cultural context can change that. You have no ‘duty to be raped’ in any context. No woman has a ‘duty to be raped’.

    Anybody who has been raped has a duty to themselves to involve the law. I’m sure you have considered that. But then again you will have been confronted by adverse consequences (you know best) that inhibit you from doing that which logic would dictate. It would appear that there is a 7 year period in your history where it took you that long to pick yourself up – and now that it would appear to be behind you (and also away from it in terms of physical distance too), you will not wish to dredge up the past and the emotions. The name of your site ‘reGENERATION’, also suggests that you wish to leave it all behind – but really, you cannot – you do not. I see that the past is in front of you. Injustice – to put it mildly – haunts you. You carry it with you.

    You simply cannot just erase any of what happened from the recesses of your mind. At each stage – into your ‘marriage’ and possibly out of it – you have been confronted by choices, which if logic dictated, you would have ended up in greater ‘troubles’. So at each stage up to now, you are not making free choices – that’s the way I see the story so far. ‘Choices’ are never free of adverse consequences. So what ‘we’ tend to do in life is, opt for the so-called ‘path of least resistance/pain/discomfort’ – and that’s how you were in effect coerced into the whole situation and chain of events. The chain of events continues i.e. you moving away, setting up a different life. But the past – the injustice – walks with you every step of the way. Perhaps there is a dream or a real strategy that a better future may dilute all that has happened. That is entirely a course for you to decide on. From my experience, injustice is like a bungee cord – you can stretch it very far but it tends to pull you back in. The scissors is ‘justice’. But should you opt to use it, you can expect to be confronted by much psychological pain. Avoidance of pain, is what often ‘decides’ things for us.

    How or what would you advise another woman who has suffered the identical chain of events to yours (and there are thousands out there)?

    [I’ve emailed you separately with a correct email address]

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