One summer day as I came home from school, I noticed my parents had company. My mother frantically dragged me into the kitchen and told me that I need to get dressed quickly and come downstairs because this family is here from Canada to give a rishta (marriage proposal) for their son.
My throat felt like it was closing and trickles of sweat started pouring down my forehead. I quickly changed into the most wrinkled shalwar Kameez I could find and wiped off my makeup – I prayed to God they would think I was ugly and move on to their next pursuit. Unfortunately, my plan to repel them didn’t work.
A year and five months later, I became Mrs. Kazimi; married to a man twice my age.
My husband and his family welcomed me to Canada soon after. I was excited to come to Canada, even though I didn't want to get married initially. I had heard so many great stories about Canada and was excited for all the opportunities that awaited me from studying to working. As I settled in to their home, the abuse started. The very first time he hit me, I ran to my mother in law thinking she would make it stop. Instead, she told me to be patient because he was under a lot of pressure at work and was emotionally distressed due to the death of a close family member. I felt sorry for him and took the abuse hoping that he will get better. After an intense argument one day, he wrapped me in a blanket, to leave no evidence, and beat me unconscious. That’s the day I decided his emotional distress was nothing but an excuse.
That is the day I started to plan my escape.
One day, during one of his usual episodes of rage, he hit me on my face and neck. Badly bruised and scared for my life, I ran downstairs to our basement tenants. My bruises and regular screams, which travelled through the vents, required no explanation. They sheltered me for a few days and contacted Nisa Homes. A police officer escorted me to my room to collect my belongings, I was then taken to a local women’s shelter and took the next morning’s flight to Vancouver.
As the plane touched down at Vancouver Airport, I felt I could finally breathe again. I was thrilled that I could put the abuse behind me and go somewhere far away where I would be safe and could restart my life.
Then I found out I was pregnant.
I knew I had to get an abortion; I wanted no relation with the horror I lived through.
But deep down I knew every life deserves a chance to live, but, the only thing on my mind was to get rid of this baby and start my life again. Despite setting up various appointments to get an abortion, various unforeseen circumstances stopped me going through with the procedure. I realized that this was a sign from God and I decided not to abort the baby. This was the toughest and the best decision I ever made.
I stayed at Nisa Homes until I gave birth. It was no easy pregnancy – everything made me sick and dizzy and I could barely eat. During this time, the Nisa Homes team not only helped me receive welfare, as I was unable to work, they also found me an apartment and furnished it primarily through donations.
When my daughter Ayah came into this world, I knew I made the right decision. I could never love someone more than I loved her.
My dream is to help other victims of domestic abuse and make this world a safe place for my Ayah to live in.
*Names and details have be altered to protect the identity of those involved