It wasn’t easy, but I did it

This is the story of a woman who previously stayed at Nisa Homes. She shares her story in the hopes that it can help other women take the necessary steps to find peace, safety, and security.

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I've always been told I have a lovely smile. It’s a really nice compliment to hear but for me unfortunately, it was a dark reminder of how miserable I actually felt inside. It was also a reminder of how great I had become at hiding my struggles and pretending that my life was perfect. Behind my smile, there were these constant thoughts of killing myself and crying myself to sleep. It took a lot to even get out of bed, to eat, to take care of my children, to even just breathe and live through another day. I masked my sorrows behind that smile. I needed to convince everyone around me that I was happy, and that my life was great. I think I was also trying to convince myself, hoping that if I believed it hard enough, it would become true.

I pretended to be happy because that’s what I thought I was supposed to do. I didn’t think anyone could help me, and mostly, I felt very ashamed about my secrets. It’s still hard sometimes talking about it. I had been married for a decade with two beautiful children and a seemingly loving husband. From the outside, we looked like the perfect family. I was constantly told how lucky I was to be able to relax at home and enjoy my life as a mom and a housewife. But little did everyone know, that behind closed doors my husband was very controlling. I realize now that he was emotionally, verbally and financially abusive towards me and that is never okay.

He would criticize everything I did and would find ways to put me down and insult me, especially in public. He enjoyed humiliating me in front of other people. Nothing I did was every good enough or the right way as per him. I kept telling myself its my fault that I am not good enough, that I am so flawed. I started believing him and the depression got worse. What’s the point of trying when nothing you do is right? I felt like I wasn’t pretty enough, smart enough or even worthy enough of anything. A decade is a long time and being with him had broken my spirit completely.

I tried to find ways to find happiness, to do things that would bring me joy. But he wouldn't let me. He constantly checked my phone, my messages and my social media accounts on a regular basis. I barely spoke to my family and while he told me who I could and couldn't be friends with, I ultimately lost touch with most of my friends. I was embarrassed they would find out the truth. The worse part was that I didn’t even have access to money or a bank account since he claimed I wouldn’t know how to handle money. I had to beg for his permission every time I needed to make the smallest purchase, even food.

When our kids started school I thought I could finally start my career. I wanted some independence, and I wanted to get out of the house. The dark cloud of depression was getting worse every day. My husband however completely refused to let me work and told me that my role was to cook, clean and take care of the kids. He told me that I should be grateful he supported our family so well.

I struggled through every day but somehow, I kept going. But after 10 years of marriage, 10 years of dedicating my whole life to this man, I discovered he was cheating on me. It crushed me. I blamed myself for his affair. If only I was better looking and better at keeping him happy.

After finding out, I felt like there was no way out and nothing I could change. I felt I was better off dead. That was when I attempted to kill myself. Fortunately, my attempt was unsuccessful. It was a turning point for me. There was nothing worth sacrificing my life for. More importantly, I realized if I were to leave or if anything were to happen to me, my children would be left with him and I didn't want them to grow up in such a toxic environment. I needed things to change for the sake of my children. It took me 10 years to find the courage to make a change. I didn’t know what to do next or where to go, I just knew anywhere was better than being with him.

I reached out to an old friend for help. I told her how I ended up in the hospital, and she was shocked. I told her I didn’t know where to go next but I needed to leave. I had no money, resources or family to turn to. That’s when she mentioned Nisa Homes, a shelter for women and children. I gave them a call the same day.

I was able to move there within a week alhamdulilah. The first thing the woman who greeted me with when I moved in was a hug and whispered “You are not alone!”.  And for the first time in a while, I felt safe and I believed her. I wasn’t alone anymore, I had found amazing people to help me. I can’t even describe the relief and gratitude I felt at that point.

I have now finally divorced my husband. I have a job and I support myself and my children. I don’t think I would have made it this far without Nisa Homes. They sheltered me and provided me with food, safety and help. They supported me get shared custody of my children. Most importantly, they reminded me of my strength and resilience.

It was not easy, but with their help I was able to move forward. Now my smile is back, but this time it’s genuine and whenever I get a compliment, my smile gets bigger and my heart feels full.