Through tears, she told me she lost everything.
In 2007, she came to Canada from Egypt with her abusive husband. She was a prisoner in her own home; she was not allowed to work, learn English, or leave the house without his permission. She only served him and her children.
He was ruthless, the epitome of cruel. He would drink regularly; letting the poison of the alcohol seep into his blood and into his actions. And it would spread throughout the house until the air was so toxic that she couldn’t breathe.
Or maybe that was because he would put his hands around her throat.
And it wasn’t just her throat he would put his hands on. He would pull her hair and beat her until she was polka dotted with purple bruises. And the purple that covered her body reminded her of the women he would bring home to indulge with in front of her. And those women reminded her of the women she saw outside when he would forcefully kick her out of the house when she was in nothing but her pajamas. And her pajamas reminded her of how little she had because he refused to support her financially.
They were together for 13 years.
13 years of struggling to breathe.
13 years of purple polka dots.
13 years of other women.
13 years of outdoor pajamas.
13 years of no support.
She needed it to stop. She worked up the courage to divorce him, thinking that it would end there, thinking that he wouldn’t be able to hurt her anymore.
The abuse went on beyond 13 years.
After the divorce, he contacted the welfare committee and convinced them to cut off the welfare for her and her children for two months. He refused to pay alimony for the children. He continued to harass her: showing up at the house or sending her messages to threaten her if she didn’t get back with him. She had to get a restraining order against him, but that didn’t include the children. He would demand that he regularly see the children. Sending her children to him was so unbearably difficult. After they would come back, she would notice that there were uneasy, psychologically stressed. It broke her.
Through tears, she told me she lost everything. She was constantly crying on the phone, telling me her story through shaky breaths and floods of tears. It broke me.
I needed to help her. Her money was tight on a month-to-month basis because she was only able to break even. By the Will and Grace of Allah (SWT) and the donors He inspired, we were able to help her financially and help her find resources to learn English and receive psychological treatment. We’re slowly trying to put her back together: to let her breathe, to erase the purple polka dots, to support her.
It’s going to be hard to erase 13 years of abuse. 13 years is a lot. We pray that for all those who are in a similar situation to her, we are able to help them, with His help, well before it reaches the 13-year mark.
Because 13 years is 13 years too many.