Never give up your right: a story of domestic violence, sexual abuse and daily struggle

Today is international women’s day.
It’s 4 in the morning and I can’t sleep.
Ironic.
I was born at 4 o’clock in the morning.
I was born a girl.
If I only knew then what I was going to go through in my life, I would have wished myself not to be born at all.
I was born in a family with an abusive mother and a silent father.
This is what I got from my parents who made me.
This is what I should be grateful for:
From the age of 7 – today I have been called a whore.
From the age of 0 -17, I was beaten almost daily by my mother.
At a very young age, 2 – 5, I was sexually molested, never told my parents though so I can’t blame them for it.
From the age of 6 – today, I was/am controlled in every action I did/do and in every spoken word I said/say.
The only difference today is that I am not beaten on top of it. My punishment is different. I am dead to them, so I still feel every strike I got on my body growing up but now in their rejection of me.
At the age of 15 they tried to force me into marriage but I got the man to think I am crippled when they forced me to speak to him on the phone, so I got free from that. They never knew why he suddenly changed his mind, they still don’t know today.
At this age I started to run away from home as well.
At 16, my first suicide attempt and I ended up in the hospital and after that at a child and adolescent psychiatric clinic.
My mother said: I wish you died!
I think that is the only sentence she and I ever shared in opinion, I had wished that too, so many times.
My parents here were so ashamed of me being at a clinic that they decided, as I destroyed my reputation in their point of view, that we all had to move to another city.
No, it isn’t a joke.
We moved, many many miles away.
And yes, because I had tried to kill myself and they were ashamed of me being at a psychiatric hospital.
Let that sink in for a while.
At 17, after getting rid of my sister, forced into marriage at 14, then it was my turn. But before that, a couple of months before that, I was sexually assaulted by a relative.
Here comes years of silence from my father, the Silent Watcher, until today!
So let’s get back to the forced marriage with the rape included at the so called “wedding night”.
All my life I have never been able to choose who to love and who to give my body to. My dear parents/relative/the “rapist forced husband” took care of that decision when I was young. The most beautiful experience I could have had, to fall in love and lose my virginity to the boy I love, was ripped away from me in the most disgusting way.
I can never make it undone.
I can never undo the pain.
I can never undo the screams.
I can never undo the tears.
I can never undo the number of times I begged him to stop.
And I can never undo the bloody towels they collected to celebrate my virginity as a display in front of everyone the day after my rape. My relatives and mother so proud about the amount of blood on the sheets.
And my father?
What did he do in all this?
Haven’t you learned it by now?
Silent at home, not participating, but as always, a silent watcher.
18 1/2 years old, running away with a baby at my arms from my raper and abuser after spending months talking to my father on the phone begging him to help me, telling him how my abuser beat me.
The Silent Watcher said nothing.
I ran away, I called the Silent Watcher and told him about my plan to get a divorce.
My  mother was screaming in the background and calling me a whore and the Silent Watcher told me I am welcome if I go back to my rapist and abuser but not welcome if I decide to get a divorce.
I ended up alone.
In the streets.
Suddenly homeless.
With a baby.
Do I have to tell you I lost her in court?
My abuser won.
My mother and all my relatives, who all my life talked about dignity, what a girl should and shouldn’t do and the meaning of family, they all became like my father.
They all became the Silent Watcher.
No one helped me.
No one cared.
No one came to court.
I lost her.
And me? What happened to me? I was moved from one juvenile home to another and even once in foster home care until I became 24 years of age.
At 18 – today, I have been called a bad mother.
At 18 1/2  - today, I have met my mother maybe 3 times and the last time I tried she called me a whore and a liar when I called her “Mother” and she refused to open the door for me.
And my father?
Well, the sin I committed  (getting a divorce), he and my mother did the same. He is remarried and still the Silent Watcher but also a silent abuser because I am not welcome to be myself anywhere near him.
It’s his way or the highway.
So, I have no father.
I never had.
I have no protecter.
So what does it mean in an honour culture society?  It means that anyone and everyone have been able to take pieces of me at all times with no struggle whatsoever.
I am a walking meatmarket and punching bag with a bullseye on my forehead.
Let me explain:
A woman, who lives alone and disobey her father, the culture and religion she belongs to, is nothing but cheap and free to anyone to abuse.
Years passed, I have been hospitalised many times in the psychiatric ward.
Why?
My tears and pain has always been the same and had the same reasons, the longing for my stolen and lost child and the big knife in the back by my family.
I tried suicide 3 more times over the years.
Last attempt 6 – 7 years ago.
Today I am ok, not totally, I am still damaged goods but I am here, am I not?
All my life I have been abused and I am still here.
I struggle every day to survive, and with the help of my pencil, and the love of my friends, I am getting stronger.
One beautiful day I will be strong enough to write a book about this. I will stand in front of everyone and talk about honour culture. Maybe it will take years as the hurt is still so deep but it doesn’t matter. Let it take time.
I will speak up.
I am not what my mother called me all my life, “Useless”.
And I am not my father’s daughter, “A silent watcher”.
You will hear and watch me fight back louder and with more confident in the future.
What I just wrote now was just the teaser/trailer.
I wrote this as my gift to all women around the world on the International women’s day:
Unite, fight and never give up your right!

About Sandra El Khoury

Since I was 4, I have questioned the world around me. I knew from as early as that age that I didn't belong with my family. As soon as I could hold a pencil in my hand I started to write about honor culture and that pen is still there, ready to speak up about the injustice we women face in the Middle Eastern society. That pen will never rest.

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4 Responses to Never give up your right: a story of domestic violence, sexual abuse and daily struggle

  1. Chantale Khayat March 11, 2017 at 10:08 am #

    I am so sorry for what you have been through but telling your story with such courage is a first step to healing. I wish you all the best Sandra and never lose hope. In solidarity!

    • Sandra March 12, 2017 at 6:42 pm #

      Hi Chantale. Thank you so much for your comment. I really appreciate it. And yes, since I wrote the text I have been a little depressed, but it feels good to finally write it down. Writing to me is like therapy and I will continue writing until my last breath in life. Hugs, Sandra

  2. Anonymous March 11, 2017 at 5:24 pm #

    Courage!
    Ce texte m’a fait pleurer…

    • Sandra March 12, 2017 at 6:45 pm #

      Hi, my French is not so good but I understood what you wrote. Thank you dear. Yes, I feel courageous for writing this. I want you to wipe your tears and take my hand and together build a better future for coming generations. We must get stronger and fight against honour culture to stop this cruelty once and for all.
      Thank you for your support.

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