After 15 Years Of Staying In An Abusive Marriage, This Pakistani Woman Is Finally Speaking Out

By Sajeer Shaikh | 2 Jul, 2017

When we’re younger, our mothers stroke our hair lovingly, and among the many duas that they make for us, they pray for us to be blessed with spouses that love us dearly. We may brush this aside because we’re too young to understand, but what we perhaps fail to see is that the dua comes from a place of concern, where hearing about abusive marriages that are never dissolved due to societal pressures is known to be a norm. Because, much like many plagues that exist in the hushed underbelly of our society, being stuck in an abusive marriage is a very real problem.


Farzeen Baig* talks about her terrifying experience being stuck in an

“I was married when I was in my final year at my medical university. I was from a simple family. You didn’t date, you couldn’t really get to know someone before getting married to them. Some of my friends were different. They urged me to get to know him. But it honestly wasn’t that easy. I waited till both the sides had agreed to some form of commitment. Then we would talk on the phone at night when everyone else was asleep.”



Farzeen’s calm demeanor slowly starts to change as she reveals the exact moment her life started to crumble

“When we got married, things were fine for the first few months. He was kind and gentle. Every morning, he would drop me to work with a smile on his face. He suggested moving out of his family’s house to a place near both our workplaces. I agreed, because it seemed like the sensible thing to do. Shifting houses coincided with my first pregnancy. That’s when things started to change.”


“He became angrier – perhaps because the move had cost us a lot. The second month of pregnancy – that’s when he hit me the first time. It came out of nowhere. He was immediately apologetic and I was too stunned to utter a word. I tried to lock myself in the room, which I suppose was another mistake. He beat me again, only to stop at the excruciating pain that radiated through my body. I’ve studied medicine, so I had a feeling I knew what had happened before going for a check-up. I had miscarried.”



With damp eyes, she goes on recounting other instances of abuse

“It didn’t stop there. I was pregnant again, shortly after. He would beat me in fits of rage throughout, but he would have to stop before inflicting a lot of damage. He wanted the child as much as I did. I tried calling home many times. But I could never get around to telling my parents, especially since everyone was celebrating the pregnancy. What would I have said? And did I really expect to leave this abusive marriage? Where would I go? Who would take care of me?”



Over the years, she became used to the explosive outbursts of her husband

“There were good days and bad days. He would be the kindest man one day, and the most terrifying human the next day. I learned to stay out of his way. By the time our third child was born, and our children were old enough to understand what was happening, the beatings took place behind closed doors.”



But she never left or spoke out against the abuse… until now, that is

“It’s been about 15 years. People around you start seeing bruises and scars. You can only use the same excuse so many times. No, people knew. They still know. But no one asked. They would whisper and speculate, but no one asked. Ever. And I didn’t speak up because years of domestic violence, clinical depression and, well, fear, will stop you from doing many things.”

“My father passed away a few years ago. How can I become a burden on my mother now? And honestly, what will people say? Itni bari umar main bachon ko baap se alag karne nikal parhi hai. Our society is not kind to those who want to seek liberation.”



Before many of us start pointing fingers at Farzeen, let’s not forget that she is just one of the countless, faceless women and men who go through the same, on a daily basis

For many of us, it will be easy to state that her staying was a choice – one made out of fear. But does our society really leave open doors or windows of opportunity for people who wish to leave abusive marriages?

There are women who walk among us – sit with us at dinner parties, laugh with us at gatherings – who use makeup to hide layers of abuse that has seeped under their skins and has begun to affect their mental well being. As a society that cannot even fully acknowledge the existence of marital rape, how do we expect to tackle the monstrosity that is marital abuse as a whole?

How long will we look at evident scars and brush aside any form of concern? Till when do we continue writing off physical and mental abuse as a domestic issue?


Perhaps, if we stopped creating dead ends for people like Farzeen – for they do exist, retreated within their silent corners of hopelessness and defeat – we could help them reclaim their right to simply exist without being subjected to abuse. Let us start with simply cracking holes in the log kya kaheinge mindset and acknowledge domestic violence to be as big of a problem as it truly is.


*Farzeen’s original name is kept private in order to ensure her security.

Cover image via:

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