Helping Hand

P323                                                    

 A survivor’s story 

 

             I was in America less than three years and was filling up the pages in my diary with my secret tortured life. At the age of thirty-five, I left my own business in India and came here to join this new family with many dreams. But in this house I was treated as a slave. I was expected to serve my husband, mother-in-law and teenaged stepson with the preset rules of when, where, how and which way.  I kept on doing all that happily, from 5am to 10pm, with the longing that my husband show some care for me. I was called stupid because my English was not good, but I was humble. I was not allowed to know anything about household finances or his income. I was giving him all my earnings and in return I was given a small allowance.  The verbal abuse was constant from husband and mother-in-law. My diary was soaked with my lonely tears.

   

            The only people I knew were my husband’s friends and relatives. Whom can I tell, and who will believe me?  I cannot write to my family in India because my in-laws were extremely sensitive about their reputation in society. My husband moved out of our bedroom and told lies to his mother and to our so-called friends. He and his mother started telling me to “pack your bag and get lost.”  They wanted me to leave penniless and humiliated so they could look good in society. He threatened me with legal consequences.

 

          Finally, I mustered up my courage and talked to one of his friends, who was a domestic violence volunteer. First, I told her very little and waited for her reaction. After a few days I felt that I could trust her. Once I had her support, my self-confidence and strength slowly came back. I had to relearn to be strong. My advocate was my lifesaver. I no longer felt helpless. The Organization helped me with the lawyer’s fees, and my advocate spent countless hours with me and accompanied me through the legal and emotional web. I moved out of that house with a good settlement, with good friends, and with dignity. I cannot imagine where I would have been without their help. My mentor expressed my feelings in a poem…

 

A Survivor

                  

————- 

 

 

  Working with victims of domestic violence, poems like this have been written.

                                                                       Saryu Parikh

 

img_0649

                Painting By:Dilip Parikh    

 

        helping hand

 

sis, I accepted strangers as my own

my heart was full of hopes and dreams

I came trusting the thread of love

I enjoyed the bliss of marriage

 
He was the center of my universe

he was staying in my inner-most trust

he was the purpose of my breath

now miserable cry in my sigh

 
that tender string broke in the midst

couldn’t mend it with  all  the  effort

he cut it with jerks, left me sad and helpless

now all alone, who’s support will I have?

 
let the tears flow today due to the sudden burn

but my soul lamp is shining with inner strength

promise, I will find my lost self-respect

with the help of your sweet smile, o’sis

with the help of your sweet smile 

 

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