I am a 32 year-old woman who was re-born six months ago. The life I had with my ex- husband ended when he tried to slit my throat with the kitchen knife. Since he brought me to this country he had prevented me from learning the language, learning how to drive, work or making friends. I lived in total isolation and he was the only person I knew for years. My neighbors were always a source of threat to him, so they became off limits for me. I am an engineer and an older sister to good young men, but I became a toddler when I became a wife. Every step I took, I had to search his face for approval, every thought I had made me feel guilty because he was not privy to it.

Stranded on a strange continent, with a strange language and a strange husband, I became a stranger to myself. At the beginning, I told myself that it will get better, that he will be sorry when he sees how good a wife I am to him. After all, that’s what my mother drove into me since I was a child: “Be his slave and he will become yours”. As time crept on, I thought maybe I was doing something wrong, maybe I deserve this treatment, or maybe I am just not good enough. I learned how to scream on the inside when he beat me, to watch TV with one eye when the other one became swollen, and I also learned how to do the house work with one hand when the other one was twisted out of shape. I was strong, resilient, creative... but I was also a victim of domestic violence.

The day my husband tried to end my life, I finally realized that I am worth fighting for and that I don’t deserve this kind of treatment; that no woman deserves this. I called 911, but I was more afraid of what is going to happen to me after they took him away. I was injured and alone with no means to support myself. At the police station, they shoved many papers in my hands including brochures to many organizations for support. I called every phone number listed until I finally left a message on the AADA hotline. That’s the day I was re-born.

AADA helped me move to a safer location, found me a part-time job, started me at a literacy school to learn English, helped me with my criminal case against my abuser, helped me obtain a divorce lawyer and guided me with my immigration procedures.

I can finally have a full night sleep now—I can breathe without pain. I still cry sometimes, but I also smile a lot and even laugh. I can make decisions about my future, I can have a future! They tell me that I am courageous because I reached out. I am safe and happy again and that’s all I ever wanted.
— Anonymous Survivor