When to Walk Away
When Kahraman (*) married at the age of 16, she had every reason to be excited. For her, marriage held the promise of children, the adventure of leaving the family home, and an interesting new life with the man she loved. Perhaps most importantly, she expected to be treated like an adult; perhaps now she would be more able to speak her mind and have her opinions be respected and listened to.
After several years, Kahraman began to accept that the reality of the marriage she had been placed into didn’t match the dreams of her childhood. Kahraman found that she shared very little common ground with her husband, and they frequently didn’t understand one another. In times of conflict, Kahraman felt that she never came out on top. Although she had once looked forward to reaching adulthood, she now felt more powerless than ever and felt constant pressure to keep her opinion to herself and obey as commanded.
When Kahraman first joined in with JOHUD’s “Communication for Happy Families” project, she had hoped to learn more about the main topics under discussion, like family planning and good communication. However, the interactive sessions ended up digging into a range of issues. Kahraman begin walking away from each session with a growing sense of what she should expect from marriage and how her opinions should be listened to. She also learnt more about the potential damaging effects of marrying at an early age; not only could young brides suffer emotionally as their personal ambitions were set aside, but many also face physical problems in pregnancy.
Empowered by what she had learned in JOHUD’s sessions, Kahraman eventually made the brave decision to change her life. In response to further abuse, she recently left her husband, taking her two young children with her. At this moment in time, she feels she has made the best decision possible. She is now able to live a normal life with her children without the constant threat of abuse and domineering behaviour from her ex-husband. Most importantly, Kahraman has managed to shed the feeling of powerlessness that characterised much of her married life, helping her to become a stronger person and mother than she would otherwise have become.
(*) All names have been changed to protect the family’s confidentiality