It had been a year since we had come to Turkey. The girls were back in the house ,as the school shut down for the summer. Yavuz became more abusive,and the abuse kept escalating in stages,with each stage,becoming more drastic and horrific. The girls could not be obedient little Muslims as Miryem’s family suggested to us. How could they be;they needed to be normal little girls and to play and and be free as children, are suppose to be and have a right to be.
That summer we were all getting hit and abused more then before. That is the way abuse happens, often escalating. The girls were bored throughout the summer,as there was not much recreation for children in Islamic countries. Girls stay inside most of the time. Turkey is more advanced then other countries,but still children were taught to remain quiet and and girls are taught to spend a lot of time cleaning their homes at young ages and serving tea to adults and family.
Another school year would be beginning ,and I did not want my children to lose any more school. They had already lost a whole year:they only attended the Islamic school. My husband did not care about their education. He came from the viewpoint, that girls can marry and become housewives,and that this is their main role in life. Even though Muslim girls can be educated,it is often not taken seriously. Women’s primary role in Islam is to be a wife and mother. She is always under the guardianship of a man.
A lady I knew back in the states offered to take the kids, until I could get myself back to the states. It was foolish in a way to send them without myself,but at the time I felt inadequate. I had not finished my Bachelors degree. I felt I had no way to support my children. I might have been able to support the three of us ,but I was afraid I could not. After all the abuse, I felt useless and hated myself and blamed myself for all the abuse.
It was difficult economically in the states. The recession had hit in 2008 and life had changed. It was not as easy to get grants to finish the undergraduate degree, I had been working on. Although when one has the will and way ,I believe one can do anything to a certain degree. Our demeanor and attitude within is always within our control,even if at times are life circumstances are not. Most women would never be able to separate from their children. I had been burnt out a long time, on top of being abused. I was trauma-bonded to my husband and felt I could not survive without him. I had been trauma bonded all my life-first to my abusive parents and my step dad,and then in abusive relationships as well as in abusive friendships.
The summer I was busy concocting a plan to get the girls out safely without, Yavuz knowing. Even though my girls were not his daughters,he had already become possessive of them in a way that was unhealthy and bordering on incestuous. I had to get them out of there. Young girls are seen in Islam as sexual beings from the age of 8 or 9. Other Muslims in our town,told me to keep my girls there. They could be married,within a few years. Women friends would tell me not to worry about their education,as they explained being good Muslim girls was top priority and takes precedence over secular education. I was not able to get them enrolled in Turkey ,because we needed permission from their biological father. We could not locate him,but doing so would be unsafe, because he had been abusive.
My husband would often say”we can send them to my mother’s in her village, if we can not get permanent visas for them”. He did not take their schooling very serious. He would also say they could marry. He would tell them they had to be better at housecleaning, and that no man would marry them, with their lousy house cleaning skills. He had a completely different worldview of girls and women,which was abhorrent. He thought they were marriage age, once they reached their teenage years. His mother had tried to marry him off to young girls in the past. The village where he came from was even more back -ward then the city we lived in. Honor killings often happened in his city and he told me about them.
There were times when he became horrendously abusive,chasing us around the houses with knives terrifying us. He would scare the girls telling them, that if they did not behave and clean the house ,or were disobedient then he would have to cut their noses off,as was done to disobedient Muslim girls in his village. He would tell me that he was lying to them,and was just trying to deter them from bad behavior to warn them. He would laugh as he told me he was just trying to scare them. But I took it very seriously and was terrified he would hurt them. I started to hide knives;I was terrified of him for the girls and myself. The truth is that even though Yavuz said he was just trying to scare us;cutting off the noses of disobedient girls and women is a real punishment in Muslim cultures and did happen in the Muslim Community he was raised in and born into in Turkey.
This is often the plight of girls and women under Islam. Men have absolute power over women in Islam. Even though Turkey was a secular country ,honor killings happen often and men often are married to more then one wife illegally. Women are treated in a condescending way often in Turkey and men are valued highly. No one came to our our rescue, when we were being abused. No one would help us.
I began to disintegrate psychologically and emotionally. It was subtle and happened insidiously, and I did not recognize what was happening to me spiritually and psychically. I was in survivor mode. I felt enervated and I I already had many problems I had been coping with before with Ptsd-Trauma as well as being without healthy and supportive friends and relationships.
Because this woman and her husband offered to take my kids,it felt like the best solution. Her husband would take them for awhile,until I could get back myself or think through everything with clarity. I never would send my daughters to a man,but the lady I knew convinced me he was the perfect and most safe person who she trusted completely. I thought she was my friend,but I realize now we were not true close friends. We considered each other as friends. At that time she was one of my only contacts. I was always afraid of my girls being sexually abused,as I was as a child. I told them to tell me always if anything was wrong and anyone tried to abuse them. At that time I did not know what to do;it seemed like the only option available and we were vulnerable. I had to get the children out of there,away from Yavus and on to safer ground. Sometimes women who have been sexually abused,end up not listening to the signs of danger they feel within themselves,the cycle of abuse can then repeat itself with their own children. It does not happen with every abuse victim and some are able to stay in tune with their instincts and fiercley protect their children. But for me I was repeating the cycle of abuse and in a vulnerable position. I should have never sent my children to these people ,had I listened to my intuition.
Even though my children were not Yavuz’s children,we were warned not to tell him or anyone we knew that they were leaving. He still was a step dad to them and was possessive and abusive. Muslim men have a sense of the women and girls in their charge as possessions and belonging to them . They treat girls and women as property. My husband had a very unhealthy and abusive attachment to my children. He didn’t see them as people with their own feelings. He never considered their needs. Islam brings about narcissism in men. They are given priority in the religion, and given a strong sense of entitlement that creates unhealthy egotism and narcissism within the culture. It is prevalent everywhere,but deeply ingrained in the Muslim male mind.
I had some contacts in a larger city in Turkey ,who I had found through someone back in America. They would help me get the children to the airport safely and offered us a place to rest and relax before the girls would catch their flight. We had to make preparations quietly so as not to arouse the suspicions of Yavuz and any of our friends.
In the Muslim world women don’t take domestic abuse and violence as seriously. They are often on the man’s side and pressure one another to accept abuse or to appease the men in their lives….whether fathers,male relatives or husbands. Miryem’s family tried to convince us to make Yavuz happy, to hopefully alleviate the abuse. Of course it was not my girls and my fault for the abuse he perpetrated on us. But women are very misogynistic in the Muslim world,even towards them selves. They are trained that way from an early age
We had no one who was on our side,who we felt would or could protect us. The girls just wanted to be free again,and enjoy the natural freedoms they had taken for granted back in America. They even looked forward to the privilege of attending school again,having been out of school for one year. We were all apprehensive ,worrying about whether we could get them safely to the Airport,without Yavus finding out or trying to stop us.
Next – Part-2 Flight to Safety