Survivor Story – Number Four
My family are quite conservative and when they suspected I might be gay, they started saying they would find me a wife. I tried to say no and that I didn’t want or need this, but the more I refused the more they would insist and make it clear that I had no choice in this. They would force me. I was studying in the UK at the time, so I was away from home & out of the country so at least I knew they couldn’t get to me while I was here. But I knew if I went home I would be trapped. It made me very anxious.
I hadn’t been together with my boyfriend very long, but he started asking why I seemed so tense and preoccupied. When I told him about my family situation, he wanted to help. I was feeling very depressed at the time and he did so much for me. He really looked after me and told me he’d take care of everything. He cooked for me, made my appointments, dealt with the university. He said we should get married. That way I’d have a visa and could stay here, away from my family and be with him. It seemed like a good solution, and he was such a caring boyfriend who wanted to do everything for me. So I said yes.
He was screening my calls because my family had been calling me a lot. I was scared to tell them about the marriage or that I wasn’t going home. But when I got a new number, he kept wanting to be checking my phone, he was saying that it was to look out for me. I said I didn’t need him to do that anymore and he turned nasty, he started telling me that I shouldn’t have anything to hide from him. It turned in to our first big fight and he was screaming at me that I was hiding something and that I was unfaithful and going to leave him. It felt like it went on for ages. I was scared he was going to lash out and hurt me. Eventually he left the flat we were sharing and was gone for hours. When he finally came back he was so apologetic and upset with himself, he said he didn’t mean it, that he loved me and he just wanted me to be safe. He bought me flowers and took me out for dinner.
It was maybe a week after this that I woke up and found him in a total rage, waiting for me to wake up. He was shouting at me about how I was a liar, that if I didn’t want him I should go back home and let my family do what they want with me. I couldn’t figure out what he was talking about. Eventually, he told me he’d used my finger print to get into my phone while I was asleep and read my messages. He was angry because I’d sent my sister a message saying happy birthday. I was sort of shell shocked by his reaction. I was apologising to him a lot, he made me feel so guilty. He would say he’s forgiven me, but then he’d get angry with me again and start accusing me of planning to leave him or of going behind his back and disrespecting him. He’d say if I leave I’ll be deported and then I’ll see just what my family thinks of gays. It was a threat.
After every time he’d lose his temper, he’d remind me how much he’d done for me and how much was doing. I felt like I owed him everything, my life, my home, my place in this country. If I tried to argue, he’d get physical and start pushing me or breaking things in the flat.
It was like this for months. I tried all sorts of things to keep him calm, but nothing worked for long. At first, when I started asking for help, I just needed someone to listen and to tell me what was happening wasn’t ok. When I started saying I wanted to leave but couldn’t go back home, I found out there were protections for people on spousal visas. That opened a door for me, and I was able to start thinking about how life away from my ex could be better.