I am Inas from Al-Hawija

17 augustus 2020

I remember what happened to me as if it was yesterday.

I was raised in a home riddled with problems. My childhood memories are of my father beating my mother, insulting her and forcing her to work along with my brothers, so he could take their money and spend it as he wished. My mother wanted to separate from him, but she sacrificed herself for us, because her parents wouldn’t let her bring us with her back into their home because we were the children of that man. She bore this situation for our good, and because our customs and traditions do not allow a woman to separate from her husband.

The scenario my mother lived repeated itself with me.

My father would not let me study to become a lawyer. He deprived me of my right to achieve many dreams, and got angry every time I asked him about my education. My experiences made me hate the idea of men and marriage. When I turned twelve, my cousin asked me to marry him several times, but I refused since he was already married and had kids. I even threatened to commit suicide, but my father insisted. He only stopped when my mother threatened to stop working, since he was financially dependent on her. My cousin started following me wherever I went, and harassing me whenever he had the chance. He used to touch sensitive areas of my body, and threatened to rape me if I told my parents. So I remained silent. Not only that, but he also said that he would marry me, in spite of my refusal, not because he loved me but because I rejected him. This situation carried on until the rise of ISIS, which turned my life around.

My father refused to leave Al-Hawija, because he was a supporter of ISIS. One day, a group of ISIS members broke into our house, among them my cousin who had joined the group. My cousin took me away by force, full of revenge and hatred. He took me to an abandoned house where he brutally raped me for two hours and without mercy. He threw me on the floor and tore my clothes. He raped me several times just to make sure that my hymen was broken. I cried and screamed in pain, but he did not stop raping me until I lost consciousness. I suffered from severe bleeding which led to uterine ruptures. My cousin threw me into the street like a dead body where my mother found me. My mental health got worse. My behavior became hostile and I started attacking every man I saw.

I stayed at my mother’s house for two years, and things got worse every day. ISIS members came back again, and wanted me to marry one of them. I refused because I could not face being raped once again. I just wished I could die, so I tried to kill myself, but I did not die. I was permanently disfigured, and my mental and physical health deteriorated even further. Despite all that, ISIS members forced me to get married. I refused to be touched by my husband on our wedding night, but he forced me to have sex with him. I was already suffering from uterine rupture because of the previous rape, so I suffered a lot and bled severely. The same thing happened over and over again, every day, until I got pregnant. I had a miscarriage due to the frequent beatings. I tried to commit suicide once again by slitting my wrist but my husband saved me. Despite my deteriorating mental and physical health, he never took into account my difficult situation and insisted on having sex with me.

My mom made a deal with someone to help us escape. My husband was supposed be out that day but he came back, so I could not escape and didn’t know what happened to my mother. My father joined ISIS and got married again, just a week after my mother left, to a much younger girl and against her will. The turning point in my life was when I found out my husband was dead. I was thrilled. But the same day they forced me to get married again, and I was raped once again. My mother-in-law treated me kindly as she was against her son joining ISIS, but she could not do much. She promised to help me escape, and managed to do so after two months. I reached Kirkuk Governorate three days later. As soon as I got there, I contacted my mother’s family and they came to pick me up and bring me to where they were staying.

They wanted me to forget everything I went through and start a new life, but I had a hard time doing so. Between tranquilizers and the society’s judgements, the months passed painfully. As time went on, and with the support of my family, I began to feel better. After a while, a man who was much older and had kids asked me to marry him. He knew of my situation but despite that, we got along. He treated me well and with sympathy. We had a promising marriage. But one month later, my previous life flashed back at me. I would hit my husband whenever he tried to come near me, and after I gave birth to my daughter, I couldn’t hug her because of my poor mental health. Sometimes, I feared that she would go through the same misery I lived.

My husband is a gift sent from heaven. He treats me with kindness and love, but the many traumas I have faced stand between him and me. There is nothing I can do.

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