Forced Marriage: A Survivor’s Story


If you think that suicide is selfish, then you’ve obviously never been suicidal. I still remember the night I tried to commit suicide as if it was yesterday.


I used to self-harm by cutting myself but yet, when it came to ending my life, I just couldn’t do it.


What drives a person to want to kill themselves? What makes a person believe that they have no other option? That they feel they are worthless, not valued, not loved? That they are nothing?


I was given an ultimatum by my mum. Being given that ultimatum made me realise that the only choices I had were to have a shit life or a shitter life. It made me realise that no-one was going to defend or save me, especially not my family.


So I went home, closed the door on the world and tried to end my life. I believed that having no life was better than having this life. I left home when I was 18. It wasn’t the “done thing” for a Pakistani Muslim girl. Except I didn’t see myself that way. I saw myself as a British girl, born and bred in the UK, with a split personality. The real me, and the me when I was at home having my life planned out for me.


My family didn’t handle me leaving very well and, after 3 months of emotional blackmail, I eventually returned home depressed and exhausted. A few weeks later, I agreed to go on holiday to Pakistan with my dad and brother to visit my grandparents. Whilst I was out there, I discovered what my punishment was to be for leaving home…


The next couple of weeks passed by in a daze. The reality of the situation didn’t hit me until it was too late.


He sat down on the bed next to me. I asked if we could talk and get to know each other. He laughed at me and forced himself on top of me. He started kissing me and pulling my clothes off – whilst I lay there frozen, letting him rape me. This was my “wedding night?”


Growing up, I wasn’t even allowed to talk to boys and now my family had put me in this predicament. I was in a foreign country where I knew no one and I could barely speak the language. I was trapped.


Over the next few years, I was subjected to emotional and physical abuse by my “husband”. Following yet another argument in which he told my parents that he didn’t want to “keep me anymore”, my mum said to me: “Beg him to forgive you and take you back, or you can get the divorce you’ve wanted. But, because you’re damaged goods, no-one else will want you except an older widower who just needs looking after.”


No-one commits suicide because they want to die. They just want the pain to stop and want to be saved. I was lucky because, when I was trying to end my life, somebody saved me.


*Ayesha is a UK-based survivor of forced marriage, and on Karma Nirvana’s Survivor Ambassador Panel