Living in Hell

Him: ‘Go to hell!’ – While hitting my face…

Me: Screaming – ‘I am already in hell!!!!”

My name is Catharina (obviously not my real name for security reasons). I am Lebanese and I live in a quite fancy environment, with everything one can imagine possessing – mansion, maids, gardener, driver, luxurious cars, yacht …

I come from a modest family, with seven brothers and sisters living in the same room and eating meat once per month. Fortunately, I had a pretty face, and I learned how to seduce men and climb the social classes’ stairs.

I met Tarek, 45 when I was only 20. He kept on buying me clothes and jewelry, and we travelled a lot. I was the quiet type of person, accepting everything he asked for. I couldn’t believe my luck, going out with such a handsome, rich and what seemed to be a wise, gentle, caring person. I was young and believed everything he said, I had never been in a proper relationship before and I fell for him completely. We even married against his parents’ will. Tarek was my prince, my savior! And I was his Cinderella.

We partied for a while, stretching our honeymoon to several months. And I got pregnant… First, he was excited, but when I got tired of going out every night, he got mad. He started yelling, and hitting…  Once he back-handed me round the face and grabbed my throat throwing me off the bed onto the floor. Fortunately, my baby was safe. I used to ask him why he slapped me, strangled me, punching me, pushing me around, and disrespecting me, even in front of his friends, saying out loud ‘She is a whore, she married me for my money’, ‘She is fat and useless’, ‘I need to get out and f*** because she makes me sick’, ‘She only spends but does not produce’, ‘Why is she complaining? She has everything but she is a lazy person’ … His answer: ‘You deserve it! It’s your fault’!

I didn’t know what to do. I tried to contact a lawyer but he knew what I was doing – he had spies following me. I tried to talk with my friends, but they disappeared – Tarek was perceived as a gentleman, and my so-called ‘friends’ were his friends’ wives, his circle, his ‘sect’! My family could not help – poor, conservative and helpless. I was afraid he would take away my child. I tried to work, thinking I could become independent, but he knew – he has powerful connections everywhere – and called my boss. I lost my job, instantly. I began taking pills, all kinds of pills, just to forget my pain, but it didn’t help. I was drowning in an ocean of physical and emotional abuse. He managed to isolate me from everybody. From then, it was accusation after accusation. He isolated me further by sleeping with various so-called friends. I was stuck between the person I loved and the person that changed so much. I prayed, visiting churches and mosques, I prayed to all saints and prophets, but it didn’t work. I hoped that he would realize one day what he was doing and would stop, but it didn’t work. The more I agreed to his terms, the more he was violent. And If I tried to say ‘No’, he was also violent. I tried to commit suicide, and I failed… and he took away my child…

I realize now that I am writing while using the past tense, but my situation hasn’t changed. I came across your blog, I read almost all the articles, and I read so many testimonies of abused women. It encouraged me to write, to tell my story, to break the silence… I live in a prison, and I will die in that prison, unless I escape. How? When?  I still don’t know. I refuse to be a victim but I am not able to escape, not yet… The only thing I know is that I am capable of writing those few words. I still have a brain that functions. I hope you will publish my story and share it. I want others to know they are not alone and I need to feel I am not alone. Nothing is as it seems… Domestic violence does not only occur in poor environments.

We do live in a country where violence has become the norm, as well as appearances and the glitter of fake people, the shiny bitter hypocrisy; where rich and powerful men control everything, everyone, and poor bastards are not able to change anything about it; where those men and their mafias control the police, judges, and clergymen; where many women sell their bodies and souls to the highest bidders…

How will I be able to survive this hell? I don’t know… But I know I refuse to let him break me, there is still a tiny light of hope inside me, I will move on one day and he will remain in the gutter where he belongs…


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  1. You are not alone Catharina…
    I heard your voice, i read your words…
    I pray for you and i am certain you will be able to be free.

  2. Don’t lose hope Catharina. and thank you for your testimony.
    Domestic violence is found everywhere, not only in Lebanon.
    But there are always ways to escape it, to fight it.

  3. Catharina, i found myself in the same situation, but not married to a rich guy. Can you contact an embassy and try to get a visa? I know you fear for your child, but maybe Canadians can help you for example.
    What about Lebanese organizations such as KAFA?

  4. There are people following me all the time. Hard to contact embassies. Dr. Chrabieh suggested KAFA. I will think about it.
    Thank you for your concern. Thank you for reading.

  5. Thank you for sharing Catharina and hope you keep writing despite your circumstances, and I wish you all success in overcoming them when the opportunity presents.
    Prepare for the opportunity, maybe it will maybe it wont, but with nothing to lose there is no harm trying.
    Wise as a serpent, gentle as a dove.
    Sometimes all you can do is smile, make him breakfast everyday, keep getting smacked around till you have squirelled enough away to vanish into thin air like a ghost.
    Issues of control, violence and twisted psychologies .are abundant and are so common its become acceptable and the caption is so true, its happening around us all the time. Financial dependence can be so difficult to avoid and sometimes men will act like they dont mind her working, slowly, slowly taking it away before her eyes.

  6. Courage Catharina. Plusieurs d’entre nous vivons en enfer. l’enfer domestique, et l’enfer du pays.
    Oui il y a de l’espoir, si ce n’est pas pour ce pays pour le moment, du moins pour ton cas.
    N’hésite pas à demander de l’aide.
    Je connais l’histoire d’une femme en Arabie Saoudite qui se faisait suivre mais qui a pu concocter son évasion pendant un an et aujourd’hui elle est libre, vivant ailleurs.
    Tout est possible, même dans les situations les plus difficiles, et le suicide est certainement pas la solution.

  7. Hello Catharina, i read your story and i shared it with my friends. Thank you for your courage and strength. So many battered women and emotionally abused women were able to escape their oppressors. You will be able too. You just have to believe in yourself. and writing your story is indeed a first step to rebuild yourself.

  8. Don’t give up Catharina. You are not alone. I was living in hell and what seemed impossible then occured with time and patience and courage: freedom!

  9. Can’t thank you enough for your kind support. I will try to write more.
    And thank you Dr. Chrabieh for this opportunity.

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