My name is Rima and I came to Boston almost ten years ago with my husband. We began as international pen pals writing letters, but over time our friendship became a big love story. He came to Syria, my homeland, for our wedding. I was so excited to start our life together and to raise a family.
But once we arrived in the U.S., I realized that my new husband was not the man I had thought he was. I felt lonely in a country where I knew no one else and could not speak the language. But when I turned to him for comfort, my husband berated me and threatened to end the marriage by sending me back to Syria. He wanted to be the boss, and he began hitting me when he didn’t get his way.
Despite the abuse, I still loved my husband. I was overjoyed when our first son, Nabil, was born. I wanted my baby to have both a mother and a father together. The abuse escalated, though, and soon everything became a battle. My worried neighbors eventually called the police.
After the officers spoke to my husband, he began hitting me less—but he started using his tongue in place of his fists. In a way this was even worse, because I couldn’t fight back. Words dig into the heart and stay.
I couldn’t return to my family in Syria because of the ongoing violence there, and my husband controlled the family finances. It was hard to see a way out. Still, I tried to escape with my children to a shelter – not at Casa Myrna. But it was so far from Boston that I had no way to get to work or to the facility where my youngest son, Tariq, received treatment for a serious health condition. Out of options, we returned to my husband. Before we left, a shelter employee gave me the phone number for SafeLink, Casa Myrna’s domestic violence hotline.
The night I called SafeLink was a turning point. Thanks to supporters like you, this service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for any survivor who is ready to make the call. The staff there connected me with Casa Myrna’s Counseling Coordinator, Joanne. While still living with my husband, I began attending therapy. I felt as if I was circling around looking for a door out but I couldn’t find one. Joanne helped me to see that I was a strong person, and to remember that no one had the right to hurt me.
When I was ready, Joanne also helped me find the door I had been searching for. She connected me with Casa Myrna’s Housing Specialist, who helped me find safe, affordable housing, and Joselyn, the Self-Sufficiency Specialist, who helped me plan for our future.
The people at Casa Myrna do everything from the heart. The Housing Specialist didn’t have to attend my housing hearings, but she did, just to support me. Every time I ask for something, people are ready to help. They treat you as more than family.
My boys and I now live in our own apartment, and I’m attending school to become a dental hygienist. My children bring me joy every day and push me to be strong. My experience as a survivor has made me see how strong I am too. It is often hard to balance my classes and caring for Nabil, now 7, and Tariq, 4, on my own. But I feel like I’m just beginning my journey.
Student, Mother, and Survivor