Immediately out of school, I got the news from the doctor that no teenager ever wants to hear. It was confirmed that I was pregnant and in order to save my parent’s face and reputation, I made the decision to get married as many young Hmong girls would have when faced with this situation. I should’ve known what I was getting myself into.
The abuse started while we were still dating, but overtime it escalated to more violent scenes with mentally controlling my every move. Somehow I believed that it would all change and work out once our child was born. It didn’t and I continued to let myself think that since got into this mess, I should be able to fix or deal with it. I truly felt that everyone had a path laid out for them, I just happened to be given this one.
The many nights I prayed asking,
“Why can’t he see that I only want what’s best for us, why can’t he see me as a person, why can’t he just love me?”
Officially turned into nights of crying to correct myself and reasoning telling myself…
“I should’ve tried harder today, I shouldn’t of did that, I could’ve did it this way…for him.”
This monster, devoted to religion that prayed before every meal, the son of a pastor, physically and emotionally broke me to be in total control. He believed the world revolved around him and he was superior to all. His egotistic, anti-feminist up bringing was the norm for his family. He left bruises and scars where they couldn’t be seen. I’ve been stripped of clothing, dragged outside, thrown down stairs, pushed, punched, slapped, pulled, you name it. One night, I didn’t think I would live to the next morning to see my child as I laid in the bed as he cranked on my head trying to snap it off. My strength was nothing compared to his and not being able to move, I prayed and said my goodbyes.
Events played out in front of family and friends and sadly in front of children. It took some time for me to realize that it just wasn’t me in this situation, but mostly all that witnessed my shattered life in front of them were going through their own situation. They’ve become scared to get involved and children went away to hide when it happened. I was damaged and again stayed for my child’s life.
I tried my best to better myself so we could have a decent income and took up classes at the community college for nursing. One night in class during the Psychology course, the instructor was lecturing about Battered Person Syndrome. I took a deep breath and had to come to my senses that he was talking about me. Over and over I stayed for my child, but in the end I had to leave…for my child. Ten years it took me to find courage to end the marriage.
So here I am, the statistic of the Hmong term for a divorcee, “poj nrauj”. A failed Hmong wife, divorced, single mother, and no more “clan” to belong to, no more family to bury your head when you die. If only I knew life had so much to offer, living life with love existed, and believed in change for our culture, I would’ve fought against the strength that kept making me stay. The best decision I’ve ever made…was to be another statistic and I’m loving it!