‘I got so used to it that I forgot that it hurts; that it’s not normal’

“Before I was married, I couldn’t have imagined I was capable of tolerating as much abuse as I did,” shared Batul Moradi, 36.

Moradi is a writer and a survivor of domestic abuse who struggled for years to escape an abusive marriage in Afghanistan.

“It’s so strange how common it is in this society, that it has become normal. I got so used to it that I forgot that it hurts; that it’s not normal,” she recalled.

In a deeply conservative society like Afghanistan, stories of women caught in domestic abuse are far too many, and considered, even by those affected, as a way of life. As abhorred the idea of divorce is by men and women, abuse is rarely an acceptable as grounds for separation, even within a legal structure. Moradi realized this first hand.

She was born and raised as an Afghan refugee in Iran. Her family had fled the Soviet invasion in the late ’70s. It would be over two decades before she set foot in her country. Educated and with larger than life aspirations, Moradi returned to Kabul in 2003, two years after the fall of the Taliban regime.

“I started work at publication called Seda-e-Mardom (People’s Voice) where I first met my future husband; he was a well-known writer, popular in Afghan elite circles,” she recalled. Enamoured by his charms, intellect and drive, Moradi agreed to marry him the same year.

It wasn’t long after the wedding that things began to change.

“It started with small things at first; my husband would read my diary, my writings; he wanted to know who I met with,” Moradi recalled. She says she initially found his jealousy endearing. “I thought that he behaved protective since he was in love with me.” But then the restrictions came. “He wouldn’t allow me to meet my friends; even my emails were monitored,” Moradi said. The pattern of control eventually turned brutish.

 

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