Forged In Fire: IWB Brings To You The Powerful Story Of ‘The Broken Bride’
- IWB Post
- July 8, 2019
Marzana Rahman or, as you might know her, The Broken Bride is a fine example of the classic saying “the hotter the fire, the stronger the steel”.
Marzana learned to hate herself for being “beautifully cursed” while growing up. Before she could learn to embrace herself as the beautiful woman she was, life pulled her further down as she went through a broken marriage at the young age of 18. That left her dreading the stigma of being a divorcee and living through it for years to come as she turned into a glass jar waiting for the final blow to break into pieces.
She gradually learned to be independent and married the love of her life, but sadly what followed was nine months of physical and mental abuse at the hands of the man whom she thought would protect her for life. She lost all her confidence and got to the verge of ending her life, which she even made a failed attempt at.
My name is Marzana Rahman. I am a domestic violence survivor. I am telling my story to break the ignorance of people. To speak of the unspoken and to be The Voice of the Voiceless Follow my journey: www.marzanarahman.com Instagram: www.instagram.com/marzana.rahman Twitter: www.twitter.com/marzanarahman_ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marzana.rahman.7982
But things changed as she decided to speak up and rebuild herself. She filled her cracks with love and life as she gradually learned to stop looking at her brokenness as a flaw and channelized it towards her campaign to teach others to speak up like she did. She forged herself in the fire that had been hitherto burning her and emerged out stronger and better than ever.
Excerpt from an interview:
What was the point when you decided that you have had enough and this needs to stop?
I had various different moments. It’s like I went back and forth. Though the final straw came on March 12 when my brother-in-law punched me. My father was taken to the cell and it broke me as a person. That is when I realized that I need to speak and I need to speak the truth.
Despite all the hurt, deceit, and abuse, what made you believe in that relationship?
As an Asian woman, I grew up in a culture where I wanted to be the perfect wife and I also dreaded the label of a divorcee. So I had to bite the bullet. Our culture embeds it in us where we want to be seen as the perfect wives.
In Asian communities, a woman doesn’t marry just the husband but the entire family, all of whom have their own set of expectations from her. What do you think should a woman do to stand for her choices and rights in this setup?
I think the time has arrived when we should put our expectations on the table. The husbands paint such rosy pictures for the bride before the marriage but the reality turns out to be entirely different many a time. This again is culturally embedded in us to accept our fate and let the abuse happen once we are married and this is completely wrong. We should speak up instead, value ourselves and ask to be valued and respected.
Does it have to do a little with our cultural upbringing as well?
Of course. Women are conditioned to please other people, first it is the parents and then it is the partner. You strive to please someone else when it should be you who deserves it the most. I strongly believe that it’s okay to be a little selfish in order to respect yourself.
I read that your mother-in-law gave you a rather difficult time. What do you think is the psychology with which some women find it okay to harass their daughters-in-law for no reason?
I would be completely honest. These women are themselves abused. While normally you’d think that someone who has been through abuse wouldn’t do it to others but shockingly some of them think like since I have been through it, I will put her through it too. It is a vicious cycle and the sad and sick reality of our culture. Those who go through it firsthand are the ones inflicting this pain on others. They feel like that’s the only way to feel powerful.
Do you think that it is the upbringing of boys that somehow turns some of them into harassers and abusers?
Not enough women speak against the abuse and that is why they think that they can get away with it. They are made to believe that there would be no consequences for their abusive actions towards their wives as it is their responsibility as dutiful wives to keep the dark parts of their marriage concealed.
And ours is a beautiful culture and we can’t go about blaming it. It is how we have adapted it and also the wrong mentality has its roots in the bringing up. Mothers would do everything for the boys, give them food in the bed and do their laundry and it is because their mothers do it for them that they expect their wives to do it too. What they need to understand is that their wives are not slaves.
What should be done instead?
I remember how my parents would pull up my brothers when they were growing up. They had to do all their chores, including cooking and cleaning. But when I got married I witnessed something drastically different. I was supposed to do everything for my husband which I did because I wanted to be the “perfect wife.” All mothers need to realize that they shouldn’t smother their boys so much because no good comes out of it.
Tell me about your recovery phase. What measures did you take to regain your confidence and inculcate self-love?
I was blessed to have a very strong support system. My dad, who calls me a lioness, encouraged and supported me. He did not care about what the society thought and told me that I was really young and had a long life to take care of.
-The first step that I took was that I got back to the city and got a job.
-Secondly, I made myself so busy that I forget about my past. I did lots of new things like skydiving, traveling, photography and of course modeling.
-I even got a personal trainer and I emerged out as an entirely different person after healing.
It was after I started my job that the biggest push came. I have not shared it with anyone yet. I had to go through a life-threatening surgery and my doctor warned me that I might even potentially lose my ovaries. But I somehow survived the six-hour long surgery. The two-week long bed rest that followed made me wonder while once I almost killed myself during my bad time, right when I was learning to love myself my life was almost taken away from me. I realized that there must be a reason behind it and I decided to come out with my story. I started working out and doing everything that made me happy.
After I healed that is when I decided that I need to give this back. I reconnected with people and started sharing my story to help them. The experience of helping out broken people like me was very motivating and empowering. It made me realize that once a woman decides to change her life she can blossom and I also started appreciating who I was.
Let’s talk about ownership of our bodies now. Share with me how has the concept of your own beauty and body changed or evolved over time?
Oh, this is such a touching subject. When I was growing up I started hating myself because whenever we went to some event people would ask my dad questions like when was he going to get me married. My mom constantly tried to hide me behind a dupatta or a hijab to protect me.
All this made me think that people will never like me for who I was. This is why I use the term “beautifully cursed” because I couldn’t’ really embrace it. It was during my healing process that I started to embrace myself as I was. Earlier I used to find it difficult to take compliments but I gradually realized that it’s okay if people find my smile enchanting and I started looking at what I had as God’s gift to me.
How did the change happen?
One day my personal trainer made me stand in front of a mirror and asked to look at my reflection as my fifteen-year-old self. She said Look at her and think how mean you have been to this child. It broke my heart to think that I made her feel ugly all this time. A lot of us are too hard upon ourselves and we need to realize that all of us are beautiful in our own way and we need to stop bringing ourselves down.
Can you state some of the clear signs of emotional abuse to help women decode the problem at initial stages?
My definition of emotional abuse is someone being incredibly evil to the other person for no reason. It is very demoralizing and it makes you feel like you are unworthy. I think emotional abuse is greater than physical abuse and nobody has the right to do that to anyone and if this is how you are made to feel then the wise thing to do is to immediately walk away.
If you see someone tolerating the same kind of abuse just like you did, what would you say to them and ask them to do?
I’d say that you’re not alone. I have been through it and if you raise a voice than there are hope and light at the end of the tunnel. I will hold their hand and say, as I have been reiterating, it’s not a problem even it makes you feel selfish. It’s not wrong to stand up and it is going to be okay.
Is there anything that you want all the women to know about domestic abuse?
It happens more than they know, a bit too often and a bit too much. There is no shame in seeking help and you should call the police and it’s okay even if that makes you feel a little selfish. I came across a study that said that 1 in 4 women face domestic violence. It shocked me but it also made me think that I wasn’t a part of this study, the people I am trying to help were not a part of this story, and perhaps the actual figures might be even more shocking than that.
What impact do you aim to make through the “Broken-Bride Campaign”? How do you aim to take it forward?
I want domestic violence to be deemed as wrong as racism is considered today. There was a time when racism was looked at as an okay thing. Then came Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and brought the injustice of the practice to light. Similarly, I want many people like me to come forward against domestic violence and put an end to it. I know it will take time but it will certainly happen.
Can you think of one good thing that happened out of this chaos?
I was able to find myself and connect with some really beautiful people. For all that I have achieved and all the love that I have received, I will happily go through it a hundred times over.
Video Courtesy: Studio Motions
First published on Mar 8, 2018.