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Approximately 2 years ago, I met V. She had just started working at the company next door to mine. She is 9 years my senior and was married with a beautiful 6 year old daughter. Our offices shared the same cafeteria and we would bump into each other during lunch.
Our Platonic Relationship
I struck up a conversation with her one day and it wasn't long before we were doing daily lunches. Sometimes with our colleagues, sometimes just the two of us. We began chatting and hanging out all the time, sharing our interests and life experiences. We would laugh and talk about anything under the sun. We begin caring about each other deeply. It wasn’t long before I came to realise that V and I shared so much in common and we were drawn to each other. She had become my best friend!
A Better Person
I had truly never felt such a connection with anyone else. She has the most beautiful honest eyes. She has wit and class, a childlike heart, she’s kind and generous. Months into knowing V, I started discovering my self- worth, which was something I did not pay much attention to before. Without realizing , I was becoming a more patient and confident person. She taught me that true love begins with self love. It soon became clear to me, that she was becoming the most important person in my life. She was making me a better person.
After getting to know her I sensed that, deep down V was troubled. I began by inquiring about her husband. She did not seem comfortable divulging too much and I of course respected her privacy. One day, as I was walking to her car, I discovered that her vehicle road tax had expired. After making some calls, she confirmed that the vehicle insurance had not been renewed for 2 years. Naturally, I became enraged by the sheer irresponsibility and ignorance of V and her spouse, P. I began to question her about her husband and slowly over the next few days, she started opening up to me and spilled the harsh reality about her marriage. He is what you might call the typical uneducated Indian male chauvinist you hear about on the news. He had gaslighted her for years. This guy was an A class sociopath. She was physically and mentally abused over the years, to the point where she knew no better. He even got her into massive debts through bank loans she took under her name. She had even found out that her jewelry had been sold and replaced with fakes. He was living off his parents’ savings. Over the years, he had apparently tricked many of his friends(now ex friends) and relatives into financing his many ‘business’, which turned out to be fraudulent.
The Devil Called Fear
I was in shock that V was tied to such a cancerous life, and had actually been living like this for years. She was a different person every time she went back to that house. She was an outcast with her in-laws and did not exist to them. She had lost all her confidence and self - esteem from being manipulated, belittled and abused all those years. She had been living in fear. Her only reason for sticking around was her daughter, who had been growing up witnessing all this unhappiness from the beginning.
The Turning Point
I felt saddened, hurt and angered. I was determined to liberate V from that life. A couple of days later, she saw an intimate text on his phone from another woman. It was the final straw. She plucked up the courage, packed her bags and left with her daughter. She moved to her mum’s house. Over the span of 5 months from that point, V made arrangements for a mutual divorce, which P eventually agreed to. V and I became increasingly close and soon our platonic relationship turned into a romantic one. I attended V’s mum’s birthday party, met her siblings and their children. Just as I had connected with V, I connected with her family them instantly. I felt a sense of belonging there and I could tell they were happy I had met V. They knew what V was suffering with all these years and had tried talking her out of it. They tried convincing V to leave P, but she never budged until I showed up. V’s family were happy that I had managed to help her break free finally.
Now V stayed there with her daughter and her elderly mother. Word had reached P that I was now in the picture. P made a sudden appearance at V’s mom’s house one night, saying he wanted to straighten out things with her and the family. They were defenceless. P walked in straight into V’s room, shut the door and physically abused her. He left a while later, threatening the family that this would not be the last time he showed up unannounced. I advised her to get a police report done, which she did. Sadly, no action was taken as the police considered it to be a domestic dispute. The guilt killed me that night. Try as I may, I could not help but feel responsible for what has happened.
V was once again engulfed in fear. Some of her relatives had began turning sides, which made things increasingly stressful and difficult for V. She did not move fast enough in getting the divorce papers out, or a Personal Protection Order as she was considering her daughter’s happiness. She felt that her daughter father as well. Furthermore, P had disappeared for some time.
Perfectly Crafted Crime
It was the middle of the week and V’s mother and her daughter had gone abroad to visit V’s sister. V had to work and couldn’t go. Fearing another impending attack while she was alone, I suggested that she stay at one of her friend’s houses. She did not want to trouble anyone so after checking with two of her friends who weren’t around, she stopped asking. I invited her over to my place. My younger brother was staying with me at that point. While the three of us were having dinner at my apartment, I received a phone call informing me to proceed to the resident car park as my car alarm had gone off. I went down with V to check on the car only to be ambushed by 6 men, including P. I was immediately disabled. V and I were repeatedly punched, slapped and kicked. My phone was snatched and the contents of my phone was taken and shared amongst them. We were taken to the police station by the assailants and a police report was lodged against us by P. Before they left, threatened to kill me if I continued seeing V. We made our reports after. But the damage was already done.
There were no words to describe the immense guilt that I felt. I could not live with myself knowing what I’ve caused her. P was making us the headline everywhere, painting her as an adulterous wife and an unfit mother. P even got a court order and took V’s daughter to his parents’ house. V was unable to see her child for weeks. We were at our lowest points. V was even contemplating suicide. V and I had stopped communicating for almost 3 weeks, out of fear and anticipation of another attack. P called V up one day and said he could make it all go away. All she had to do was to return to his parents’ and apologised. V was determined this time however to not fall back into his trap. She refused to do as he had commanded as she had made up her mind to file for divorce and ultimately be awarded custody. I suggested that she sought help from Woman’s Aid, which she did in full hopes, only to be turned away and be redirected back to the police station to make more fruitless reports.
I felt so hopeless and I myself almost fell into depression. After much self-reflection and contemplation, it became apparent to me that I really only had 2 only options;
- Flee the entire scene and give myself a fresh start
- Stay, stand my ground and do all in my power to be there for V and ensure that she gets her daughter back
Lawyers and Courtrooms
The sociopath never cared for his daughter’s happiness. He only wanted to hurt V and he knew that the best way to do it was to take the child away from the mother. He also accused me of being the cause of their separation and unhappiness, claiming that they had a blissful marriage till I showed up. We were hopeful that we would receive a favourable verdict as we had a strong defense. We began researching and sought out the best suited lawyers in town for our case, which we eventually engaged. Unsurprisingly, it came with a huge price tag. I did not care. I was determined to get back what V had lost because of me. We pooled all our resources. We went through our entire life savings, took bank loans and got help from relatives and friends to fight the case. We threw all our cards on the table and placed full hopes in our lawyers. There seemed to be a ray of light, which was merely short lived. After some months had gone, V’s lawyer eventually advised her to give in to his demanded custody arrangements and settle for “unrestricted access on the weekends”, as the evidence gathered by the plaintiff was equivalent to a no cause fight.
Hopelessly Lost Again
She is the mother of a 6 year old child and we felt that custody should have rightfully been given to her. Nothing made sense anymore. The emotional and mental torture from P only got worse every time V called to speak to her child. The shame, guilt, pressure and fear intensified this time. V’s mother and sister were once again blinded by the fear and inevitability that they were going to lose their granddaughter and niece. They did not make things any easier for V. Sadly, none of them considered and understood the pain and loss V felt. She had lost all hope once again. At this point I felt reassured that I had made the right decision to stay by her side. There was nothing I could do but be a shoulder for her.
A Blessing in Disguise
I constantly kept conversations with her light in attempts to cheer her up. Sometimes it worked but it was always temporary. Once when I asked her how she was feeling about losing her daughter she would say “You don’t understand this! I refuse to wallow in my pain and loss. I can’t even stand looking at other kids when I am outside or even see them on TV. If by chance I do see something, the pain I feel doesn’t come from my heart. It’s more like a shooting pain coming from my lower abdomen”. Neither of us understood this till a few weeks later when she realised she was late and we went to the clinic. The picture on the ultrasound was of the face of a baby. Our baby. 5 weeks old it said. God has given us a blessing and this baby will know of nothing else but that of an undying and unconditional love.
The Fight Is Not Over
Everyone who knows V can testify that she is one of the sweetest humans and has an amazing depth of character, a problem like this is enough to send anyone off their orbit but she has remained incredibly strong and positive. She has been bullied, robbed, shamed, ridiculed and judged unfairly. No one deserves this. After 11 months, the police had finally gotten back to us and are taking action on the assault. We were advised that this could possibly alter the entire outcome of the case. Meanwhile, P is still in pursuit of 500,000$ from me. Till date we have taken 4 personal loans and have spent a cumulative amount of 140,000$ on just lawyers and there is more to come. Our credit scoring has crashed and we’re unable to take more loans. I wish I could be more transparent about this story but for legal reasons I cannot give more details as the case is still on-going. This essay started off as a way for me to pen my feelings and organize my thoughts. After reading this, a dear friend advised me to have this posted online. V is such a stunning human who deserves love and support from far and wide. Hence, I ask you to join me in solidarity to give this woman her life back.
Even 1 dollar would go a long way to lighten the burden! If you cannot donate, please pray for us and share. Don’t do it for me. Do it for her. Spread love and kindness. Thank you and God bless.
P.S. Everyone deserves a second chance
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