From where I stand: “Any woman who faces violence like I did should ask for help”

After experiencing abuse at the hands of both her husband and her family, Akaber*, 42, was able to break free from violence and become financially independent to provide a better life for her children. As she recalls her experiences, she encourages other women in a similar situation to seek help.

Date: Thursday, November 18, 2021

Akaber, 42, is a survivor of domestic violence who received legal and psychological services through the Jordanian Women’s Union. Photo: Courtesy of JWU/ Sara Sumren.

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We were 5 sisters and 4 brothers. When my father left the country to remarry, I felt abandoned and unwanted. We were constantly moved from one house to the other. When I got married, I felt relieved. The first years of my marriage were peaceful. Then my husband started to drink and cheated on me. Despite that, I was still thinking that life with him was better than returning to my family. He divorced me but I had to go back to him because it was not acceptable for my family to have a divorced daughter living alone.

As he became more abusive towards me and our two sons, I started to fear for my life. There was one incident I recall vividly. It was 4am, my husband was under the influence of substance abuse. He threw a table at me, he chased me around the house and tried to choke me. I fell unconscious. When I recovered, I confronted him, but it made the situation worse as he turned his anger against my children. At that point I realized we were in danger and that there was no hope to make this situation with him better.

I ran back to my parents’ house, where I found no peace. My mother wanted to kick me out, my children turned to the street and my ex-husband would storm in threating us. I spent every day looking for work, until I found a job as a custodian at a school. Being able to provide for myself and my children gave me for the first time a sense of freedom and independence.

The new school principal became interested in my situation, and she referred me to the hotline of the Jordanian Women’s Union (JWU). I thought things would never change, but I was proven wrong. JWU gave me hope. They assigned me a lawyer and helped me to stand on my feet through psychological and financial support. I realized that change does not happen overnight, but it is possible. It is like a dream being able to feel safe here with my children.

My message to all those who cannot see hope is that there is a solution. Any woman who faces violence like I did should ask for help. JWU became my support system more than my family ever was and now I feel strong enough to overcome my fears.”

*Note: The name has been changed to protect the identity of the survivor.

Akaber, 42, is a Palestinian refugee, a mother of two boys and a survivor of domestic violence. She received legal, financial, and psycho-social support from JWU. As a result, she was able to find a job, obtain the full custody of her children, rent a house and start a new life. Under Jordan’s National Action Plan (JONAP) on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) on Women, Peace and Security, in 2021 UN Women and JWU assisted 9,090 survivors of gender-based violence through five safe spaces and one shelter across Jordan with the support of the Governments of Canada, Finland, Norway, Spain, and the United Kingdom.