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Urgent - what should I do? - Page 2

post #31 of 49
Thread Starter 
I was hoping for the best, and expecting the worst. At the moment I could just scream. Rascha's father brought her home over the weekend, and she's in the hospital here, getting physical therapy. She'll probably be in there at least another week. Her parents, particularly her mother, promised to help her get a divorce. My colleague and I went to visit her again today, and now her parents have made arrangements for her husband to come and get her when she's due to be released! She didn't press charges against him (or her parents), although forced marriages, marital rape and wife (and child) beating are all illegal here. She refuses to break off contact with her family, which is the only way we can get her some help. She's in very bad shape both physically and emotionally (so bad that she won't be able to graduate in July). Our impression is that she is probably suicidal. The therapists in the hospital aren't getting through to her either, apparently, judging by the nurses' guarded remarks. Rascha called her eldest uncle in Lebanon, who is the family patriarch. He told her she could come and stay with him, and she keeps asking if she should. M. and I told her no way - the uncle was the one who got this whole arrangement between the families started, and she won't have any rights back in Lebanon, from what I've read. If she goes there, her husband is sure to just come and get her. Just to top everything off, somebody is calling here zig times a day and hanging up. Since that started last Thursday, I have a pretty good idea that it's either her parents or husband. How do I get this kid to take the help offered her? She seems to have no will left.
post #32 of 49
Agreed. No way she should go back to Lebanon. There the marriage would be legal. In Europe we can take such a marriage into court and allege it's invalid because it was forced.

Let me see if I get this straight... The parents promised to help her get a divorce, and are arranging to have her sent back to Belgium once she is released? My question is this: Did they say they would help just to get the pressure off their backs and do the opposite, or are they going to help but keep her with hubby until the divorce takes place? Either way, it isn't very helpful.

This is getting worser by the minute. Because right now, the biggest obstacle is Rascha herself, and her deep depression.

Jcat, I don't like what I am saying, but the only suggestion I can give you is this: Someone who is in her state can be easily manipulated like if it was molding clay. And, I am afraid that in this case she is falling under that same spell of both the parents and the hubby. You can try to be blunt, and at the same time give her some hope. Since it seems to me that many of her reasons for not cutting off with the family is the other siblings, you can try to convince her that the cutting contact with her sisters is temporary. That when the time is right she may contact them again. But not the parents, if you know what I mean. You can also try to be somewhat blunt in the sense of telling her the truth of how she could have been killed (which she must know already) that if she goes back to the marriage she may not survive a few years more. Because, in her case it's almost a decision of life or death.

Also, she may fear what might happen to her with the idea of living alone in a big city of a foreign country. Tell her that she will have support from the "Rosa e.V." guys there.

In other words, see what are the reasons for her refusing, and then address those reasons specifically.

PS: See if you can get yourself a caller ID and see who on earth is the caller. He may be related, or just a prank, but it's worth finding out.
post #33 of 49
Thread Starter 
I don't think her parents have or had any intention of helping her - a divorce would be too much of a "disgrace" (so what about a suicide or homicide?) Rascha is so "conditioned" to being under her parents' thumb that she can't seem to make any decisions for herself. I've tried the drastic approach, i.e., I spent hours on the Internet finding and printing out horror stories about forced marriages, honor crimes, wife beaters, etc., plus stories of girls who were helped and started new lives, including one who re-established contact with her mother and siblings. Also accounts of women who have been helped in shelters. Today another teacher and five classmates went to talk to her - no go, though by all accounts their arguments were pretty convincing. Her two brothers (17 and 14) are taking the parents' part. Her 17-year-old brother had the nerve to tell me that his sister is at fault because she didn't try to please her husband!!!! I felt like smacking him.
The phone company traced the calls to her husband's cell phone, so our home phone and my cell phone are set to block any calls from that number or his home and work numbers, which information kindly provided.
This whole situation seems so hopeless.
post #34 of 49
What a horrific story. I've been "lurking" and reading these posts since they started, but hadn't posted until now because arranged marriage is not an area I know anything about.

Unfortunately, I do know that you can offer someone all the help in the world and if they won't take it, there is nothing you can do. You have gone above and beyond for this poor girl. If she chooses to do nothing, you have to let her go. You have given her all the information. She knows what her choices are. It is a sad situation that she is so "brainwashed" by her parents and her culture that she cannot see her way out, even when it is offered to her. It is also incredible to me that any parent would send their child back to a man who almost killed her.

I send her my prayers and hope that she changes her mind, but if not, you can't force her to do something, even if it is the right thing.

Both you and she are in my thoughts.
post #35 of 49
After living this life for 6 yrs, I know a little about where her head is at. And right now, its "her fault"...she wasn't the wife she should have been. "Its my fault he got so angry" "I didnt do ______ right"...fill in the blanks with anything from cooking to breathing.
I hid it all under alot of makeup and baggy clothes and let no one touch or hug me cause they might hit one of the bruises accidentally. But I always defended him. After all, he told me he loved me all the time! He was a good provider. He was under alot of stress at work. I was too much of a nag and perfectionist. Etc Etc Etc.

Rascha needs to meet someone face-to-face that went thru this. See if the hospital can arrange it, or have one of the teachers bring someone with them next time they go visit.

One thing that might hit home with she willing to see her daughter like this in 20 yrs? Or see her daughter like this in 10 yrs cause spouse beaters often are child beaters too.

post #36 of 49
Thread Starter 
Sandy, thanks for the insights. One of her classmates immediately zeroed in on what fate Rascha would be condemning her own daughters to, and that her parents wouldn't be around forever, but at this point she isn't even thinking of the distant future. Rascha isn't making any excuses for her husband (she barely knows him, let alone ever loved him). It seems to me that she wants somebody to wave a magic wand and make everything okay, which obviously isn't going to happen.
She asked me for help, so she must have some will of her own deep down inside, but I'm stumped now. The organization I mentioned above, Rosa e.V., had women who went through the same thing talk to her. I've told her about other former students who were in similar situations, and also about my sister (victim of a vicious batterer for 10 years - believe me, I've done a lot of reading on battered wives).
Sorry if I'm using this forum to vent - my husband can't hear this any more, and my nightmares keep waking him up. My students are my "kids", so I have to try to help.
post #37 of 49
You can add me to the list of those who are having troubles sleeping with this. I am halfway around the world and all I know of her is what you've told me, but I am still worried sick. Can't start to imagine how must be for you.
post #38 of 49
jcat, I've been following this thread since the beginning and I just wanted you to know that I'm thinking of Rascha and praying she stays safe. She has all the information, choice and power she needs now even though she feels too broken at the momnet to use it. I hope she gathers up that last bit of strength to do what she must know, deep down, is right.

Please take care of yourself, it is awful that you're having constant nightmares about this.

We're all here for you.
post #39 of 49
Thread Starter 
I'm seriously wondering who is nuttier - my mom or I. She called me for an update this evening, and when I told her I was afraid that Rascha was suicidal, her response was to ask what was better - to get out of the situation now, or put up with years of abuse. She also told me that she was praying for Hassan (Rasha's husband) to have bad luck, e.g. a fatal car accident, every morning, and really didn't care if that backfired and "cursed" her. She claims she'S not religious, but her actions belie her words. She knows I've been carrying a switchblade for years (I was raped at 18, and feel no compunctions about defending myself with a deadly weapon), and suggested that I get one for Rascha, and encourage her to kill her husband should he attack her again. Her reasoning is that she would be better off in prison (there's no death penalty here) than being subjected to beatings for years, and subjecting her own kids to the same treatment. That's a bit hard to digest. I'm floundering.
post #40 of 49
Your mother is what we here would call a "Doña Barbara", which would mean litterally "Mrs. Barbarian", but is used to describe a very tough you-don't-wanna-meddle-with woman.

Don't flounder with this, please. We are rooting for ya! I know Rascha will have sucess in this. She is still in the trauma of what just happened. When she has a bit of time to mentally recover a bit, she will be more accessible. But in the meanwhile you need to keep a good eye on her and keep trying.

PS: If you think that wearing a switch blade is strange, I also do so when I go out alone. You think walking alone through Old San Juan in 9 PM is safe for a 15 year old?
post #41 of 49
Thread Starter 
The older she gets, the more radical my mom becomes. Last year she stole a dog that was chained outside in the worst weather and not being fed properly. She's not senile, either. My dad (a Marine in his wild days) used to tell us stories of prostitutes in San Juan concealing razor blades in their mouths and using them on their "johns" (clients), so I've always thought of San Juan as a pretty tough town.
The news here is not good. I saw Rascha yesterday, and her (physical) health has deteriorated. She has a staph infection that is not responding to antibiotics. There is an antibiotic (tetra-something - I didn't write the name down, but it wasn't tetracycline) that is normally used only for infections in cancer or AIDs patients because of the severe side effects (in other words, when it's a life-or-death situation). The drug hasn't been approved for use in Germany, but it has in Belgium, so she is going to be transferred back to the hospital in Brussels that originally treated her on Thursday. Closer to hubby, but she'll be in the ICU, and the hospital is very aware of the situation. She's very scared, which might be a good sign (i.e., she doesn't want to die). I'm very worried, because a friend and former colleague spent the better part of a year in the hospital here due to a staph infection, almost died, and ended up losing his leg.
I feel as if I were in the middle of a soap opera. I'm not an emotional person, but all of a sudden I find myself in a situation where I just don't have the right answers. It's a little bit hard to explain. As a teacher, you have to be "fair", meaning objective. A lot of kids think that teachers prefer students who "lick their boots" and aim for straight A's, but that's not really the case. Often the poorest scholars or most belligerant kids become your "pets" because you form an emotional attachment to them and want to "make things right". I'm not a religious person, but I think the only thing that will help now is that people pray for Rascha. She's a really sweet kid who has done nothing to deserve her current life.
We feminists can bitch all we want to about the "glass ceiling" in the industrialized world, but there are so many females that would find complaints like that utopian.
post #42 of 49
Oh my gosh..... praying she's okay.

At least we got a good sign of she's scared of dying. That means she isn't suicidal. Don't get worried about what happened to your colleague. At her age, she's got a lot more stamina and energy to deal with that much better than a middle aged person, I feel confident that she will deal better with it.

Don't expect to have answers for everything, this is not the kind of situation one can have them and you are not perfect. Just do everything in your power.

San Juan ain't that tought! I once found an old american newspaper article from the 40s talking that same tale. I found it in the General Archives, in the letters of the governor along with a memo talking about how that stuff is false rumours and they even wanted to telegraph the editor of the newspaper. Probably it was some tourist rumor that stuck, for in those days murders were so rare that when one happened they usually caught a lot of media attention. San Juan is dangerous nowadays in the night and alone (kind of like any big city, huh?), but I enjoy walking through it just of how beautiful it is in the night.
post #43 of 49
Thread Starter 
This thread is getting so long - sorry to bother everybody again. There's been a new turn of events. Rascha's mother called me Saturday afternoon - now that was a shock! She wanted to know what I thought about Rascha's finishing the semester (which ends the third week of July). I told her that Rascha didn't have any chance of actually graduating at this point, but if she stayed in Germany and continued to attend school she would get a report card. That would enable her to take an examination given by the Chamber of Commerce; if she repeated her last semester she could take an internal exam, and if she repeated her last two semesters she could take the state exam. Rascha's mother doesn't speak much German, and I speak no Arabic, but she seems to be leaning towards allowing Rascha to stay in Germany until the end of the semester, and, as I understood it, Rascha's father has more or less agreed to that. I don't know whether I should be cautiously optimistic or not, because it seems that her parents promise her things and then renege. However, Rascha's uncle is coming here in June, and perhaps he can do something (his wife is a professor, and his only daughter was allowed to choose her own husband). Rascha's mother is totally dependent on her husband. Right now I'm cooking up a plan where I drop in on her Friday morning, while her husband is at work and the older kids are at school. One of my students, who is female, half Iraqi, half Syrian and fluent in both Arabic and German, has agreed to come and interpret (she'll have to cut school, but the other teachers know how important it is). I discussed the matter with my boss today. She can be utterly impossible, but is very much a feminist, and she thinks that any efforts at this point will be futile, but that the effort has to be made. Rascha knows that her mother called me (I got several text messages from her), so maybe she won't give up on herself. This whole situation is a nightmare. I know that women are in horrible situations in Somalia, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, etc., but this is happening in modern, Western, industrialized Europe.
post #44 of 49
It is certainly no bother for you to keep us up to date with this, and use this as a sounding board or place to vent. I haven't posted much to the thread, but am sure to read it whenever I see there is an update, and Rascha has been in my thoughts.

This sounds like the most optimistic news you've had in quite a while! I hope it works out for Rascha to be able to stay at least through the semester. Any additional time away from that monster she is married to, for you all to try to convince her that she cannot go back to him is nothing short of a blessing.
post #45 of 49
I think I can speak for the rest of the folks here who have been reading and following this issue, we'd really rather you keep updating us on the way things are going. All of us hope that "no news is good news" but we all know that its not always the case! So please don't worry about it, just let us know how things are going, and it'll help get it off your shoulders some too by talking about it.
post #46 of 49
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Heidi! I really needed to hear that there is some hope. This is quite different from taking in a hungry, abandoned animal, because most of the time you don't have to deal with the "family" or any reprisals. At this point I'd just like to wrap Rascha up in a blanket and spirit her away to a safe place, as if she were an abandoned kitten or puppy. That obviously won't work.
post #47 of 49
Please don't stop posting and we won't stop praying for Rascha. This has become a daily stop for me in hopes of good news. If you can talk to her uncle, then maybe he can help get her out of this hell.
post #48 of 49
Hey Jcat, I saw this thread just now despite it having been on for quite a while. Not too sure if it is resolved or not. But anyway I wanted to tell you that I have sent you a personal message on someone to contact regarding situations such as forced marriage. I would prefer not to release that information to the public.
post #49 of 49
Those are the best news since you started this thread! It seems to me that her mother is starting to realize the danger of this.

Keep us posted, Jcat. On the contrary, you bother me when I don't see any updates in a long while as I get worried!
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