You never think it will happen to you.

That’s the thing about domestic abuse. It’s the thing that happens to other people, but never to you.

My abuse started when I was very young at 5 years old.

Born into a Sikh family, I was the daughter my family wished they’d never had.

I was ugly. I was a disgrace. I was worthless.

For over a decade I endured physical, sexual, financial, physological abuse that, eventually, indoctrinated me into believing it was normal.

By the time my eighteenth birthday came, they wanted to marry me off.

So, they decided to marry me off to an Indian man I’d never met.

The very thought of it now still sends shivers down my spine; I didn’t want to move to India – I didn’t want to marry a stranger – I didn’t want my freedom ripped  from me.

I protested and made myself as ineligible as I could, refusing my ‘place’ as a domestic slave, thus bringing more dishonour to a family who believed the only way to solve this was to eliminate me.

And that’s when things took an even more evil turn.

The emotional abuse quickly turned into physical abuse from my father, which then escalated to sexual abuse from various members of my family.

I was trapped, cocooned in a prison of repulsive hatred and violent attacks.

I tried to escape, but they wouldn’t let me.

It was at that moment my own father tried to take my life.

“I’ll kill you” he yelled. “I’m going to kill you”.

He grabbed me by my hair and beat me black and blue, putting his hands on my throat and telling me I wasn’t worth the carpet he beat me on.

I left my family home in an ambulance that night.

I returned beaten, broken and bereft of hope.

The abuse continued, along with another forced marriage attempt.

I found myself in and out of women’s refuges, scared for my life that my family would find me and finish their mission to end me for good.

My perpetual unhappiness forced me into the arms of a man, who, having just escaped one prison, was about to force me into another…

The abuse started quickly.

Controlling, manipulative behaviour soon escalated into the deep thud of a fist to my face, and multiple sordid affairs.

But he apologised, said it would never happen again. He’d ‘change’.

But it did happen again. Over and over again.

He told me I wasn’t good enough for anyone else, that I was lucky to be with him.

And then the moment that was to change my life happened…

He kicked me. Punched me. Strangled me.

His hands gripped round my throat; I felt the life leak out of me.

In that very moment, what I can only imagine was inches away from my death, I did something that terminated my association with my heritage for good.

I prayed to Jesus.

His grip loosened, as if a force was pulling his fingers back   to base.

I got up and ran.

He didn’t follow.

And so it was, I found my new faith; a faith that eventually lead me to realise my place in this world.

My place always was and always will be to fight for the victims of domestic abuse – to help end their suffering by inspiring them to break their silence.