Elham from New York speaks out:
A SELF PETITION, HUM!
After some three and half years of pain, suffering and apprehension, I finally found a breakthrough that rescued me from my misery. It was just about five years ago when Houshang had come to seek my parents’ blessing to marry me. He claimed that he was an American citizen with a respectable job with a decent income and was well known among the Iranian community in New York. Moreover, he insisted that he was desperately looking for a harmonious and traditional Iranian family. He had a real presence about him, nothing you could put your finger on, it was a feeling of trust. He tried to flatter and compliment my mother to get her consent for our marriage. My mother was really affected by him and referred to him as the best husband for me. We said our vows in a big ceremony on a beach by the Caspian Sea. We were showered with huge amounts of money by friends and families, which enabled us to purchase a condominium in New York.
Soon after our marriage, we both headed to Dubai, where I was supposed to get my visa. Regretfully my visa petition was denied. Learning that I had to return to Iran made me feel so frustrated. My parents consoled me to get me out of my disappointment. I had been so optimistic, as some of my friends had already gotten their visas for America for the same purpose as mine. After some six months separation from my husband, he asked me to join him in Dubai to apply for my visa again. Happily everything went smoothly this time and I was granted an American visa.
Being in New York was really a big dream for me. My husband’s calm demeanor was irresistible, just being around him relaxed me. It was such a trusting feeling. Just after about six months into our relationship, my husband invited his family to move in with us for awhile, without even asking me. It was too much. From the very first days of their arrival, there were warning signs I should have paid attention to. They would tell me what I could or could not do. They would yell because they did not like the way I was cooking. At first I thought they were kidding. Then I realized they wanted to control everything I did. Once they were faced with my outrageous reaction, Houshang’s mother threatened me, saying that my husband would have me deported because of my illegal status. Soon after that, the abuse started by my husband, when I showed my objection about his carefree life cousins who had come to our house. Sometimes his abusive behavior was verbal. He would tell me, “You are so pushy and overbearing,” trying to beat down my self-Esteem. Despite all this I tried to somehow get along with them. But the more I showed flexibility, the more they tried to be controlling. Luckily, after about three months, they all headed to London to visit Houshang’s brother. But Hushang’s brother’s English wife could not tolerate them and kicked them out of their home. From there, they returned to Iran.
It did not make me happy and I tried to maintain my relationship with them. I even called Iran and cordially asked them back for a visit. During this time, I was called by the immigration department about my green card processing. After having two interviews I still had not received my green card yet.
Now, my husband began dating a Vietnamese girl and even sheltered her in our house. Once faced with my overreaction, he swore that he would have me deported for my illegal status if I voiced any objection about his young gorgeous Vietnamese girl. So now I had to take care of both them, cooking, cleaning and doing laundry. I had to see them hand in hand laughing while leaving home every morning. I had become their domestic and had no right to do anything with my so called my husband.
With my broken English language, that I had learned from television I tried to contact the immigration department. When my husband found out, he forbade me use the phone. His behavior robbed me of feeling that I was safe and sheltered. It made me feel resentful towards him. I knew from little signs that his affair with the Vietnamese girl was ongoing. Quietly, I started asking people I knew, if there was a way to get divorced without getting deported. Eventually I found an organization that helps undocumented women like myself. They told me about a law that would let me divorce my abuser and yet be able to ‘Self petition’ to stay in the United States. My petition was approved while during the process, I found out that my green card had already been issued two years previous. My husband had not let me know because he wanted to use me as his slave. With this harsh evidence and witnesses, I was able to get restraining order against him while he was in jail.
I am now living in his home that legally had been transferred to me. I am not going to take revenge on him, I just want to leave him peacefully. I am now living happily and according to the court, he owes me a considerable amount for alimony. But thanks to God, I am free from my abuser and I am free to live in the United States.