Stop This Mental Abuse

Laiba Zainab
Posted December 5, 2020 from Pakistan

Sometimes I feel like writing an open letter to all the people who have destroyed my mental health but I never do that because it won't make a difference at all. I am not sure about other countries but in Pakistan, abuse is only recognized if it is physical, mental abuse is never considered important enough to be discussed.

Since my childhood I've been hearing that I am not beautiful because my skin color is not white or fair. This always came with tips or "totkas" to be followed so that I won't be "dark" anymore. I remember in grade 10th one of my partner told me that his friends think I should be used like a tissue paper and thrown away because "ye to kali c hai", she is a dark complexioned girl. Even almost 10 years after I heard this sentence, I still remember it along with what I felt after hearing it. I still sometimes think that I am not beautiful and his is all because of the society I live in which has some messed up beauty standards.

It is a normal thing here that people joke about "second marriage" or having "multiple partners" when it comes to men. Even women joke about it in front of other women. What they don't consider is that how painful and traumatic it can be for someone who doesn't endorse this idea. I believe that if a relationship is not working and becomes toxic, it must end before one of the partners or both are completely destroyed. But joking about it, specially when things are fine, can have a severe impact on mental health and can for sure induce anxiety or stress. It may also lead to trigger insecurities as well.

I feel like in our part of the world it is easier to suppress women. In a romantic relationship I always feel that in one way or the other, my partner has manipulated my feelings at some point. And that is one of the reasons why I don't want to get married anymore. The other day I was telling my mom that my only demand is that the man should not be conservative in his thoughts, I don't want anything else, To which she replied that every man is conservative and in the end women have to compromise. I don't buy this anymore. Why is this always expected from women to compromise? Why they have to suffer in silence? Why they are told that the ultimate goal of their lives is marriage and kids? I am in my 20s and every Tom Dick and Harry keeps telling me that I should get married. What I would never understand is why? I can earn for myself, I can drive around, I have family and friends, I don't want someone in my life who expects slavery and can't even give me an orgasm.

It is high time that we teach women that they are not made to compromise forever. They should not abide by the beauty standards of this society and they can be whatever they want. For me the best part in this journey has been support by fellow women who thought along the same lines. I believe that sisterhood is the key to end this mental abuse cycle and for that I am always ready.

This story was submitted in response to Sharing Solutions: Ending GBV.

Comments 17

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Jill Langhus
Dec 05, 2020
Dec 05, 2020

Hi Laiba,

Welcome back, dear! I hear you about society's harmful beauty standards. I could tell you that you're beautiful, and believe me I think that you are, but you know as well as I do, that what's important, and the only opinion that matters is your own. That's why these norms, trends and beliefs are so harmful because we hear them once, or perhaps several times, and then they can become a belief, and quite often self limiting beliefs are super hard to dismantle and heal from. Having said that, it's not impossible, as I'm sure you're also aware of.

Oh, that's depressing, if it were true, that all men are conservative, or have only harmful beliefs, and norms that they follow. That's also sad that everyone is telling you to get married, too, if that's not what you want. Peer pressure is real.

I agree. I think that's a global challenge for girls and women about the expectation to always be nice, apologetic, and perpetually compromising. At least from what I've seen in my life. I agree on sisterhood, too.

Hang in there. Stay strong, and continue to reach out to us for support, if you need it! We hear you!

Laiba Zainab
Dec 07, 2020
Dec 07, 2020

Hi Jill, Hope you are doing great and staying safe. Thank you so much for your kind words. Much love from my side <3

Jill Langhus
Dec 07, 2020
Dec 07, 2020

Hello Dear,

Yes, thank you! How are you doing?

You're very welcome. Hang in there, and keep reaching out. XX

Laiba Zainab
Dec 12, 2020
Dec 12, 2020

I am doing good Jill. Always a pleasure to see your comment

Jill Langhus
Dec 12, 2020
Dec 12, 2020

Great to hear:-) Have a good one!

XX

jomarieb.earth
Dec 05, 2020
Dec 05, 2020

Dear Laiba,
First of all, you are gorgeous, fabulous and I think everyone who offends you is just simply jealous. There are so many stigmas that we as women have to wrestle with from sun-up to sundown, and in our sleep. It's just doesn't end. But...you have to have a concrete constitution according to yourself. You may have to go against the grain of the norms and expectations of society. But, your joy is your fortress. Be strong, believe in what is right for you and only you. Self-ish is not a bad word. Who will forge your path and pave your way for you? You have to be your champion at creating your happiness whatever form it takes. It is far more fun and interesting to be the exception instead of the rule. Be brave and be joyful in your quest for yourself. And just know my dear that you are fierce!
Hugs sister...JoMarie

Laiba Zainab
Dec 07, 2020
Dec 07, 2020

Hey Sis JoMarie. I do believe that going against the tide is tough but I know we all will make it to the end one day and be happy about it. Much Love <3

OGA PRECIOUS
Dec 07, 2020
Dec 07, 2020

You know what? You are such a damsel and I believe you know that. Whatever people have fabricated is their own assumptions. What matters is for you to believe in yourself just as you've already done, go for what you want and for what makes you happy. No matter your race, sex, complexion, height or whatever, we can all achieve whatever we want, despite all these things I have mentioned. The question is how much do you trust yourself? There is power in self-will pretty. Don't let anyone pull you down. You believe in yourself and I believe in you too.

Laiba Zainab
Dec 12, 2020
Dec 12, 2020

Hello. This means a lot that you trust in me and it gives me more energy to trust in myslef. Sisterhood rocks <3

Nini Mappo
Dec 08, 2020
Dec 08, 2020

Hello Laiba,
Yours is an important story because the question of color in your part of the world is often ignored, as 'race' may not be as distinct, and the world is schooled to think of race and color together. Being dark skinned in a world where fairness is glorified is either abused or exotified, both which are forms of stigma on different spectrums in my opinion. It's up to us to step out of that narrow mindedness and carve our own path on beauty, value, worth...on and beneath the surface. Once we do that any slights are simply opinions too low to be hosted in our precious, beautiful minds. We can't 'carpet the world' per se, but we can wear shoes and protect our feet! And that works. Carpeting the world is too costly, mentally, emotionally, and hence the mental health suffers if we lack enough 'capital' for this carpet.. Which we always do, because it's impossible to attain.

As for the pressure to marry, and the conservative men for whom women must conform, I was that 21 year-old, and decided I'd never marry ever. (And felt so free about it haha). I absolutely hear you. And it is a shame, a disappointment, a letdown, an injustice that society is so.
However, that was fear, anger, hurt, and helplessness talking, though I didn't know it then. It was going to be a good solution, but it would tie me to my hurt and bitterness towards men and patriarchy for life, so really a burdensome solution if I was being truthful. I realized this at 23, and decided to be open to marriage, but it had to be a partnership, not a cultural bondage. My uni girls told me to get a boyfriend to secure a possible partner before graduating, and I told them that in the whole campus of 30K+ students, no man was mature enough or self and other aware enough to be remotely suited for a future husband.... if he existed, he was somewhere else, and I wasn't gonna hurry him. They thought I was crazy, and maybe I was. Long story short, at 21, I vowed to never marry, married at 25, and my mother officially believes I'm a 'bad wife' because I spilled out of our cultural mold and doesn't understand why my husband doesn't complain.
At the end of the day, we need, and try to marry where our hearts are at home, where respect is reciprocal, and where we are freed from cultural pretenses. I hope that you feel that free...the free from cultural pretenses, and the need to always explain yourself, whether married or single.
Thank you for sharing your story. I am sure that it expresses many frustrations of young women at the relational threshold.
Stay sparkly, sis, even when others cannot see the sparkles....it's their vision, not you!
Sending early Christmas cheers your way :-)

Laiba Zainab
Dec 12, 2020
Dec 12, 2020

Merry Christmas in advance and thank you for giving me home. Much love from my side

SADRAG
Dec 09, 2020
Dec 09, 2020

Dear zainab,

Decision-making for self needs to be in one's own hands. She may have to fight, assert and put her foot down to think of her first. She is important so this fight is justified.
Dont give up that easily. Dont let others win. Dont let others control you
By you , I mean the younger lot. they must learn from us and move on to the path of success.
love yourself
mala

Laiba Zainab
Dec 12, 2020
Dec 12, 2020

Much love from my side Mala <3

Caroline Bokwe
Dec 09, 2020
Dec 09, 2020

My dear Laiba, you are beautiful just the way you are. I like how the the negativity and stigma of the past has not derailed you from the wonderful life ahead of you. I must say that it is very easy for some people to laugh over matters that do not directly impact them, thereby ignoring the fact that it could be another person's mightmare, which eventually leads to serious mental health issues as you have mentioned. I am glad that you are finding your voice sister, I implore you to remain steadfast and continue in your amazing work of supporting the women in your community.

Laiba Zainab
Dec 12, 2020
Dec 12, 2020

Thank you sis. This coming from you means a lot <3

MSaw
Dec 14, 2020
Dec 14, 2020

Hi Laiba,

Stay strong and just ignore whatever people comment !!
we cannot control people's mouth !
live happy.

cheers

Rose Marie Johnson
Dec 14, 2020
Dec 14, 2020

Laiba, it has been a struggle for women everywhere only in developing countries it is publicly displayed. Even here in Canada it happens only it is hidden, and difficult to prove for defending ones self. It is true in your culture women and girls are the foundation of community and men fear we will leave them and the have yet to evolve into independent men. Women rebuild communities and I know you will do great things, because you are already making a difference in the world. I pray that you meet people who are interdependent like minded uplifting and inspire each other to focus on your highest potential your purpose in your life. You are young though you may be wise beyond your years, each day is new and do not let those who can not rise hold you back. There is a open path before you walk with awareness. Stay beautiful stay well.
Rose