So this may get long, sorry. I'm a 28 year old Pakistani Muslim woman, the eldest of my siblings. I am living at home with my dad, stepmum and three brothers who are all under 18. My mum passed away when I was 15 and since then my stepmum has lived with us. She has not been the kindest of people, has been manipulative, told many many lies over the years and made up stories about me and my sisters. Both my sisters are now married and living away from home.
My dad has been easily shaped by my stepmums ways, though he himself is also incredibly traditional and old-thinking. He cares very much about his pride and how others will see our family. Over the years they have been very verbally and emotionally abusive, calling me names, demeaning me, making me think i'm a bad person, and so much more. I've had a very sheltered upbringing, even in adulthood, I'm not allowed out much or late, I am not allowed to choose what to eat or cook, I'm just overall very secluded and constantly fearful I will have insults thrown at me if I do or say the smallest of things. Even yesterday I went out to the shop by walk and was told off for not taking the car. There is almost something every day.
A few months ago, I refused to marry a cousin who they had chosen, to which they responded with anger, saying that they wanted to poison me because I'm a 'burden' on them. Since then i have developed bad chest pains which won't go away as they are there due to anxiety and fear. I am also very paranoid of everything they gave me to eat.
Two weeks ago, I started a conversation with them. I explained that I'm unhappy at home and i don't see things changing over the next few years, so I would think it best for my health and mental wellbeing to move away and live with other muslim women. This is truly my intention. However again, the response to that was extremely negative, they think I am running away with a man, they again called me many names and blamed me for the way I feel. My dad's reasoning was "what will I tell people if you go". He said if I go he will cut me off from the family. He believes he has done everything for me because he has fed me and given me a home for 28 years.
After this conversation in which nothing was resolved even though I talked calmly and tried to make my needs clear, I told a friend what had happened (as you do). She got worried for me and called the police without telling me, which I don't blame her for at all.
I spoke to the police over the phone when they called because I did not want them coming to our house and risk my parents wrath. They saw no major issues and it was left on a good note. I was reassured nothing would come from this as they had confirmed I was safe.
Since then, both my parents and me have made more effort with each other and things started to slowly improve. However, last night i got a call from social services saying that she will call my parents because she needs to check the children in the home are safe. I told her there's no need and all is fine, they are boys and well loved and cared for. They have no part in any of this. However I understand once the referral is made they have to call anyway.
So I had to tell my parents. Otherwise the call would have been a shock to them and could have been bad for me.
I told them. I told them it was nothing to worry about, it's just procedure, they're just going to ask questions then close the case etc. However my dad reacted with fury. He thinks I did this purposely to threaten him, he thinks I am working against the family. He can't believe that someone else could call the police on someone's behalf so is convinced I did it all myself. He thinks I have a boyfriend (which I have never had), who is controlling me.
He has given me an ultimatum. Either I call SS and tell them not to contact my parents and that I made a mistake. I also have to apologise to him for 'calling them' in the first place (which I didn't do), then I have to act like a better daughter and carry on living with them. Alternatively, I have to leave home and he will cut me off from the family for life. He also brought my brothers down to tell them everything, told them I 'm a bad person who wants to ruin their lives and If i leave they have to pretend I never existed.
Last night he locked all the doors, and took all my house and car keys. He said I can have them back in a few months or years when I 'earn it'.
If I leave i'm fine financially and have a friend to stay with for the short term so that isn't a concern.
I have so much love for my parents despite everything, I really don't want to hurt my dad in any way. I'm also so attached to my siblings them not being able to contact me crushes me and is the reason I have not left home before. If I stay though, I will never be rid of the pains and all the manipulation that goes on, things won't change as they haven't over the past 10 years. It's such a difficult decision and not at all how I wanted life to happen. This whole thing against muslim women moving away from home is so ridiculous, I had intended it to be a peaceful move where we stay in touch. But my parents only see it as a betrayal and are convinced I want to go and live a 'western' life.
Basically, I want to know if anyone has been through anything similar and if they have had ties broken by their parents how you are coping with it as a single muslim woman? Also if anyone has any opinions on this I would be grateful. I've already spoken to helplines and my counsellor, just need to hear about others who go through these things as I find there isn't much online and most women tend to leave home due to a man (which is fine too, it's just the content of most of these stories).
Thank you xx