Escaping Abuse. This is My Story | Cleveland East Side Moms

Escaping Abuse. This is My Story

Jan 7, 2019 | Meet A Mom, My Story

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Excaping Abuse, a Personal Memoir by Venus Kohler

This is my story, a story I seldom share, seldom for many reasons, one of them being that I was brought up in a culture where divorce is seen as shameful, where abuse is common, a part of daily life, and there was no escape. No escape because there was no 911 to call, no police, or no protection from violence or abuse. No escape because you had to do what was expected by your culture and community. It was difficult to even file a police report for abuse and for me to even talk to my friends about it. I could not even tell my friends until recently that my parents were divorced. Part of growing up in such a culturally rich environment had its pros and cons, I had so much to learn from this rich and exotic culture, which I share with my own children, but at the same time, it was okay to be abused to by the males (who were higher up in the hierarchy) . I left.  I ran for my life, 16 years ago, I got on a plane to the United States, and I never left…

As I sit and write this, I go back to a time where the sound of footsteps in the stairwell brought so much fear into my very being, my heart pounded so hard I could hear it outside. My mom and I quickly cleared away the little bits of paper and remnants of food and cups and tidied up the living room. We made sure it was perfect, as perfect as can be before dad rang the doorbell. We did our best. To this day, I cannot really tell if it was the footsteps or my heart pounding that was louder. Then, the doorbell rang, very nervously; I opened the door and greeted my dad. My mom quickly ran into the kitchen and got him a glass of cold water. I hoped and prayed that he would not get mad or angry or upset or for that matter find out we had company earlier in the day. He hated with a passion, for us to have anyone visit us or have company over. He would beat us to pulp or make us watch him beat up my mother. This did not happen in isolation, all this happened in a city of 15 million people in Mumbai, India. No screaming, or crying or begging for mercy could bring any help even though it was such a large city, what happened at home stayed at home.

 

A different cultural mirror …

I went to a convent school in Mumbai, India, in a community where divorce was unheard of. It was a male dominant society (at least based on my perception) and nothing could change that. I tried very hard at school to do my best, but it was not easy especially on nights where my dad threated to kills us all (my mom, sister, and me) and cut us into “little pieces” so no one would ever find out. I slept with knives under my pillow so he would not find them. I cried in my room, I pretended that everything was okay. It was not. It was hard doing my best, when my dad would beat us up at 5 in the morning over trivial matters because he thought that was the best for us or that is what we deserved. I could not stay out past nine even after I turned 18; I was at his mercy. We were at his mercy for everything that we did, the food we ate, what we watched, or the company that we kept. We were at his mercy. He did not let my mom work because that would make her independent, which would mean we were not at his mercy.

Growing up in India was hard enough, being a girl in India was even harder, but being brought up by an abusive parent was the hardest. We were beaten with clothes hangers, belts, whatever was handy. Eventually, my sister and I finally encouraged my mom to get a divorce before we all were killed. I remember telling my mom that we would figure this out. She left him when I was 16, maybe 17, some of the divorce laws in India changed, and she took advantage of it. I was happy, I could not be happier. However, my sister and I were left were at his mercy. The last time, he strangled me because I was 5 minutes late from choir practice; 5 minutes late because I was at the mercy of public transportation. I was pinned against the wall with my neck in his extremely strong hands. These were the very hands that were meant to love and protect. The hands that were meant for hugs. I was pinned against the wall, to this day I remember every moment. My sister tried to pry him of me and then she ended up biting him. He finally let go. Yes, I was an adult, but I was still at his mercy.

 

How we escaped …

My sister and I ran into the bedroom and locked ourselves in there. We tried to call my grandfather and my uncle (mom’s side), the only people who we could trust, but when we tried there was no sound at the end of the line. My father pulled out every phone cord in the house. We opened the bedroom door in the wee hours of the morning after he had drunk himself to sleep. We went to my grandfather’s house. I am sure that was the last time I saw him. My mom was the first to move to the US.  She volunteered at women’s organization, which brought her to the United States to speak.  A year or so later, she asked me to join her, and my sister came a year after me. When I came here, I came with only with a suitcase containing clothing. I left behind memories, photos, and my childhood. Yet, I was still at his mercy.

This is just a glimpse into the life I had in India. Just a moment, just an idea of what it was growing up and living with a father who was abusive. For a long time this was our normal.  For almost 20 years, we lead this life. If it were not for my faith in God, hope in Him and trust that He would see us through, I wouldn’t be sitting here sharing my story with you. I still live in the fear. I still wake up at night scared that he is around, somewhere close, ready to bring us harm. I still shake and my heart still pounds every time I hear voices being raised. Yet, in spite of this, I know that I am strong, I have faith in a God that can move mountains. I deal with it. Every. Single. Day. I deal with it when my 9 year old asks me about my dad. I deal with when I get an email saying, “I found you.” I deal with it. I have forgiven him, yet I cannot forget. I am who I am today because of what I have been through. I wish it were different, but then I would not be who I am. I am grateful for my past, as scary as it was.  I know my story can change your life.

 

My life today …

The nightmares… they still exist. The fear…still exists. I know that my faith in God and my every pray does not go unanswered, I know this because God’s mercies are new every morning. I know this because today I am a wife, a mother of 3 wonderful children. I know this because I go to a job that I thoroughly enjoy where I teach children. I can teach them to be stronger, to be resilient, and to have hopes and dreams.  I can teach them to overcome fears because of how strong they are.

This is my Story, by Venus Kohler

16 years later, I live on the outskirts of Cleveland, raising a family, teaching, and running my own baking business, the moonlighting baker. I could have wallowed in my misery; I could have felt sorry for myself. I DID. However, I also DID have faith in God and in my darkest hours, He was there. I am a daughter, sister, wife, mother, and an immigrant but I am not at his mercy any more only because of God’s mercies.

 

More about the author ….

Venus Kohler

Venus Kohler

The Moonlighting Baker

I am a teacher by day and baker by night, hence Moonlighting Baker! I have always enjoyed baking and experimenting with flavors and after a colleague asked me to bake birthday cakes for staff with her, I realized that I really had a lot of fun creating and decorating cakes! This was just the beginning of my journey.  I created Cakes, Inc. by Venus, which focuses on baking cakes from scratch, without the use of artificial and synthetic colors and preservatives, using natural, vegetable-based food color and incorporating ingredients that are free from gmos.

Follow Cakes, Inc by Venus on Instagram!

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