"My husband Jean and I were married for many years, had two beautiful daughters, and were very happy together. Many years into our marriage, I became a member of the True Church of God of Cameroon, a Pentecostal church, and was devastated with his reaction.
Jean, like most Cameroonians, is a Catholic, and views Pentecostalism as an illegitimate, sacrilegious sect. He accused me of saying prayers to harm his business and told me that my religion disturbed every part of his life. Whenever I returned home from church service, Jean was waiting for me. He whipped me with a belt many times and once, he even threatened me with a hammer. He told me he would kill me.
In my religion, we wake up every night at midnight to pray. My husband would lie awake until midnight, and when I would start to get up he would pull me down by my clothing and force oral and anal sex on me. If I tried to refuse, he beat me and threatened me. Even though he would usually assault me in our bedroom, the children could hear me crying and could hear him yelling at me. Horrified and confused by the sounds they heard, they came to the door to see what was happening. My heart broke that they witnessed their father’s extreme abuse.
After my conversion of faith, I was abandoned by many friends, family members, and colleagues. However, I was able to transfer my job to a town three hours away by bus, to get away from Jean’s abuse.
But Jean stalked me...."
Click here to continue reading Mariam's story on Tahirih's website.
*Names have been changed to protect privacy. The photograph included here is not of Mariam. Photo by Sergio Pessolano.