The great escape

Her in-laws may have stolen her passport, but this woman escaped her abusive marriage anyway

Haritha Khandabattu (Humans of Amsterdam/Facebook)

The incredible story of one woman’s escape from a marriage arranged by her parents, as shared through Facebook group Humans of Amsterdam, has internet users from across the globe clamoring to offer her their support and to thank her for inspiring them to take action to improve their own lives.

In the post, Haritha Khandabattu explained how her plans for a career as an engineer were sidetracked by her parents insistence that she get married. “My father barely spoke to me anymore. The tension became unbearable and at some point I couldn’t take it anymore so I gave in,” Khandabattu recalled. “I ended up marrying a man that I barely knew and didn’t love. Honestly I can’t remember my wedding day.”

The worst, however, was still to come. After Khandabattu moved with her husband and his family “on the other side of India,” she said that her in-laws became “controlling” and even forced her “to give [her] salary to them.” Her husband, meanwhile, began snooping in her phone and accusing her of cheating every time her work as a software engineer for Nike required her to stay late at the office.

Despite these humiliations, Khandabattu said she tried for a year and a half to improve their marriage. After these efforts failed, she made a change for herself and applied for a work transfer to Amsterdam. In Amsterdam, she said, she soon felt at home and “made a lot of friends.” After visiting “a storytelling event with women from all over the world who talked about their experiences with physical and emotional abuse,” Khandabattu realized it was time for another change. Once she got home, she called her husband to tell him that she wanted a divorce.

When she traveled back to her husband’s house to discuss the divorce with her own family and her husband’s family, they attacked her verbally and insisted that she not go through with it. The next day, Khandabattu discovered that her “passport, phone, and credit cards [were] missing.” When she confronted her in-laws, they told her “someone must have broken in and stole it.”

It normally takes at least three months to get a new passport in India, Khandabattu said, and she had only taken two weeks off from her job in Amsterdam. The way Khandabattu eventually made her escape was, to say the least, a testament to her determination and ingenuity.

Read the full story at Cosmopolitan.

Related:

Exposé pulls back the curtain on problem of forced child marriage in the U.S.

Bollywood stuntwoman’s greatest feat was escaping an abusive marriage

Teen burned to death in Pakistan for declining marriage proposal

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article is independent of and separate from any views of The New York Times.