It's My Turn - Editorial Piece
In March of 2014, I ended a two-decade-long manhunt by turning myself in, to the authorities at the Phoenix International Airport. They had been looking for me, Marsha Marie. Who would have thought that this once class clown would have her whole life turned upside down by keeping her silence?
I was being sought for two counts of custodial interference involving my own two small children. I left the county in 1991 to escape the control of an abusive ex-husband. But now I’m back and spreading the message to the world of what I feel was my number one mistake—keeping his secret. I was married for five years and suffered bruising and suffocating control, but, I kept his dirty secret from the world. I should have shouted from the rooftops of his abuse; but I chose to stay quiet, causing severe depression and almost suicide.
I ultimately accepted an invitation that would change my life—leave the States and move to a small farming village in rural Pakistan. I moved to small village, and boy, was my life changed. I lived in Asia for 17 years. During that time, I was charged in Arizona with custodial interference and threats of additional kidnapping charges. There were repeated attempts by authorities to convince me to return the children to their father, but I refused; the kids and I were happy in our new life away from him. I lived there for 17 years, until I yearned for a change.
Knowing that I couldn’t freely return to America, I moved to splendor of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. I worked and survived as an English teacher, until--long story short--it became necessary for me to return to the States for the sake of my then grown-daughter’s health. I knew that the time had come where I would have to face my deepest fears—return home and face my abuser and the criminal charges that were brought against me. I was paralyzed with fear. What will happen if I go to prison? How can I prove in court what happened to me? How will they believe me now after all of these years?
Well, three years later, I stand here with all of the court dates complete. I was able to show the court my side of the story; but let me say this, it was not easy to stand in court and be called a liar and a manipulator. The prosecutors claimed that I just pulled years of abuse out of thin air, and that I was just trying to save myself. But during the hearings I kept the faith, knowing all along that I was telling the truth; I know what I survived.
In order to preserve the truth of my story, I have written a memoir, and have volunteered as a public speaker for both, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the Arizona Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence. I cannot change my past, or the mistakes that were made; but I can stand up now with confidence and scream out to all that will hear me—if you are in an abusive relationship, tell somebody—anybody. You can find help and a new life. Don’t make the mistakes that I did and suffer in a silent Hell.
Furthermore, my hope today is that others will hear my story and consider what they would have done had they been in my shoes; and most importantly, to encourage everyone to learn the signs of domestic abuse and be receptive to those who may be suffering and reaching out for help. Let’s create a society that encourages those who are in the torment of domestic terrorism to break the silence. Domestic violence affects us all.
Thank you for listening,